Using meditation for stress relief is one of the most widely held reasons people begin this practice. There is no doubt that our stress levels due to work and family obligations tend to rise over time. It is as if we are being over extended, becoming burned out. This stress causes mental as well as physical health problems. We become imbalanced and find increased anxiety, less productivity, and emotional instability. But meditation can help relieve some of this stress and improve all these symptoms at once.
You may have heard of decision fatigue which basically says that during the day there only a finite number of different decisions that we can make before performance decreases and stress levels rise. After this our decisions not only become less effective but can actually be harmful to your being. Decisions range the gamut of work related, small decisions, all the way up to life changing decisions like moving to a new city or taking a new job.
Meditation helps to relieve this fatigue by consciously not making decisions as thoughts enter our mind. We may have thoughts like “What color tie should I wear?” a decision needs to be made, what lane to drive in, the right thing to say, etc. Even these small, seemingly inconsequential examples take some sort of decision power. Further more we judge these decisions like “was that color tie the right choice?” what lane is faster, am I in the right lane. The brain goes working on overdrive.
One way that meditation for stress relief works is enabling your mind to think without making decisions, judgements. Judgements are really what we are talking about here, every time you judge something you are making a decision. When a thought enters your heads there are times that you even wonder if you should be thinking about that particular thing. Again a decision needs to be made, and we are constantly making them during the judging process. Meditation takes this stress and takes the decision out of the equation. We simply observe the thoughts and make no choice about them. We let them happen. This gives our brains a rest and helps reduce the decision fatigue and ultimately the stress we put on ourselves.
A simple way for you to use meditation for stress relief is when you find yourself overwhelmed give yourself five minutes to just sit and do nothing. Do not make decisions, let the mind process the information without your conscious input. The best and least stressful route will start to present itself. The next choice even becomes easier because you did not judge every solution but instead let your brain figure it out on its own: without your conscious input (but your input none the less, no need to discount your ultimate role :) ) Repeat as necessary.
Meditation gives you moments of peace to let your mind recover from the activities of living in the modern world. It gives you the break from always having to make a decision and lets you just “be.” In all your beautiful glory.