The pandemic continues to drag on and for many people stress levels are at an all time high. There are so many unknowns including the virus itself, the economy, the future and about what comes next when life kickstarts again. Many are concerned about our kids and their education and even about how much we’ve been boredom eating. All of these things create increased stress, anxiety levels and panic led behaviours.
Stress is how our body reacts to physical, mental and emotional strain. Everyone feels stress at one time or another and at times, a temporary period of moderate stress can be just the thing we need to pass exams, or deliver a project on time, by giving us a laser-like level of focus. Stress on your body over short period of time is a positive thing. Stress launches your body into ‘fight-or-flight’ mode, which unleashes a chain reaction of chemical reactions in your body as it prepares itself to attack, freeze or flee.
Our fast pace of modern living and the demands digital life has created a generation of workers were already suffering more stress than ever, even before the Coronovirus Pandemic. This ‘always on’ economy is causing us chronic stress. Chronic stress is essentially a state of being whereby your stress response is constantly triggered without rest and this takes a huge toll on your health, manifesting itself as irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches, insomnia, muscle or back pain, and even leading to illnesses such as diabetes, or heart attacks. What’s even more ironic is that all this anxiety is reducing our immune responses. Yep. Madness!
So what can we do about it?
There is increasing evidence that mindfulness & meditation can positively impact our immune system. A recent review looked at 20 randomized control trials examining the effects of mindfulness & meditation on the immune system. In reviewing the research, the authors found that mindfulness meditation:
- Reduced markers of inflammation, high levels of which are often correlated with decreased immune functioning and increased disease.
- Increased number of CD-4 cells, which are the immune system’s helper cells that are involved in sending signals to other cells telling them to destroy infections.
- Increased telomerase activity; telomerase help promote the stability of chromosomes and prevent their deterioration (telomerase deterioration is an indication of reduced health & lifespan).
These studies ultimately need to be rerun and tested with more rigorous methodology. That said the results are promising, and potentially pave the way for using mindfulness-based techniques to boost the immune system, enhancing our defense against infection and disease.
Where do I start?
The short answer is easy. Right here! There are many approaches to meditation and they are all down to your personal taste and what you connect with most easily.
A popular for beginners is a ‘guided meditation’ which can be used to achieve a state of deep relaxation. A speaker, or ‘guide’ provides you with helpful suggestions which take you on a journey that trains you to silence any feelings of self-doubt or worthlessness, relieves the physical manifestation of stress by relaxing your muscles mentally and helps you to drift to sleep peacefully. So great is the variety that you can choose a voice which you find the most calming for you. If you are looking for a mediation designed purely for immune boosting effects check out this guided meditation by Merisa Peer. Guided meditation to boost your immune system.
Another form of meditation which is highly beneficial, is called ‘gratitude mediation’, which you can read more about here. This meditation is all about mindset and training the right mindset every day.
What time of day is best to meditate?
Morning, noon or night. The results are the same. It really comes down to your schedule. That said my preference has always been the morning. That way I get to add Matcha to my practice. Matcha and Meditation go together perfectly. Matcha can amplify the relaxing effects of meditation through a dose of L-theanine which circulates throughout your body and boosts the production of alpha waves – scientifically-proven to generate a powerful sense of calm and relaxation.
As always, the key is to be consistent and make it a part of your daily routine. Just 5 minutes a day is sufficient to receive the benefits of meditation.
Remember, your mindset will determine your direction. Change your mindset and you can change your world!
Here are a few meditations and apps I personally use:
- Insight Timer – Free
- Calm App – Subscription