Healthy Choice Voice: 6 Easy Steps to Reduce Your Stress

Meditate

(Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net)

By Katrina Avila                                   

In an attempt to build our resumes for when we are ready to leave the comfort of college and head out into the real world, we are constantly buzzing around trying to do a million different things at once.  We run around campus from obligation to obligation and set aside little to no time for ourselves. It leaves us physically and, worse, mentally exhausted, often to the point of breaking down. It is not uncommon for our bodies or minds to give out on us for a while, resulting in that nasty cold or that zombie-like state we get trapped in for a week or two.

How can we relax ourselves enough to prevent this from happening? Relaxing takes hours to do, and that is the kind of time that we college students just do not have, but there is a “quick” fix. Meditation is a good way to rid our minds of everything for a short period of time. Just 15 minutes of meditation each day can result in a better peace of mind.

According to the Mayo Clinic, meditation can help us gain a new point of view on stressful situations, increase our self-awareness, focus on the present, and reduce negative emotions. Meditation can also help with anxiety disorders, depression, high blood pressure, and sleep problems.

So, you may be asking, “how do I start meditating?” Well, it’s simple. Here’s how :

  1. Rid yourself of distractions—turn off your cell phone, iPad, laptop, etc. Only keep one of these devices on if you’re using it to listen to calming music. We’ll discuss music in Step 3. Set yourself up in a space that is removed from highly trafficked areas.
  2. Get comfortable—sit on the floor, grass, a comfy chair, or lay on your bed. Just be sure not to fall asleep. While you don’t have to sit in lotus position (legs folded beneath you with your hands on your knees), some people find that it helps them concentrate more on their breathing.
  3. Set the mood—music has the ability to alter our moods, but lyrics and repetitive beats can be very distracting. Sounds of nature can rid our minds of almost anything. Try listening to Calm Meditation Radio on Pandora.
  4. Close your eyes—our eyes constantly wander. This can be a huge distraction and can break your meditation. Keep them closed!
  5. Focus on your breathing—breathe in and out through your nose. Try inhaling for a count of four and exhaling for a count of four. Once you are comfortable breathing at that pace and it feels natural, stop counting.
  6. Relax your body—our bodies are full of tension due to the amount of stress we take on every day. Consciously focus on relaxing each part of your body. Start with your head and work all the way down to your toes. You might have to adjust your posture to do this, but that’s okay. Stay focused on your breathing. You shouldn’t think about anything but relaxing your body throughout your meditation. The idea is to rid your mind of all your troubles.

Your first time meditating could last a little longer than 15 minutes, because relaxing your body can take some time, but it’s well worth it. If meditation doesn’t work for you the first time, keep trying. The results are not instant, but they are well worth it.