In our continuing series, La Jolla Sports Club offers up some ideas on how to deal with the holiday stress. Hint: Meditation.
Our stomachs and livers survived Thanksgiving, but we still have about four weeks until we can hit reset on the year. Black Friday, Aunt Edna, Christmas wishlists, Aunt Edna (again), recitals, rain (which has been a great excuse to break out that fancy coat, finally), every weekday and weekend being booked, etc, etc, etc. This is adding up.
Just breathe (more on that next post).
What is Meditation?
If you’re reading this, you are most likely a member at La Jolla Sports Club, and appreciate the benefits of exercise. Well, think of meditation like exercise for the brain. According to Headspace.com:
Through meditation, we can build up areas of our brain and actually rewire it to enhance positive traits like focus and decision making and diminish the less positive ones like fear and stress. Most importantly, this means there is a possibility to change your brain for the better in a way that is long-lasting.
So in addition to increasing focus and improving relationships and sleep, meditation can also help improve stress. But, you ask, how do I do it? Headspace again has an answer for you: Meditation is about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. For their meditation 101, click here. And for La Jolla Sports Club meditation classes with our very own Bram Wiley, click here (yoga is also incredibly helpful).
For most of us, we’re pretty clued in to how stress affects our brains and moods. But what about our bodies? Excessive stress can lead to an increase in epinephrine and cortisol, which can then increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, in addition to increasing our blood sugar levels, blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol. In fact, just reading that last sentence may be causing you stress, in which case, meditation might be perfect for you.
When our bodies are perpetually stressed (which is becoming more and more regular as our jobs and phones don’t allow us to ‘turn off’), we enter a consistent state of fight-or-flight, which disrupts our immune system, energy and sleep. Not ideal. Check out Headspace.com’s page on stress for a ton of great info.
How Meditation Can Help
Meditation can help you become a more objective observer of your own stress and allow you to reframe your response. According to Precision Nutrition, what we think and feel is the same to our brains as what we experience. So if we believe it to be real, our body treats it as such. This helps explain the negative pattern a lot of us find ourselves in. Believing ‘I’m having a bad day,’ helps create that bad day, but… The opposite also works! Reframing your story to ‘I’m having a good day,’ even in the face of annoyances will help change your mindset. It’s a pretty incredible tool and if you don’t believe us, try it out. Like, right now.
See? Pretty cool. And that’s without even meditating. Add in that habit (start small, a minute or two every morning for two weeks) and your ability to reframe a bad mood / day, will get better and better. Just like that barbell squat we saw you overcome.
If you have any meditation questions and you see Bram walking around La Jolla Sports Club, just ask! You’ll get some good info, a smile and very possibly, a big hug.
OK, that’s it for us today. Check back for the next post on breathing to help beat holiday stress.
Until then, reframe Aunt Edna’s comments into a positive and stay safe and sane!
// Your friends at La Jolla Sports Club