Stress Reduction For Dummies

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At the end of the 60s, Americans Thomas H. Holmes and Richard H. Rahe created a test to evaluate stress levels called Social Adjustment Scale.

Now, it is your turn to pass this test in order to know your stress level. Read the following list, and sum all the points of the events you suffered along the last year:

  1. Your partner’s death: 100
  2. Divorce: 73
  3. Split: 65
  4. Went to prison: 63
  5. Family death: 63
  6. Accident or sickness: 53
  7. Maritage or starting a relationship: 50
  8. Fired: 47
  9. Get along your partner: 45
  10. Retirement: 45
  11. Health problems of a family member: 44
  12. Increasing weight: 40
  13. Sexual problems: 39
  14. New member in the family: 39
  15. Changing job: 39
  16. Changes in the economic situation: 38
  17. Death of a close friend: 37
  18. Changing profession: 36
  19. Increasing arguments with your partner: 35
  20. Huge mortage: 31
  21. Embargo of mortage or prestamo: 30
  22. Changing occupation at work: 29
  23. A sibling leaves home: 29
  24. Huge personal success: 28
  25. Starting or ending of job of your partner: 26
  26. Starting or ending studies: 26
  27. Change in the life conditions: 25
  28. Change in personal habits: 24
  29. Problems with your boss: 23
  30. Modification of the time or conditions at work: 20
  31. Changing home: 20
  32. Changing college: 20
  33. Changing leissure activities: 19
  34. Changing community activities: 19
  35. Changing social activities: 18
  36. Moderated morgage: 17
  37. Change in sleeping habits: 16
  38. Change in the number of familiar reunions: 15
  39. Modification of eating habits: 15
  40. Holidays or travelling: 13
  41. End of the year holidays: 12
  42. Minor law infraction: 11

 

What was your score?

  • If your total score is below 150 points, your accumulated stress level is moderate. You should start thinking about reducing your stress.
  • If your total score is between 150 and 300 points, you have a high level of stress.
  • If your total score of points is above 300, you have a very high level of stress. You should take action to reduce it immediately.

If you are like most of us, it is very likely that your level of stress is very high. Having a high level of stress produces large amounts of cortisol in the brain, which is one of the causes of dementia and Alzheimer’s. If you maintain high stress levels for a long time, it can become chronic, and hence speed up the decline of cognitive skills.

One technique to reduce stress levels is meditation. Meditation allows to better control emotions and as a result, better resist stress. It also have other benefits like developing your will and increasing concentration.

In what follows I will explain you a basic technique for meditating. After that, you will find a workout to introduce meditation in your daily life easily.

 

BASIC MEDITATION TECHNIQUE
  1. Find a quiet place and disconnect your mobile from receiving calls.
  2. Sit down on a chair, with your column straight. Do not recline your back on the back of the chair.
  3. Let your shoulders lay down. Put your hands over your knees with the palms upside down, and close your eyes.
  4. Breath slowly and deeply with a regular rhythm. Count mentally to 5 with the inspiration, and to 5 with the expiration.
  5. After a minute of doing it, include a little pause in between inspiration and expiration. Maintain for 3 seconds the breath after each inspiration while keeping the previous inspiration-expiration rhythm. Keep doing it for a minute.
  6. Then concentrate in every part of the body and look for tensions on them.
  7. Start from the fingers of the feet, then the feet themselves, then the calfs, the knees…
  8. At every part of your body, look for tensions. If the part is tensioned, relax it.
  9. Some people cannot detect whether a part of his body is tensioned or not. If that is your case, once you are on the body part, tense it on purpose and then relax it. With a little of practise you will soon learn how to identify your tensioned body parts.
  10. Continue finding tensions in your body along your whole body from bottom to top. End with the upper part of your head.
  11. Once you have reached the upper part of your head start concentrating on your breath.
  12. Take an inspiration and think about how the air gets inside your lungs.
  13. Then expire the air and consciously observe with your mind how the air goes out.
  14. Keep your mind thinking on how the air gets in and how the air gets out.
  15. If your mind starts wandering around, consciously realize it, and get back your mind to the breathing.
  16. Finish with a deep breath when your time of meditation is up.

Read the technique several times and understand each of its steps.

For your convenience, I have created an audio file that guides you along the meditation. You can find it below ready to play or download. Listen to this audio file everytime you want to do the meditation and it will help you get the practice.

Now it is time you put the technique into practice.

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Preparation: use a timer to control the meditation time. You can download a special timer for your mobile and keep at the same time some record of your meditation. One example of timer is Insight Timer, which is available for Android, iPhone and iPad, in both free and paid versions. This is the one I use (as you can see if you follow my twits). If you are really interested in meditating, install the program on your phone and join the Insanity Mind group. Joining the group will allow you to meet other people training, follow your progress, ask questions, share thoughts and keep motivated (if you don’t know how to do it, just send me a question to rickt@insanitymind.com).

Once you are ready, practice the workout below.

Basic Meditation Workout

  • Every day set aside some time to meditate. Select a moment of the day to practice your meditation
  • Perform the Basic Meditation for 10 minutes, from Monday to Sunday. During the first week, you can either do it on your own, or follow the guided meditation audio above.
  • After a week of doing it, increase to 11 minutes and practice for another week. Do not use the audio from now on.
  • Continue increasing a minute per week, until you reach 20 minutes per day
  • Maintain 20 minutes per day for a complete month.
  • Then start again increasing a minute per week until you reach 30 minutes per day.
  • Keep meditating 30 minutes per day for the rest of your life.

From now on, meditation should be part of your daily routine, and for a good brain health, you should keep it for the rest of your life.

The real strength of meditation is achieved by doing it everyday. Even small moments of meditation produce good benefits in the brain, but if you want to take the most from it, you should practice every day.

You can see meditation as washing your face. You wash your face every day. Then, the same applies to meditation. Meditation washes your mind from negative thoughts, and that needs to be done daily.

You can meditate at any moment of the day. However there are two moments in the day where the effects maximize. Best moments to meditate are either in the morning after waking up or just before going to bed. On the first situation, you will prepare yourself for the rest of the day. On the second, you would prepare your mind for sleeping properly. However, some people prefer other meditation times according to their life schedule…

Which is your best time to meditate?

Leave a comment and help others decide…

 

photo credit: AlicePopkorn via photopin cc

2 Responses to Stress Reduction For Dummies

  1. Carla 11/08/2015 at 7:10 #

    Hola me descarge el programa Insight Timer y me di cuenta que esta todoen ingles se podra cambiar el idioma? Gracias por la genial pagina

    • Rick T. 11/08/2015 at 20:11 #

      Hola Carla,
      la verdad es que el programa solo esta en Inglés, aunque puedes encontrar alguna meditacion en Español. Tal vez sea una señal para que empieces con ese idioma! Sería un buen reto para tu cerebro!
      He intentado buscar algún otro temporizador en Español pero no lo he conseguido. Alguno de nuestros lectores conoce alguno?

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