Easy Ways to Meditate to Reduce Cortisol and Improve Your Health
You might be reading this on your phone from the carpool line where you’re picking up your kids from school or at the DMV, waiting anxiously to have your number called. You might be reading this after a very long and stressful day. I’m here to remind you of something you probably need to hear: Breathe. Relax. There is boundless beauty in the world of which you are a part!
So many of us are in a constant state of stress and hurry that we forget what it’s like to live without it. That isn’t always a bad thing! Stress has the potential to motivate us, but only if we give it a place in our lives. Many of us struggle with learning to compartmentalize it and stop it from taking over.
Stress isn’t just a drain on us mentally and spiritually, it is also attributed to physiological issues because of something of which it creates too much: cortisol. Cortisol is a bodily chemical — your adrenal glands release cortisol in response to fear or stress as part of the fight-or-flight mechanism. It occurs naturally and it is, by all means, a part of the human experience, but too much of anything isn’t ideal. Chronic stress causes cortisol levels to build up in the blood.
So how does cortisol affect us? Elevated cortisol levels interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease, and depression. High cortisol levels cause inflammation in the body, a main cause of many diseases.
I’m here to tell you: mindfulness is our internal secret power to manage the energies we encounter in the world. You can fend off the lingering effects of cortisol with meditation and, by the result, mindfulness, which both have been shown in studies to decrease cortisol and inflammatory proteins. Ten minutes of meditation every day helps lower stress hormones and decreases inflammation in the body.
If you’re a novice to meditation or you need a quick, easy process, here’s an easy to follow guide:
- Find a quiet place, somewhere you can be by yourself and where life can’t interfere.
- Make sure you’re comfortable: rest your body so you can rest your mind by using meditation cushions, blankets, yoga mat, or even use essential oils to create the ideal environment.
- Pick your position: you can meditate however you’d like, but if you need an idea, you can sit in the traditional cross-legged pose.
- Follow your breathing for guidance (deep breathing engages the Vagus nerve which triggers a signal within your nervous system to slow heart rate, lower blood pressure, and decrease cortisol)
- Think about a mantra or affirmation that is meaningful to you and your needs or repeat this to yourself:
“From this day forward, I pledge to honor myself, care for myself, and treat myself with care.
I am worthy.
I am powerful.
I am gloriously me!”
In just eight weeks, meditation can help lower inflammatory molecules and stress hormones by around 15%. When inflammation occurs in the body in short term, it is a side effect of the body’s response to protect itself. But if it a long term state, it can lead to damage cellular tissue. Chronic inflammation contributes to issues such as type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer. To gain more knowledge on and practice with meditation, you can check out my book, A Little Bit Meditation!
Even if you aren’t actively meditating, remember to work on being tender with yourself. This is an exercise in mindfulness. Show up for yourself as you would a loved one in need! Your trials and tribulations will lead you to victory through vulnerability, but only if you are fully present for them. Commit yourself to start a mindfulness revolution!