Stress is the body’s response to any change that requires adjustment or response. Stress can be physical, mental, and emotional. Certain amounts of stress can be positive however stress becomes negative when the person faces continuous challenges without rest. Without rest, stress related tension starts to build and manifest as a negative force. Negative stress reactions can include headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, problems sleeping, or certain diseases. When the body is stressed muscles tense up as a way to guard the body against injury. Long term chronic stress keeps the muscles taut which can cause all sorts of issues including migraine headaches and musculoskeletal disorders.

Endocrine

When the body is stressed, the hypothalamus signals the autonomic nervous system and the pituitary gland and the process is started to produce epinephrine and cortisol, sometimes called the “stress hormones.”

Adrenal Glands

Adrenal glands produce cortisol which is supposed to gradually drop as the day goes on. However chronic stress leads to adrenal glands overproducing cortisol which later on leads to adrenal fatigue.

Liver

Cortisol and epinephrine are released due to stress which causes the liver to produce more glucose. If your body doesn’t use all the glucose then that extra blood sugar can mean diabetes for some people.

Gastrointestinal

Stress effects what nutrients your body absorbs and it can also effect how fast your food moves through your body. You may have diarrhea or constipation.

Nervous System

Chronic Stress can reslut in a long term drain on the body. The nervous system will continue to trigger ongoing physical reactions which causes wear and tear on the body.

Why Meditate?

It is extremely important that we give our bodies the rest it deserves. Practicing mindfulness meditation is a great way to let your body relax. Studies have shown that over an eight-week course of mindfulness meditation the brain’s “fight or flight” center, called the amygdala, appears to shrink. This area of the brain is involved in the initiation of the body’s response to stress. The idea is to alter the connectivity between two brain regions which normally communicate with each other. The experience is still happening but meditation allows your body to refrain from engaging in the thought processes that make it painful.

Now you might be asking yourself how you can acheive a state of Zen or become an expert meditator. The good news is it’s very easy to get started. I always enjoy meditation in the morning when I first wake up or in the evening when I get home to help me unwind from my busy day.

Beginners meditation

  • Find a quiet room free of distractions where you can sit for at least five to ten minutes
  • Sit in traditional cross legged pose with back straight to keep from becoming sluggish or sleepy
  • Close your eyes and direct your attention to your breathing
  • Keep focusing on the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils
  • It may seem as though your mind becomes busier the harder
  • you try to meditate; in reality your body us becoming more aware of how busy the mind actually is. Don’t let this discourage you. Keep breathing.
  • Once your mind has settled, continue your breathing until you feel a sense of happiness and contentment. Smile and hold your hands together at your heart center.
  • You can meditate for as long as you feel is necessary however a good five to ten minutes has proven to be beneficial in lowering stress

Learning how to practice Ujjayi breathing, also translated as “victorious breath”, is a breathing technique practiced by Taoist and yogi’s that increases oxygenation and builds internal body heat. All of which help the body to relax while meditating.

Ujjayi breathing is a wonderful technique to add to your daily mindful meditation. Here is a video to help you start.