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The Best Cure For Anxiety?

Anxiety is something which more and more people can relate to these days. It can present itself in a variety of different ways, a lot of the time due to our stressful lifestyles. This is a condition which arises in the nervous system. The autonomic nervous system has two main divisions, the Sympathetic Nervous System (Fight or Flight) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (rest and digest). High cortisol levels in the body occur from stressful situations, this generates the fight or flight response.

When we are constantly in a state of Fight or Flight and not inducing a state of Rest and Digest, various things can happen in the body, not just an anxious state of mind. Issues such as muscle tension, headache, stomach ache, insomnia, hypertension and shallow breathing are quite common. These fairly minor health issues can, in time, lead to more serious problems if we are perpetually in a stressful state. Shallow breathing is an interesting one to spend a moment on. When we breathe quickly, our body is most definitely in a sympathetic state. When we introduce deep breathing, the body tends to relax, entering into a parasympathetic state. Take a moment to observe your normal breath, is it shallow or deep?

The amount of research on the subject is ongoing, it’s widely accepted nowadays that practicing meditation daily can help to reduce the stress levels on the body. Dr Herbert Benson of Harvard University has founded the mind/body Medical Institute and is a professor of Mind/Body medicine. His life’s work maintains that the practice of meditation has vast positive effects on the physical as well as mental health. Dr Benson recommends sitting for 10-20 minutes daily - the majority of people tend to favour the morning time. By sitting and consciously relaxing the body, breathing deeply, perhaps using a word to repeat or focus on (or a mantra), otherwise counting the breath and disregarding thoughts as they enter the mind, instead, coming back to your word or breath count.

Initially, this can be quite difficult, as we are so over-stimulated with information throughout the day. It’s quite natural for thoughts to be constantly firing. However, with the perseverance of this practice, as with anything, it does become easier. Similarly in yoga, the focus on the breath is necessary for the same reason - to ensure you remain in the present moment instead of concerned with outside thoughts.

Regular meditation has been shown to reduce blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate. People who meditate are more likely to live longer, avoid chronic illness, sleep properly and have overall better mental health.

Anxiety has a very definite connection with how we live our lives. Our state of tension must have a link to the amount of time people are spending looking at screens. Taking some time out of your day to put down the phone or close the laptop will no doubt have a positive effect too. Having a no screen rule an hour before bed is a good way to start relaxing your mind. Activities like reading or making something with your hands can induce a parasympathetic state.

If you prefer to do the meditation at the end of the day rather than the beginning, this is something you could do before bed. Enter into this practice with an open mind, no goals and maintain a passive attitude toward it, it’s not a competition, it’s an opportunity for you to observe how your mind works and learn about yourself on a deeper level.

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