Stress is your body’s natural alarm system that can cause your breathing to quicken and heart rate and blood pressure to rise. Meditation is a practice – often using deep breathing, quiet thinking or focus on something neutral like a color or a phrase. These tactics can help you let go of stress and feel at peace.
There are countless types of meditation and it’s important to find the one that works best for you.
Transcendental meditation is a technique that allows your mind to focus inward, maintaining alertness to other thoughts or sensations without allowing them to interfere. It’s done seated with your eyes closed for 20 minutes, twice a day.
Mindful mediation may use sound or touch, for example the ringing of a bell, chanting, beads or a simple object to help the mind to focus. Relaxation response meditation uses a single word to focus on.
Tai chi is a form of “moving meditation,” it incorporates gentle movements that require deep concentration and balance.
Yoga is an ancient practice of stretching and breathing used to prepare the body for long periods of meditation.
Adopting a mantra or some positive self-talk is another great way to deal with stress. We have all been caught talking to ourselves, but when we do it in our heads and speak positively, we can help calm our stress. Instead of saying “I can’t do this,” you can say, “I’m doing the best I can.”
While meditation can offer a technique for lowering stress, and your risk for heart disease, it can’t replace other important lifestyle changes like eating healthier, losing or managing weight, reducing salt or getting regular physical activity. It’s also not a substitute for any medication your doctor may have prescribed as part of your treatment plan. Learn all the ways you can change your lifestyle at heart.org/healthyforgood.