Research estimates up to 90% of all illnesses have a cause-effect relationship with stress. And most of this stress stems from unhealthy lifestyles and habits that we may think are unavoidable.
Fortunately, we can mitigate stress and its effects on our lives. Meditation is a healthy solution that helps us become calmer and reduces stress and anxiety. But how does meditation calm the nervous system?
Here are eight simple ways that practicing meditation regularly can calm your nervous system and reduce your stress levels.
1. Promotes Relaxation and Improves Sleep Quality
Meditative practices are great for reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and pain. It can also mitigate insomnia and improve sleep quality. This means you can wake up calmer and happier each morning.
2. Increases Self-Awareness
Meditation encourages us to be very aware of our thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. This practice in self-awareness helps us focus on positive and helpful thoughts while taking note of and dealing with negative ones.
3. Improves Focus and Attention
Meditation for the nervous system enhances breathing and increases our oxygen intake. The more oxygen our brain receives, the more alert it is. Surprisingly, this type of alertness doesn’t come with hyperactivity or anxiety; instead, it helps us feel calm.
Meditation to calm the nervous system also helps by slowing our thought cycles, allowing us to focus on the present moment. This ultimately helps us be more mindful in daily life, concentrate better, and worry less about the past or future.
4. Helps Us Become Less Self-Critical
Negative self-talk is a major stressor for many people. Meditation that focuses on loving-kindness can help silence the voice of that inner critic that so many of us fail to control.
These loving-kindness meditation programs work at increasing self-compassion and positive emotions. This can help reduce self-critical thoughts and symptoms of depression.
5. Makes Us Grateful and Appreciative
Focusing on negative experiences or getting lost in harmful thoughts and feelings can keep us in a seemingly endless anxiety loop. This can be undone through mindful meditation practices that force us to shift our mindset.
Focusing on positive things helps us become more appreciative of what life has to offer. With regular practice, we will find ourselves entertaining mostly optimistic thoughts and feelings.
6. Reduces Social Anxiety and Increases Feelings of Social Connection
Social anxiety impacts every aspect of our lives—personal relationships, work, and everyday duties. It is a form of negative self-talk with an added element of a social setting that can induce high anxiety and stress.
Meditation enhances emotion regulation in those with social anxiety disorders. Practicing loving-kindness meditation has also shown promising results in cultivating positive emotions and improving interpersonal interactions.
7. Reduces Inflammation and Stress Responses
Inflammation is both a source of stress and its effect, which keeps fueling the body’s stress responses. It can occur due to disease, everyday stress, or many other reasons. But it can be difficult to mitigate inflammation without causing more complications.
One study shows promising results in the use of meditation to calm nerves to minimize inflammation while also reducing stress.
8. Decreases Blood Pressure
Studies suggest a correlation between anxiety and a high risk of hypertension. This means managing our anxiety can help us avoid such a condition.
One research study has shown that transcendental meditation has the power to reduce hypertension.
A Medication With Many Benefits: Meditation
Not only does meditation help with nerves and anxiety, but it also leads to feelings of relaxation and a good night’s sleep.
The best part of meditation is that it is accessible to just about everyone—all that’s needed is some time and a place to sit.