How to Calm the Mind: A Meditation and Relaxation GuideBy Elisa - Jenny Craig Reviewed by Monica Ropar, Nutritionist Science-Backed
If you find yourself feeling stressed and anxious rather than relaxed and carefree — it might be time to calm your mind. With everything going on in the world, it can be easy to forget to slow down and press pause. But finding ways to de-stress is an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
How can you calm your mind instantly? Read on to learn simple meditation and physical relaxation techniques you can try right at home. Find a comfortable seat, and get ready to unwind.
What causes stress?
Wondering why you’re feeling frazzled lately? Stress happens when you experience change, according to the Cleveland Clinic.1 Your body might react to stress in different ways: physically, mentally or emotionally.1
Experiencing stress is completely normal, but there are different types of stress.
Acute stress is typically spurred by a single incident, like being stuck in a traffic jam or making a big presentation at work.2 The Mayo Clinic reports that acute stress typically doesn’t cause health issues for healthy individuals, but it might trigger physical symptoms such as a headache or digestive issues.2
Chronic stress is reoccurring, long-term stress.2 It’s when a stressor continues like dealing with financial troubles or grieving the loss of a loved one. Chronic stress can contribute to inflammation throughout the body and lead to various health issues including heart and gut problems.3
Photo by PeopleImages on iStock
How to calm the mind with meditation
Regardless if you’ve been feeling stressed for a while or just a short time, you may benefit from practicing meditation. Meditation can help you learn how to calm your and quiet your thoughts. The more you practice, the more you may feel relaxed. Here are some simple steps to try meditating at home.4
1. Find a quiet, comfortable spot to sit or lie down.
Try to find a place without any distractions so you can focus on your meditation practice. Wear some comfortable clothes and set up some pillows to sit on or rest your head against.
2. Create a peaceful environment.
Set the tone by lighting a candle or playing some relaxing music. Whatever makes you feel relaxed and at ease.
3. Start to focus on your breath.
Gently close your eyes. Slowly, start to take a deep breath in from your belly and exhale out of your mouth. A practice you might want to try is diaphragmatic breathing which focuses on breathing from your belly instead of your chest. This can help deepen your breath and calm your mind instantly.
4. Pay attention to your thoughts, but be kind.
As you focus on your breath, notice any thoughts that might bubble up. Recognize them without judgment, and let them pass. Bring your attention back to your breath if your mind starts to wander. If you have trouble concentrating, try focusing on a mantra on an intention. A mantra can be one simple word or a few words that you repeat to help you focus during meditation.5 For example, you might choose a word like “positivity” to help channel a positive attitude, or you might want to focus on the word “nourish” to focus on how you will nourish your body with healthy foods throughout the day. Come back to this word or phrase if your mind starts to drift.
5. Stay here for as long as you’d like.
If you’re new to meditation, a simple 5-10 minutes of practice might be just what you need to de-stress and calm your mind. The more you practice, the longer you might want to stay in a meditative state. You don’t need to meditate for hours to reap the wellness and relaxation benefits.
6. Complete your practice and notice how you feel.
When you’re ready to end your practice, softly blink your eyes open. Take inventory of your thoughts and how you feel. Do you feel any different from the beginning of your practice? You might want to keep a bullet journal and jot down a few notes so you can notice any changes.
Photo by Elly Fairytale from Pexels
Connecting the body and mind
Another way to decompress is through movement and other physical relaxation techniques. Connecting your mind and body is a powerful way to stay healthy and stress-free. Here are a few ideas to try (they also could help support your weight loss goals!):
This ancient practice can be done at home in your living room or at a nearby park. Integrate meditation into your flow to completely relax and restore your body and mind. This deep-breathing exercise isn’t just good for your mental health, it could also boost your physical health.6 In fact, yoga may help improve your flexibility, increase your muscle strength and even support your weight loss efforts.6 The best part? It’s great for beginner’s and it requires little to no equipment! Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Yoga and start practicing today.
2. Rhythmic exercise
Walking, swimming, dancing and bike riding are all examples of rhythmic exercises.7 Focusing on a repetitive movement can bring a sense of calmness and relaxation to your body. Tap into some of your meditation techniques to reap all of the benefits: Mindfully exercise, paying attention to how your body feels in the present moment.
This self-care practice will do more than relax your muscles: The Mayo Clinic reports massage may be an “effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension.”8 Treating yourself to a massage is also an excellent non-food weight loss reward.
Health benefits of meditation
Beyond helping you to de-stress and gain a sense of calm, mediation might positively affect your health in a variety of ways. The Mayo Clinic reports that although more research is needed to draw definitive conclusions, studies suggest that meditation might help to improve the following:9
- Chronic pain
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Sleep problems
- Tension headaches
While meditation is considered a safe practice for healthy individuals, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that meditation should not be used in place of conventional care.10
Feeling a little bit more relaxed? We hope these tips have helped you learn how to calm the mind and de-stress so you can take the best care of yourself.
If you’re looking for other ways to invest in your health, Jenny Craig can help. Get balanced, ready-to-go meals delivered directly to your doorstep. New plans start at just $12.99 a day. View plans now!
Elisa is a content marketing manager for Jenny Craig with over ten years of experience working in the health and fitness industry. She loves sharing her passion for living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. An endurance sports enthusiast, she is usually swimming in the pool, biking along the coast highway or running by the beach in her free time. Elisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Chico.
Favorite healthy snack: mozzarella string cheese with a Pink Lady apple
Monica Ropar, Nutritionist
Monica has over 15 years of experience with Jenny Craig, as an expert nutrition and program resource. She develops content, training, tools and strategies for the program to support clients throughout their weight loss journey, and offers inspiration, weight loss tips, lifestyle strategies and motivation. Monica holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Dietetics and Exercise, Fitness & Health from Purdue University and continues to stay current on weight management research, consumer trends and healthcare developments.
Favorite healthy snack: raw veggie sticks with homemade hummus
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and reviewed by certified professionals.
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Edited by Elisa - Jenny Craig