Meditation For Stress Management

Libby Shively McAvoy
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When daily pressures and life’s demands build, they cause stress and anxiety. Add a significant life event, such as the death of a loved one or job loss, and it can feel like there is no escaping. Life will always come with stress, but how we cope with and manage it is powerful.

With meditation, we can tune out the chaos of the external world and go within. Stress management boils down to the supply and demand of our emotional resources. If your mind was a race car and you were constantly revving your engine, eventually, the car would get overheated and blow a piston. In flight or flight mode, the mind is doing just that — it is in perpetual survival mode all revved up.

Meditation allows all those busy thoughts bouncing around in your head to dissipate, providing deep relief and relaxation. Meditation increases awareness that eventually carries with you into everyday life. With higher levels of self-awareness, we are better equipped to respond rather than react and to remain resilient. We learn to practice accepting what is and trust the process rather than resisting reality.

Why Meditation is Affective for Managing and Combatting Stress

The amygdala in the brain works like our emotional thermostat, regulating our response to fears and uncertainties. The amygdala signals the sympathetic nervous system, which perceives danger, thus triggering fight or flight mode. Being in fight or flight causes us to act impulsively and feel out of control.

Chronic, long-term stress can cause physical and mental health problems- much like the sports car revving its engine, you too will burn out if you do not stop at a rest area for a while.

Studies using MRIs have shown that regular meditation can shrink the amygdala allowing us to respond rather than react. By minimizing your stress response, meditation can improve overall health.

There are many styles of meditation. Start slowly and increase the length of your practice as you grow comfortable. The beauty of meditation is that it can be done anywhere and at any age. It may seem not easy at first, but be gentle with yourself. Do not try to force anything. When we resist, things get more challenging.

Key Take Aways and Benefits of Meditation

  • Meditation clears the mind, making the space necessary to focus and prioritize our emotions. 
  • Meditation is a way to train your attention to achieve a calm, clear mental state.
  • It brings you back to present moment awareness. Most worry and anxiety come from reliving the past or worry about the future. In the present we are safe. 
  • Meditation teaches us to accept situations, thoughts, and feelings as they are, free from judgment. 
  • It increases self-awareness which is the catalyst for change.
  • Meditation lengthens our attention span.
  • It helps control cravings and addictions. As you become more self-aware, you simultaneously become more self-disciplined.
  • It improves sleep. 
  • Meditation decreases blood pressure by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, or rest and digest.

Final Thoughts

Meditation reduces stress and anxiety. Mental and physical stress cause the body to produce cortisol which releases inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. Meditation reduces the inflammation response, allowing for improved sleep, memory, immune system, and blood pressure.

There are online apps with guided meditation, and you can also find excellent ones on YouTube. Listening to a guided meditation at bedtime helps when I cannot sleep. I also enjoy meditating first thing in the morning to set the tone for my day.

You can do seated meditation on a yoga mat, but also in a comfortable chair or bed. If you find it difficult to sit still, try a walking meditation. There are many beliefs about exactly how you should meditate, which direction to face…Don’t get caught up in the minutia until you get more experienced with the practice. 

I hope you enjoy this form of stress management in your life. 


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Libby is a Personal Development and Relationship coach specializing in emotional intelligence. By blending motivational speaking, leading yoga and wellness retreats, and writing, she has mastered the art of living her best life while helping others.

Cincinnati, OH

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