Complete Natural Health Care

Meditation: Why It’s Vital Right Now 

Tense muscles. Obsessing about the news. Anxiety about the future. Difficulty sleeping. Do all of these sound familiar? You’re definitely not alone. There’s no doubt that we are living with a lot of uncertainty right now.

How can we cope? 

Doing Nothing To Cope With Everything

The answer might be as simple as doing…. nothing. Simply sitting still and mindfully clearing your thoughts through meditation has an astounding number of benefits that are vital right at this point in history. 

In fact, fostering an ongoing meditation practice can change the structure of your brain, providing benefits that continue when you have finished meditating.

In short, meditation may be one of the best things you can do for yourself in troubled times.

The Benefits Of Meditation

Some of the many positive things that can happen when you meditate include:

Lower Blood Pressure

Meditation can decrease the “flight or fight” hormones in your body. As a result of this relaxation response, your blood vessels open up, which in turn improves your blood pressure.

Less Stress-Induced Inflammation

Excess cortisol, one of the central stress hormones, can lead to inflammation in many parts of the body – a common example of this is the gut, with digestive issues being common during times of high stress. Because meditation can lower the amount of cortisol you produce, inflammation is reduced.

Embracing Uncertainty

Despite all of the health benefits, the ultimate goal of meditation isn’t necessarily focused on physical results. It’s more a process of learning to embrace uncertainty.

A More Positive Outlook

Who doesn’t need a more positive outlook right now? Meditation has been found to actually alter (in a good way) the parts of your brain responsible for positive thoughts. As well, by becoming more aware of your thoughts, you can fend off negativity.

Reduced Anxiety And Fewer Obsessive Thoughts

It’s perfectly normal to be experiencing anxiety and obsessive thoughts when faced with a pandemic. However, those thoughts can spiral out of control and negatively affect family members as well as your health. High cortisol levels even lower your immune response, and we all want a strong immune system right now.

How Does Meditation Help With Negative Thoughts?

It can be difficult to imagine gaining control over the thought train when world events, and the changes to our daily lives, seem so overwhelming.

However, meditation teaches us how to experience and sit with those thoughts – without panicking or feeling like we need to repress them. With a little practice, you should be able to just sit with your thoughts and feelings, without judgement or analysis, and start to process them without spiralling out of control. You can be present in the moment without projecting into the future or ruminating on the past.

And right now, faced with so many unknowns, that’s particularly important.

Why Start Now?

You might feel that now is not a good time to start meditation. After all, you’re likely stuck at home and perhaps feel antsy and confined. Who wants to sit still? However, mediation has proven to be an effective mental health treatment and right now we need to be focusing  not just on our healthy body but also…a healthy mind.

How To Start Meditating

Many people find the thought of taking up meditation a bit intimidating. After all, it has had an esoteric reputation through the ages. It’s important to know that you don’t have to “master” meditation. It’s OK to be imperfect. Your mind will probably wander, and you may feel uncomfortable at first. That’s perfectly normal.

Setting Up Your Practice

The good news is that it’s surprisingly simple to get started. In basic terms, you just need to:

●      Find a comfortable place. Ideally, it will be quiet.

●      Sit in a natural position.

●      Breathe normally.

●      Focus on your breath.

Try not to overthink this: just focus on each exhalation and inhalation. It’s not necessary to force anything.

●      If your mind wanders:

(And since you’re human, there’s a good chance that it will) try to sit back and “observe” your thoughts. Don’t analyze them. And don’t scold yourself for losing focus. It’s all part of the process. They are just passing through your brain.

How Long Should You Meditate?

You may have heard of people going on week-long meditation retreats. That’s great – but it’s not really necessary. Just a few minutes a day is a good start. In fact, studies have found that just five minutes can have significant benefits.

And who doesn’t have five extra minutes?

How Often Should You Meditate?

Consistency is a key component of a successful meditation practice. Try to carve out a few minutes a day to dedicate to your mental health. Some people find that it helps to make it the same time every day.

Resources To Get Your Meditation Practice Started

There are quite a few wonderful resources available to help you get started with meditation should you need a little help – here are a few of our favourites:

Headspace

Calm

Wherever You Go, There You Are

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics

There are many reasons to start meditation. Why not start now? Let us know how you get on – and remember that we are here to support your health and wellness.

 

 

 

Resources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25390009

https://www.npr.org/2008/08/21/93796200/to-lower-blood-pressure-open-up-and-say-om

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159112004758

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159112004758

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5946075_Relationships_between_mindfulness_practice_and_levels_of_mindfulness_medical_and_psychological_symptoms_and_well-being_in_a_mindfulness-based_stress_reduction_program

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0306624X19856232

https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Effects-of-Five-Minute-Mindfulness-Meditation-on-Lam-Sterling/7a7529a9e6401679016ab78f398eaaf4487aff84

https://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/2003/07000/Alterations_in_Brain_

and_Immune_Function_Produced.14.aspx

 

 

Top Tips to Enhance Your Lung Function

 

It’s hard not to think about our lungs and how we can keep them healthy amidst all the uncertainty of this pandemic. Seeing our economies shut down and a global health crisis is something almost none of us have had to contend with at this level in our lives.

