I’m embarrassed to admit it. But I actually believed leaving young adulthood behind would mean finally leaving stress behind. That if I just made it to middle age it would be smooth sailing from there.
Boy was I wrong. Now I realize that no matter what milestones you reach you’re simply trading in one set of stressors for another.
Sure, starting a family, buying a house or dating might not be at the top of your stress list any longer. But now you may be worried about grown children, major health issues or making your retirement money stretch far enough.
Stress doesn’t discriminate based on age. And neither does the harm it can do to your health and quality of life.
Because make no mistake about it, stress is damaging.
Chronic stress harms your health
Stress if often referred to as a silent killer. Our body reacts to it by ramping up the production of cortisol. The excess cortisol and the adrenaline it triggers eventually can take its toll on our immune system, blood pressure and even brain function.
And according to the American Psychological Association, American’s are starting to lose the battle. With worries about finances, health, politics and even traffic keeping us stuck in a state of chronic stress.
Headaches, memory loss, brain fog, adrenal fatigue, bone loss and heart disease could all follow. Unless we do something to cure our stress problem, that is.
And research conducted at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory has revealed that a stress and anxiety cure that dates back thousands of years could help us do just that.
Military researchers prove meditation stops stress
The U.S. Army researchers worked with a team at the University of North Texas to develop a new data processing technique which did something incredible. It was finally able to prove that what folks have been saying for centuries was true.
And that is meditation is a cure for stress.
Using the new technique researchers were able to compare changes in heart rate directly to brain activity. And while the science behind it gets a bit complicated, the researchers say they can now physically measure the drop in stress which meditation produces.
And equally as exciting, they found that if you make meditation a regular habit the benefits stick and become permanent changes. Plus meditators end up having what experts call “stronger executive control.”
What that boils down to is being better at setting and reaching goals and having stronger cognitive abilities. Things I think we can all agree we want for ourselves.
Now I know what you’re probably thinking. Candles, incense and chanting “ohm” really aren’t your scene. I get it. They aren’t mine either.
But here’s the thing. Meditation doesn’t actually have to involve that stuff. In fact, meditation doesn’t have to be hippy dippy at all. It’s simply about focusing on a single moment in time and removing all other distractions from your thoughts.
And one of the easiest ways to do that is to concentrate on your breathing. Because when you focus entirely on your breathing—following it in through the nose and out through the mouth—it doesn’t leave any room for you to feel stressed or anxious.
3 ways to get started on meditation TODAY
The Army researchers compared two different kinds of meditation—Chi and Yoga—and found both were effective. But you don’t have to learn a specific type to take advantage of this stress cure.
Any type of dedicated meditation practice can help you dial down your stress levels. And you can literally get started today.
1. Online videos:
There are dozens of free online videos that walk you through simple meditation routines. Go to Youtube.com and search for some. Try a few out until you find one you like and then stick with it to reduce your stress. Remember regular practice can make those meditation benefits permanent.
2. Smartphone apps:
You can use your smartphone as a meditation coach too. Go to the app store on your phone and search for meditation. You’ll find there are bunches of guided meditation apps available. Many of them offer free sessions with an option to upgrade to get even more routines.
3. Go local:
If you prefer a real world experience with an actual instructor, check what’s available locally. Free or affordable meditation and mindful movement style classes can be found in both big cities and smaller towns. Give your local YMCA a call and ask what they have available. And if you’re a senior, you can check with your local senior center too.
Stop sickening stress and anxiety in their tracks, no matter your age. Start a meditation routine today.