Stay away from the stress and embrace the benefits of meditation.
Time and time again we’ve heard that our lives are getting busier and it is increasingly difficult to find the time to relax. And no matter how often we hear it, you can’t brush away it’s truth. In between work schedules, family and social responsibilities, and the minefield of social media throwing notifications at us left, right and centre, it is unsurprising more of us are becoming increasingly stressed, anxious and unhappy.
One proven method to decrease stress is through meditation, which is increasingly being used as an effective tool to provide perspective and calmness in our lives.
What Meditation Tackles
When we become anxious, stressed or depressed, it is often due to outside pressures. Meditation can offset conditions like anxiety, ADHD and even depression. In Australia, it is estimated that over forty-five per cent of all people will suffer a mental condition in their lifetime, and that number is expected to increase. These conditions know no age boundaries, meaning meditation can be used effectively for both young and old.
Anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental conditions, affecting over two million Australians every year. Often caused by a buildup of factors including work stress, relationships and major life changes, to more sinister reasons such as verbal, mental and physical abuse or trauma. It can also arise from physical health problems, personality factors and substance abuse.
ADHD has increased by over twenty-five per cent in the last decade, and many health professionals believe this extends beyond a physical stress problem, and is almost a cultural bi-product of our ever-increasingly hyperactive world.
Depression is onset by many of these factors, and over 500,000 Australians will experience depression in addition to another disorder at the same time at some point in their lives.
Allowing to give ourselves time to reflect can offset many of these problems, and meditation provides exactly that.
The Benefits of Meditation
Many people these days often view meditation with a stigma, believing that it is esoteric nonsense that is only practised by people who prefer to live ‘alternative’ lifestyles. Meditation is also avoided by people who are apprehensive about being left alone.
Taking time to focus on a sound, object, movement of breath, or something even nothing at all has been proven to assist emotional well-being and increase mental strength and focus. Practising meditation for twenty minutes a day has been demonstrated to have a substantially positive impact on our health.
Meditation has also proven to increase mental focus tens times more for those who practise, than those who don’t, and has been seen to improve memory retention, cognitive skills, and decision-making methods. Meditation has been proven to increase our immunity to diseases by over fifty per cent by reducing blood pressure, promoting breathing and a healthy heart rate, as well as improving energy levels.
Incorporating Meditation Into Your Life
One of the biggest problems is finding the time to incorporate meditation into our schedules. While there is no easy fix, it is important to find a time that works for you. As you make time for the gym, so you should also make time for your mind. For those living an increasingly hectic life, there are countless meditation apps that can conveniently educate you about the best methods to meditate.
We’ve narrowed down a few of our favourites:
Founded by former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe, Headspace is the most popular meditation app. For those who are keen to try it, the app offers a ten-day free trial period which provides colourful animations to show useful techniques to calm the mind and improve focus. For a small subscription, the app also has entire chapters on focus, improving relationships, and managing stress.
For those who are in a business-oriented environment, Whil will become your holy grail. Focused on aiming to provide better focus and a happier environment, it sets personalised goal-centred challenges for each employee. While this may seem off-putting, Whil makes use of the science around stress and individualises sessions ranging from stress management to sleeping methods for free.
Smiling Mind allows you to assess your mood based on three criteria: happiness, contentedness, and alertness. This app specialises programs and techniques for adults, teens, and children (targeted at those who are struggling in school). Smiling Mind free, but you can provide donations to help promote the app into Australian schools.
This app is ideal for those who are dipping their toes into the world of meditation for the first time. Stop, Breathe & Think relies on emotion, and looking at your feelings on that particular day. In addition to meditation, this app also offers breathing exercises, yoga and even acupressure videos. The app is free, but also can access more content for a small subscription.