“I will not get mad. I will not act a fool. I will not cause a scene.”
This was the motto that my best friend and I said throughout college whenever we faced an unwanted situation. We’d text this to each other as a 911 call to calm one another down. If we were on the phone, we’d repeat after one another until we felt less tense. Even though it was a catchy phrase back in the day, it was a real mantra for two queens in college just trying to graduate, one term paper, football game, and Greek party at a time.
Looking back, that was my introduction to meditation – something that I can’t live without as an adult in my ’bout to be 30s. There are several theories on how and where meditation began, and some even argue that this calming practice started before universal civilization. One thing is for sure: it’s been a proven solution for stress management.
Here are three benefits of meditation. Please note that I’m no doctor, I’m just a dope writer sharing a healthy de-stress method that works for me:
Control your stress, control your health. When our bodies are exposed to stress, we feel variations of an adrenaline rush as a result of releasing the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine. These hormones cause an increase in blood pressure, pulse rate, faster breathing, and increased blood flow to your muscles. Meditation provides a relaxation response to those hormones while decreasing blood pressure and other vitals.
Meditate anywhere, literally. The thing that I like most about meditation is that it can be done anywhere. There have been countless times where I wake up in the morning and take ten minutes to practice breathing exercises. I have also used a few minutes during my work day to play some calming music and think about positive affirmations at my desk. When that driver cuts me off in rush hour traffic, I don’t scream, “[expletive] you with your bad [expletive] driving.” Instead, I take three deep breaths and keep it moving. Wherever you are, meditation can work.
Contributes to weight management. How many times have you said to a colleague, “today was a stressful day at work, let’s go grab a drink,” or, “I’ll treat myself to this dessert because I’m over it and I deserve a treat.” Believe it or not, these behaviors indicate that you look to food and libations to de-stress. Eating as a method to de-stress also causes emotional eating and drinking that can lead to avoidable weight gain. Have you ever heard the saying, “stressed spelled backwards is desserts?” Well, let it slide in one ear and two-step out the other. Once I started using meditation instead of food to release stress, I began to feel better, I had more energy, and didn’t feel guilty for the rare times I snuck a second handfull of birthday cake Oreos.
Remember, meditation is an art form – and anyone can be an artist. We all know that we can’t avoid stress, and it comes in many different forms from every aspect of our lives. The important key is how you manage your stress. If you’ve never tried meditation, close your eyes for 20 seconds and take a series of deep breaths. Visualize something positive, something calming. Focus on your posture – sit up straight, with your chest out. Breathe. Envision. Relax. Repeat.
Take ownership of your stress instead of letting stress take ownership over you.