Gut Health Reset Day 2: Managing Stress with Meditation
Takes you out of the “fight or flight” mode
When stressed, the body responds by going into “fight or flight” mode. After a prolonged period, this response can wreak havoc on our health. Meditation turns on the opposite response by promoting balance and calmness, which helps you live a more fulfilled (and less upset!) life.
Lowers your stress hormones
Cortisol, a major stress hormone, is released when you’re stressed. The more stressed you are, the more cortisol the body has to produce to try to cope. High levels of cortisol can contribute to anxiety, brain fog, depression, insomnia, and mood swings. Excess cortisol can also affect your body’s insulin response and lead to inflammation. By meditating, you’ll help reduce cortisol levels by inducing a state of calm, enhancing your cognitive functions and improving your mental health.
Clears your mind, enabling you to relax
Meditation challenges you to leave your worries behind so you can commit to a state of total relaxation. This might lead to better sleep, greater focus, and increased creativity – all things bound to make you feel more positive and less stressed throughout the day!
Stabilizes breathing and heart rate
Similar to yoga, meditation focuses on deep breathing and becoming aware of each breath you take. This is the opposite of stress, which increases heart rate and causes breathing to become more erratic.
Enables long-term resilience
Regular practice improves your response to stress over time. You might feel stronger mentally and emotionally, and things that once added stress to your life might not bother you as much.
Start small: You can reap the benefits of meditation by dedicating just a few minutes a day to your practice! Once you start to feel grounded and comfortable, we encourage you to increase your time.
Meditate at the same time each day: Maybe you meditate as soon as you wake up in the morning or for a few minutes before going to sleep. Include it in your daily routine so you continue to stick with it!
Focus on your breathing: One of the first steps to meditation is concentrating on your breathing. When you’re stressed, you often have an increased heart rate, so taking deep, long breaths will help you relax as you kick off your practice.
Get distracted: Silence your phone, turn off the TV, and close the door so you won’t be disturbed. It’s okay if thoughts come up as you try to meditate. Try to notice the thought and simply let it go without feeling the need to explore it during your practice.
Worry about how you meditate: It doesn’t matter what position or which guided meditation you or your friends use for their practice – what matters is that you’re doing it!
Expect perfection: We sometimes focus too much on emptying our minds and then get discouraged once we realize how hard it is! Instead, focus on finding a quiet space, breathing, and repeating your mantra. Meditation takes practice. Be patient with yourself and open to the experience.
GIVE IT A TRY WITH THIS GUIDED MEDITATION!
This designed guided meditation is for you to do anywhere. Set aside 10 minutes a few times per week to calm your mind, relax your body, and understand that you have what it takes to be whatever you wanna be in this world.
Download the InsightTimer app on your smartphone. It’s one of the top-rated meditation apps and allows you to set a timer with start and end sounds that feel right for you. Plus, there are hundreds of guided meditations to choose from to take your meditation practice to the next level.
Choose your mantra. Mantras are words or phrases repeated during a meditation practice. In order to focus and stop your mind from wandering, the words should mean something to you spiritually, mentally, or physically. Here are some examples:
“I communicate my thoughts clearly and effectively.”
“I connect with others easily and strive to build good relationships with my clients.”
“I have the power to be successful in my career.”
“I value my mind, emotions, body, and spirit.”
“Nothing has to be perfect; I embrace imperfection.”
“I am making progress toward my career goals [or insert a specific goal].”
“I am always learning and always growing.”
“The world is full of endless opportunities for me.”
“I will stay calm and carry on.”
“I release all expectations that are leading to feelings of stress.”
Select your meditation music. This can be anything you connect with and respond to in a positive, relaxed way.
Get comfortable! Find a quiet and relaxing place to meditate. It should be free from distractions and disruptive noise!
Begin. Follow the meditation on the next page and open up to the inspiration to come!
Let’s begin by becoming aware of your breathing. Take a deep breath and exhale gently. By breathing deeply and slowly, your body and mind will start to relax. Allow the tension to drift away.
Place one hand over your chest and feel it rise and fall. Take another deep breath in and exhale gently.
Begin by repeating the mantra you’ve selected. You can say it out loud or in your head, whichever feels right.
As you’re meditating, picture yourself radiating a level of energy that could fill a room. Where does this energy begin? Maybe it starts as a little flame in your heart chakra or the center of your body. Notice where it lives and then watch it grow. What does this feel like for you? Can you see it? Is it a golden light that shines bright? Does it feel warm and tingly? Does it bring a soft smile to your face? Let this light and warm feeling take over. Maybe you shake out your arms and move your head back and forth just to let this energy really sink in. This energy – right here and now – is your confidence. You can trust it because it’s rooted in the part of you that’s rooted in the universe, the divine, or whatever source of light, love, and peace makes sense to you. Your level of confidence is contagious because you feel it in your toes, up your legs, through your heart, and right up to your head.
Think about all the things that are causing you stress. Are you just having a bad day? Has this tension slowly been building up? Do you feel like you’re going to explode? As you continue to breathe in and out fully, address the feelings head-on.
Now think about some accomplishments you’ve had. They may be big or small, but you always have things to be proud of. Maybe you’re a good listener or you helped a client overcome a problem. Maybe you cooked dinner for your family or checked an item off your to-do list. Being successful doesn’t have one meaning; it means you’re accomplishing the goals you set for yourself. You are a unique individual and have so much to offer. You are successful. This is you at your best.
You are perfectly whole, complete, and all right, just the way you are. Accept yourself. Be kind to yourself. Take good care of yourself, physically and emotionally.
You are the best version of yourself.
Continue to allow your mind to drift to this place of love and acceptance as you get deeper into relaxation. Allow these affirmations to be true and feel true for you. Take a deep breath and take them all in.
Remember that we all face challenges and make mistakes – that’s just part of the journey. But you’re not going to allow stress to derail you or make you feel like you aren’t good enough or aren’t doing enough. You’re going to rise above it. Picture yourself with this extra weight lifted off your shoulders. Be in that moment and know that it’s possible to overcome any hurdle that lies ahead.
Instead of feeling like you aren’t good enough or aren’t doing enough and allowing your thoughts to become distracted, continue repeating your mantra for the next few minutes.
When you’re ready, wiggle your fingers and toes to come back to your physical space.