Best Practices For Lung Health

Understanding what you can do to help your lungs function at their best will help you in more ways than one so we are sharing some top tips you can do at home.

1. Practice Deep Breathing

Did you know that we normally only use about 50 percent of our lung capacity? Increasing the involvement of your entire lungs can help keep them healthy.

How Breath Works

Let’s take a moment to really examine how our breath works – and how we can improve it. When you take a deep breath, your diaphragm, muscles and lungs work in harmony to draw in oxygen. When you exhale, you expel carbon dioxide. You’ve probably noticed that taking deeper breaths has a different effect on your body than taking short, shallow breaths. You may also notice that stress tends to make your breathing more shallow and that taking deep breaths can be relaxing.

Involve The Whole Lung

Deeper breaths require greater involvement from more parts of your lungs. That means that the lower sections (where mucus can tend to collect) are activated and mucus is dislodged. Deep breathing has shown to be an effective way to support good lung function for patients with asthma and other respiratory disorders.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

What exactly does deep breathing mean? Try paying attention to the role your diaphragm plays as you inhale and exhale. It might help if you place a hand on your rib cage or at the top of your belly.  You should feel your diaphragm rise as you inhale, and lower as you exhale. That simple awareness can help you to consciously expand your lungs.

Maintaining good posture with a straight spine will also help you do this – you want to give your ribs space to expand. As well, count slowly with each breath. It should take just as long to exhale as it does to inhale. 

As an added bonus, this breathing exercise can help you to relax – and we all need more of that right now. Deep breathing can lower the production of stress hormones such as cortisol.

2. Exercise

Moving your body requires effort, oxygen and therefore deeper breaths, which can improve your lung capacity as well as supporting your physical health. Do whatever exercise feels good to you while, of course, ensuring that you are still practising appropriate social distancing.

Interval Training For Lung Health

Some evidence suggests that interval training can be a particularly good way to boost lung function, because alternating periods of exercise with periods of rest can help your lungs recover from the exertion as you continue to work out. As always, listen to your body.

3. Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water can help thin the mucus in your lungs. As well, proper hydration is necessary for maintaining good health overall so it should always be a priority.

4. Breathe Through Your Nose 

Protect Your Lungs From Particles

Those little hairs in your nostrils are there for a reason, they act as filters to keep the air you breathe clean, and they warm the air to minimize the shock to your lungs on a cold day. Breathing through your nose provides a buffer which helps to reduce the amount of extra “cleaning” work your lungs need to carry out.

5. Laugh More

Yes, it seems simple, but laughing truly is a great exercise to work the abdominal muscles, increase lung capacity and oxygenate the blood. And let’s face it…comedy moments are the best exercise ever!

6. Clean Cleaning

You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating. If you’re not sure which products you should be using to clean your home, focus on not adding toxins into your environment but rather seeking out healthy cleaning supplies.

Natural Cleaning Products

Baking soda, vinegar and water have always been a tried and true cleaner, and there are plenty of more eco-friendly cleaning products available which use essential oils and natural ingredients. As much as possible, eliminate aerosol sprays and synthetic air fresheners which can be particularly irritating to the lungs.

7. Fresh Air Indoors

As the weather warms up, remember to open up your windows and let the fresh air in. If you live in an area that is busy with traffic, try waiting until night time to freshen up your house. Indoor air filters are another way to ensure the air quality in your home is optimal.

8. If You Smoke, Stop

Having healthy lung function is always important, but now more than ever we need to make sure our lungs and lung capacity are working at peak levels. Research shows that your lung function can start to improve as early as 2 weeks after quitting smoking.

We are living with a lot of uncertainty right now. Taking proactive steps to optimize your health is important and there are many things you can do to help improve your body’s resilience.

Wellness is achieved when the body is able to protect itself against imbalances, breakdowns, and foreign invaders. The human body has evolved powerful defense systems that help it to maintain optimal physical, mental and emotional states. Our lifestyle, past and current health issues as well as our ability to manage stress and trauma all play a role in our state of health.

Supporting our body’s innate ability to heal is not a short term solution to a problem but rather a daily plan to stay strong and resilient.

If you are looking for help to get your health optimized and work towards your unique version of resilience and wellbeing, give us a call. Xxx-xxxx we are here to help you.

 

 

References

Breathing study on adults with asthma:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32212422

Diaphragm breathing and stress: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5455070/

Benefits of deep breathing exercises: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24937500

Hydration and pulmonary problems: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14681718/

Exercise and coronavirus: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200331162314.htm

Smoking and COVID-19. https://www.livescience.com/coronavirus-covid-19-risk-and-smoking.html

Effects of quitting smoking

https://www.cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/benefits-of-quitting-smoking-over-time.html