The Resolution Solution: 7 Goals You Can Meet This Year
I resolve to...take a 30-second time-out.
To lower your blood pressure, stress levels, and risk for heart disease, you could take up kickboxing, make over your diet, and start training for your first half-marathon. Or you could simply learn to breathe better by meditating. When you're stressed, your body produces the hormone cortisol, which raises heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, and muscle tension as part of a temporary reaction preparing you to tackle whatever it is that's stressing you out. Trouble is, the perpetual pressure that most of us feel means that the stuff is coursing through our bodies continuously. But meditation induces physiological changes in your body, telling it to calm down and stop churning out cortisol, in turn improving circulation, relaxing muscles, and allowing tension to dissipate. In fact, a study of college students found that those who regularly meditated reduced their long-term risk of high blood pressure by 52 percent.
You don't have to get all Eat Pray Love to reap the benefits of meditation. While many experts recommend 20 to 30 minutes a day, even a mini session will help when you're feeling overwhelmed, says psychologist Alice D. Domar, PhD, director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health in Boston. Simply take a deep breath in through your nose (so deep that both your chest and your abdomen expand), slowly counting to four as you inhale. Pause for a few seconds, then exhale through your mouth, slowly counting backward from four to one. Repeat this a few times, then return to what you were doing. "This breathing exercise can make you feel better in 30 seconds," Domar says. Plus, it teaches your body a better way to respond to high-pressure situations so stress can take less of a toll in the future.More ways to de-stress:
What do you think of this story? Leave a Comment.