No Nonsense, Evidence Based Practical Advice on How to Reduce Stress and Feel Good – Part 1

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that stress, tension and worry are on the increase in contemporary times. Outlined below is one method and skill you can cultivate to bring in a sense of equilibrium and harmony to your life.

Meditation

Too often meditation is seen as a quasi/pseudo unrealistic endeavor to bring about the reduction of stress and anxiety. The reality is, it actually works. A simple search on a university science journal database found the following peer reviewed studies which provide evidence for that statement.

Andrew Winzelberg and Frederic Luskin (1999) of Stanford University, California conducted a study of the effect of meditation training on secondary school teachers and found that the meditation group which took the prescribed 4 x 45 minute meditation training sessions saw significant reductions in stress symptoms in post study measurements. These included in the areas of emotional/behavioral manifestations and gastronomic distress.¹

Istvan Schreiner and James P. Malcolm (2008) of The University of Western Sydney conducted a study on mindfulness mediation and its effects on those that suffered states of depression, stress, and anxiety. The study looked at 50 people who suffered from a range of these conditions and found that at the end of the 10 week mindfulness mediation program, the severity levels of conditions amongst this study group decreased significantly. A bigger reduction was found in those that suffered from the more severe forms of these conditions. The study concluded as per the results that mindfulness training was and is beneficial in reducing the symptoms of subclinical depression and anxiety and can reduce the resulting symptoms of stress.²

Shamini Jain et al. (2007) of Santa Clara University , The University of Arizona, The San Diego State University Department, and The University of California conducted a study that looked at the effect meditation, both ‘mindful’ and ‘somatic relaxation’ methods had on negative, stressful and depressive disorders. Both methods were shown to significantly decrease distractive, ruminative thoughts and behaviors as well as to increase positive mood states.³

Time and time again meditation shows to increase positive mood states whilst also reducing the symptoms of stress, tension and anxiety. So now that understanding the benefits and seeing the evidence have been cleared away, how do we go about meditating?

How to Meditate

Meditating becomes easier with practice much like anything else.

Find a quiet, relaxed setting. Sit down in a comfortable chair, close your eyes and become aware of your breath. Do this for 10 – 30 minutes daily, four times a week and you’ll notice a difference in your ‘state’ after the first week.

Your thoughts may wonder, even for as much as five minutes or more when you start, but that’s part of the process and should be recognized as such. When you have become aware that your mind has drifted, simply return to your breath uncritically.

If you’re looking for further information as to how one can go about implementing a habit, please check out Steve Pavlina’s Blog post on the subject here.

I hope this is of some benefit – look out for Part 2 soon.

– Michael

1. Winzelberg, A.J. & Luskin, F.M. Stress and Health (formerly Stress Medicine); April 1999, Vol. 15 Issue: Number 2 p69-77, 9p
2. Schreiner, Istvan & Malcolm, James, Behavior Change; September 2008, Vol. 25 Issue: Number 3 p156-168, 13p
3. Jain, Shamini et al., Annals of Behavioral Medicine; December 2007, Vol. 33 Issue: Number 1 p11-21, 11p

Copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved. This article may not be published, rewritten, reprinted or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of the Author.