Stress and fear are two of the natural responses of the human mind. Like any other response, they can be useful if applied to the appropriate scenarios. For instance, if you are experiencing an imminent threat, activation of the natural fight or flight response can help a great deal. However, at other times when you find yourself consistently worrying, being anxious, or scared of something for no apparent reason, you can end up hitting the overall quality of your life. It can’t be more emphasized that being anxious or scared in response to a disturbing event is a natural phenomenon for all of us and that the feeling is supposed to slowly fade away. But for a good proportion of the humankind, the feelings of stress and fear can turn out to be chronic in nature. This is what hinders their day to day activities and prevents them from achieving their true potential in terms of productivity and creativity.
Being stressed or scared is usually associated with troubling thoughts. You could be stressed about a past event, scared of what is going to happen next in your life, or even anxious about the present circumstances of your life. Whatever the reason is, if you are what is commonly termed as the “born worriers” or have been experiencing episodes of excessive stress and fear only recently, then you have landed on the right page. You would be relieved to know that the answer for you lies in something as simple and time efficient as meditation. There is no argument over the benefits that meditation has to offer since it is a conventional technique that is being used for years by the mental health professionals and in practices of conventional medicine. But we don’t want you to take anything for granted. We aim to provide the information that you require in order to make an informed decision. Without further ado, let’s walk you through the ways in which meditation helps strengthen your mental capacities and pull you out of a vicious cycle of stress and fear.
The Changes Occurring Inside Your Brain
It is understandable that excessive stress and anxiety is the cause of your bad mood. But what the majority of us fail to comprehend is that the power of anxiety over your mind is much greater than that. Research has accentuated that anxiety can cause malfunctioning of the brain and even changes in terms of its structure. The part of the brain that is primarily responsible for storing the memories, known as the “HIPPOCAMPUS” can shrink in size as a result of excessive stress, fear, and anxiety. On the other hand, “AMYGDALA”, the part of the brain that is responsible for producing the fight or flight response expands in size causing a feeling of chronic fear or anxiety in an individual.
The bad news is that the changes occurring inside your brain due to excessive stress and fear are not confined to just that. For the purpose of communication, the brain cells release certain chemicals which are known as the neurotransmitters. In response to stress, fear, and anxiety, stress hormones are excessively produced in the brain causing an imbalance of these chemicals leading to a malfunction that translates into further stimulation of the feeling of stress and fear.
The good news, however, is that the simple and time efficient practices of meditation can help a great deal in not only reducing stress and fear but also antagonizing the structural and functional disruptions caused by anxiety for a more permanent cure. Regular meditation, therefore, can help even the most chronic patients of anxiety.
Meditation – A Barricade For Negative Thoughts
Regardless of how chronic or lifelong your patterns of mood swings, stress, fear, and anxiety have been, meditation can help pull you out of the vicious cycle. If you have been experiencing anxiety lately, you can testify that troubling thoughts which are primarily due to the “mental time travel” that pushes you to overanalyze your past or overthink about the future, are the root cause of the cycling worry and anxiety. By breaking the pattern of negative self-talk, meditation puts a barricade between you and the disturbing thoughts. The whole point of meditation is to activate the natural relaxation response of the body by removing the negative emotions such as stress and fear. It does so by collecting your wandering thoughts and focus from the past and the future and bringing it all together to the present, to an event that is positive and harmless. This is what naturally helps in making you calm and peaceful.
Meditation – A Simple Practice To Reestablish The Balance Inside Your Brain
Much like the range of mental disorders, it is difficult to pinpoint the root cause of anxiety. There could be a wide range of factors associated with this negative emotion. It could be emotional trauma, a disturbing event in the past, a troubling thought of the present, the fear regarding the time to come, and even your genes or the personality type. As mentioned earlier, excessive stress, fear, and anxiety are associated with the stimulated production of the stress hormone known as Cortisol. The hormone is also capable of disrupting the natural balance of the neurotransmitters inside the brain.
How meditation helps you with the sense of stress and fear is by stimulating the production of a different neurotransmitter known as GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). This chemical plays a significant role in the activation of the relaxation response. Moreover, regular practice of meditation can cause an increase in the serotonin levels of the body, a hormone known as the “Happy Hormone” as it betters the mood and makes you feel peaceful and happier. Finally, meditation and mindfulness practices do also put a check on the overproduction of Cortisol in order to minimize the stress response.
Meditation – Your Personal NZT To Unlock Your Limitless Potential
If you are looking for a healthier brain that outsmarts the average intelligence and emotional quotient and works optimally at all times, regular meditation and a handful of mindfulness exercises is the way to go for you. Studies have shown that meditation optimizes the blood flow to the brain cells that translates into an improved capacity to learn and memorize new things. It stimulates your productive and creative side by making the hippocampus more voluminous, thickening the cortex, and increasing the size of the gray matter. On the other hand, it causes a shrink in the amygdala and makes it less reactive. Research has also highlighted the effects of regular meditation against the age-related demise of the human mind which also includes “Alzheimer’s Disease”. With regular mindfulness practices, therefore, you are not only achieving your true mental potential in the present but are also future proofing yourself against the declines in your mental capacities in the years to come. Remember, a happier and a healthier brain is an imperative component that determines the overall quality of your life.
Meditation – A Surefire Way Of Preventing Brain Inflammation
Last but not least, excessive stress, fear, anxiety or any other negative emotion can produce inflammation of the brain cells. Such an anomaly can cause a hindrance in the optimal functioning of the brain. Inflammation is caused by stimulation of specific chemicals known as Cytokines, the regulation of which is primarily in control of the human immune system.
Regular meditation is a tried and tested strategy to keep the inflammation of the brain cells in check that consequently works to reduce the negative emotions and sensations. The effect that mindfulness practices have on reducing inflammation has been shown to penetrate the genetic level. Its capacity is well beyond altering the pro-inflammatory genes’ expression. It is understandable for you to think that a change in the genetic expression is going to take a lot of time. But what if we told you, 8 HOURS, yes, that’s all that it takes for meditation to produce the same effect.
While there is nothing wrong in feeling stressed or scared in response to an event, it gets frustratingly troublesome when the condition starts to become lasting for you. As evident from the information mentioned above, meditation and mindfulness exercises are a guaranteed way of letting go of such negative emotions and restoring the optimal state of your mind. This is a strategy that doesn’t cost you anything, it’s free to practice, it’s highly time-efficient taking no more than 30 minutes of your time each day, it doesn’t require any kind of special equipment or materials, it can be practiced anywhere as long as you can find a quiet and peaceful corner, and it produces effects that you experience with the matter of minutes. Considering the pros pointing in favor of regular meditation, you can take it for granted that choosing it for a habit is a decision that you won’t have to regret making. Here’s a small challenge for you. Try meditation for yourself for only a week. If you don’t witness the change, you’re free to leave it.