With these newsletters I've been trying to strike a balance between nutrition and lifestyle tips. Health is about so much more than just nutrition. Your environment and your mindset make a huge difference as well.
That's why I wanted to talk a bit about meditation today. It's a powerful tool I use to reduce my stress, improve my concentration, and ultimately achieve the balance I need in my life to experience my best health.
My favorite time to meditate is before I leave for work each morning. When I don't have time to meditate, or I miss multiple days in a row because of a trip, I can truly feel the difference. I'm easily agitated, more prone to anxiety, and don't have the normal sense of calm and emotional resiliency I usually experience on days when I meditate.
These days I dedicate 20-30 minutes a day to meditation, but I definitely didn't start out that way. And some days I only have time for 2-5 minutes of focused breathing before heading out the door. It still works better than skipping meditation completely and helps bring focus to my day.
Over time, I've also become better at listening to the cues my body is giving. When the muscles in my jaw, neck, or shoulders are tense, or my breathing is shallow, I know I need to pause and take a few deep breaths. Meditation doesn't have to be a long guided experience in a quiet space every time. It can look very different every day depending on what you feel you need.
The only health benefit I knew of before I gave meditation a try was that it helped with anxiety. I began to notice many changes in my life, and when I dug into why I began to understand the true power of meditation.
Did you know meditation can:
- Lower blood pressure & improve chronic illness
- Increase the gray matter in areas of your brain responsible for learning and memory and the regulation of emotions (check out the study here)
- Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression
- Decrease negative emotions/increase feelings of positivity
- Improve concentration & focus
…and the list goes on
It's pretty incredible that paying attention to your breath and your mind can have such a profound impact on your life.
There are many different types of meditation as well. The one you likely hear about most is called mindfulness. This is what I practice most commonly. Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment and non-judgmentally paying attention to your thoughts, sensations, and experience. Mindfulness meditations are typically guided by someone telling you what to pay attention to, but they can be unguided as well once you get the hang of it.
If mindfulness doesn't seem like a good fit, there are many other types of meditation available.
Here's an overview of 23 different meditation types if you're interested in exploring more of them. They all have different methods and benefits, so there's surely one out there that will resonate well with you.
Think you're ready to give it a try? Here are some apps I recommend:
- Headspace: I got started with Headspace using their Take 10 program, which is 10 minutes a day for 10 days. It really helps you understand how to meditate using the mindfulness strategy.
- Insight Timer: This is my favorite app these days. It's kind of like social media for meditation. You can see ratings and reviews and you can even see what meditations your friends are doing if you connect with people. There are over 2 millions meditations available and many different types as well. They're all organized by category and you can filter by length of meditation.
- Calm: I got into this app after Headspace. All the meditations are by the same woman, so if you like her voice, you're golden! I love to go to the calm website while I'm working and turn on the nature sounds (called scenes) for calming background noise.
As always, I'm here to help when you're ready to take your health to the next level! I love helping my clients find balance in their lives so they can achieve their optimal health.