11/02/2012 07:44 am ET Updated Jan 02, 2013

4 Simple Ways to Reduce Stress


Our minds tend to spin into different emotional states throughout the day. For thousands of years, Eastern traditions have recognized how the mind goes from extreme states of joy to extreme states of sadness and worry. Monks from Eastern traditions were essentially scientists; they recognized that a wild mind could adversely affect our health. So they used meditation as a way to stay in balance throughout the day.

One thing we know for sure is that stress can be extremely damaging to our health. According to Dr. Herbert Benson, a specialist in mind and body, about 60-90 percent of all physician visits are stress-related.

The goal is not only to monitor your breathing but also monitor your feelings. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the one thing you are told about health care prevention is to monitor your feelings, because negative feelings can help cause your body to become unbalanced, leading to various health problems.

Right when you feel a stress response, bring your awareness to your breathing. You can meditate everywhere and anywhere; meditation is not just for sitting down on a cushion.

In the Eastern health care traditions, Doctors would do just a few minutes of meditation before they saw a patient so they had a clear mind when tending to a patient. This is something we should incorporate into our workplaces. Imagine if you just did two minutes of meditation right before you saw your next client.

How to meditate

You can meditate sitting down in a chair, when you're walking, laying down, etc. There are several various ways to do meditation. Just bring your attention to your breathing. If your mind is anxious just continue to bring you attention back to the breath.

Here are four methods to use meditation to reduce stress:

1. Go out into nature.

Go out for a walk in nature; this can be very meditative for people. You can do walking meditation with your eyes open by just bringing your attention to your breathing. Meditating in nature can help you realign with your body.

2. Help prevent stress by meditating in the morning.

You can help prevent a lot of future stress responses throughout your day by doing meditation right when you wake up. Make a commitment to do five to 10 minutes of meditation every morning. You will have a lot less stress in your life.

3. Be aware of the stress feelings in your body.

A lot of our day-to-day activities remove our attention away from the feelings in our body. Learn to recognize when you're getting stressed out. When you feel you're getting stressed stop what you are doing and do some meditation.

4. Do meditation during your lunch break.

If you do five to 15 minutes of meditation during your lunch break every day, you may see almost immediate results. Set a reminder on your calendar or in your phone to stop and do meditation right before you eat lunch.

For more by Robert Piper, click here.

For more on meditation, click here.

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