Meditation has been an age old practice that was mainly used in the mystical or sacred. Nowadays, many people who practice meditation do so because of the benefits of meditation for stress relief. Apart from making you unhealthy, stress can rob you of peak performance in everything you do. You may find yourself getting unusually anxious, tense and worried. When these emotions continue for a long time, you can run into health risks like high blood pressure, insomnia, ulcers, heart diseases, depression and other chronic diseases.
Treating these conditions through conventional medicine not only can cause side effects from drugs but may also be too expensive. This is why many people have started embracing self-directed methods of managing stress like meditation. Meditation is free to do, it does not have side effects and it is very effective. As you read on, you will discover the health benefits to stress management and how the meditation technique of progressive muscle relaxation can help to reduce stress. This will make you appreciate the value of meditation on stress even more.
Are There Health Benefits to Stress Management?
Studies and peoples experiences have shown that there are many health benefits that the many different types of meditation have on stress management. One of the benefits is that meditation helps to slow the rate at which the heart works. This slow rate increases blood circulation in your system. With increased blood circulation there is more oxygen taken to all the cells of your body. When your cells take in more oxygen, lactic acid production (which causes you to lose energy and feel fatigued) is reduced. This helps your muscles to feel relaxed and you suddenly experience increased energy.
Another way meditation helps you in managing stress is in the reduction of activity in the nervous system. The part of the nervous system and the brain that is responsible for calming you automatically becomes active and works on your body to help you regain your balance. This is just one of many ways that meditation helps in managing stress. One other way that meditation helps is when you use the relaxation technique called progressive muscle relaxation.
What is Progressive Muscle Relaxation?
Progressive muscle relaxation is also known as guided body scan. It is a stress management technique that is focused on tensing and releasing tensions in 16 different muscle groups of the body. The idea behind progressive muscle relaxation is simply that of isolating one muscle group at a time, then intentionally creating muscle tension for that muscle group for 8-10 seconds and then allowing the muscles to totally relax so as to release the tensions. By doing this, the tensions you created will allow the muscle group to feel more relaxed than it was before the tension was created.
When you continually repeat the process, your body will quickly learn to recognize and differentiate the associated feelings between a tensed muscle and a completely relaxed muscle. The body will use this knowledge to induce physical muscular relaxation when it first becomes aware of the signs of tension that accompanies anxiety. When your body physically relaxes this way, your thoughts will also be more readily focused and able to remain calm. The muscle groups where progressive muscle relaxation occurs are located at the toes, knees, entire right leg, entire left leg, right hand, right forearm and hand, entire right arm, left hand, left forearm and hand, entire left arm, abdomen, chest, neck and shoulders and face. As an example, this is how you tense and relax your hand muscle; clench your fists tightly for 8-10 seconds and relax it. Next, extend your fingers fully to create tension and relax it too. You will repeat this same process for all the muscle groups in the body. As a general rule the best way to get the full benefits of progressive muscle relaxation is to
1.) Practice this technique in a quiet room where you can be free from interruptions.
2.) Sit on a comfortable chair, couch, recliner or lie on a bed.
3.) Allocate 10-15 minutes every day for this technique.
4.) Be aware of the sensations you experience while tensing and relaxing the various muscle groups in your body.
Once you recognize the different muscle groups and know how to tense and relax them you will enjoy deep relaxation and reduce stress in no time.
Meditation has a lot to do with relieving stress and the proof is in the health benefits you will enjoy while doing so. You have also seen that progressive muscle relaxation is one of the fastest ways to reduce stress. You can now use this information to easily reduce stress in your daily life.