The most effective strategy for diminishing chronic stress is balance. Being able to stay centered, relaxed and present is the optimal state of balance for both mind and body. You need to train your brain to stay there.
Meditation has been proven to go head-to-head with medication when it comes to it’s effectiveness in treating anxiety and depression. And one of the major benefits of meditation is that it has NO side-effects (other than increased well-being).
Now, ditching your medication for meditation is probably not a good idea and most definitely NOT what I’m suggesting. The point I’m trying to make is that incorporating meditation into your daily routine will have lots of benefits.
With this in mind, I checked out 2 of the most popular Meditation Websites/Apps.
Headspace – (free, monthly subscription optional) I recently downloaded this ingenious App after coming across it while perusing the App Store as I waiting for a doctor’s appointment.
I was hooked as soon as I completed the first 10 minute guided meditation. I felt more relaxed than I’ve been in weeks and the voice (Andy Puddicombe) made me want to melt into my seat.
The App encourages you to complete 10 minutes of meditation each day (preferably at the same time each day so as to develop it as a habit). And each meditation is done in sequence, you cannot jump forward to the next session without completing the one before it.
Calm – (free, monthly subscription optional) This App allows you pair your meditation with nature sounds, music or animated backgrounds. So if you’re a visual person who wants to watch a rolling ocean while listening to a guided mediation, then this App can certainly accommodate.
There are 3 main buttons:
Breathe – a breathe bubble pops up and prompts you to inhale, hold and then release your breathe.
Sleep Story – this feature is meant to be used at night right before bed. It’s a means of transitioning from a busy day into a sleep state via a relaxing, slow story.
Meditate – here you can choose from a few meditation programs. Most programs are locked to paid subscriptions.
The woman’s voice is slightly more cheery than I’m used to but not so much so that it is annoying. Overall, I enjoyed this App more than I thought I would.
What you need to meditate (optional)
The beauty of meditation is that you can do it pretty much anywhere without any special tools. That being said, adding a few things to the experience doesn’t hurt. I like to create an ambiance when I meditate as it helps me easily transition into a state of calm.
Benefits of meditation!!
- Meditation boosts neurotransmitters, namely serotonin and norepinephrine, which are normally quite low in people who suffer from depression and anxiety.
- Meditation helps you focus on the present. It’s been said that people who focus too much on the past tend to get depressed and those who focus too much on the future tend to experience anxiety, so staying in the present moment helps discourage and eliminate those feelings.
- Meditation strengthens the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is weakened in depressed individuals leading to memory loss and disorientation.
- Meditation stimulates alpha and theta brain waves which improve depression.
- Meditation improves concentration and thinking.
- Meditation improves quality of sleep.