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At Naturally Nice Nutrition we work holistically and assess many areas of your life to look at what areas may be unbalanced. By healing yourself holistically, all areas of health and well being work together to create an internal balance making you feel happier and healthier. It is important to maintain a healthy balance between your mind, body, and soul by nurturing your whole self, including your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs.
One area that gets overlooked and has the potential to help you relieve stress, improve health and find purpose in your life is spiritual health. Spiritual Health can help you on many levels leading to better physical, mental and emotional health. Spiritual health includes practices like meditation, mindfulness and yoga.
Taking time out of our busy lives to consciously relax and rest the mind, helps to create both clearer thoughts and a feeling of physical well-being. For the past several decades, the world has seen a huge growth, and curiosity in mind-body interventions such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. After practising such disciplines, it doesn’t take long for us to feel physically stronger and experience increased mental clarity.
Meditation is a practice that gives you balance physically, emotionally and mentally. Today, people are using meditation to treat anxiety, stress, and depression. The “deep rest” meditation provides for the mind helps to dissolve stress and enables you to make better choices through clearer thinking. Those who meditate regularly report higher levels of self-esteem and a greater feeling of well - being. Meditation and mindfulness are both tools to help you stay calm and relaxed. Being relaxed is vital to health, part of the reason disease and illness creeps in is that we live our lives feeling stressed, pressured and anxious which leads to ill health. Learning to incorporate the two together in our lives can lead to a healthier, happier and more content way of living.
Research has shown that sustained practice of meditation leads to something called neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to change, structurally and functionally. The benefits of Meditation have been well researched and tested in clinical settings. Evidence proves that repetitive mindfulness and meditation practice can change the neural pathways and connections in your brain. It has been found that meditation can help to create new ways of thinking, helping to reduce negative thought patterns.
The mind is an amazing tool but without rest from the daily mental arithmetic and constant thinking both consciously and sub – consciously, it will begin to tire and error. We can’t expect our brains to be continuously working all day either thinking, worrying or solving problems without relaxing. Meditation is an effective way for the brain to relax. Like the body needs to relax after a hard day’s work, the brain also needs to rest and relax. Many people have found that initially they find it hard to meditate and many often give up feeling like they are unable to shut off the mental chatter of the mind. This is common and with help and practice meditation becomes easier. As with anything we do the more we do it the better we become at it. There are many styles and initially when starting out some people find it easier to use a guided meditation or music to help them quiet the mind.
Mindfulness and meditation work very well together to promote a calm and stress-free way of being. Together the mind and body through breathing and control of thought, can together help you stay calm and focused By practising breathing and being present in the moment each day we can make a positive impact on our lives and health in just a few months. Mindfulness is when you focus your mind fully on what you are doing in the present moment, it is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. You can learn to observe your thoughts without judgement and without attaching emotions to them.
It helps us to see our thoughts and feelings as they really are. Often our thoughts run away with themselves and this can lead to negative self-talk. When presented with a potential stressful situation, a thought process is triggered, for example, a simple thing such as traffic and being late can trigger a state of arousal but this is not an emergency situation. However, this can trigger a whole load of negative, anxiety provoking thoughts and trigger the autonomic nervous system. The body and mind can form habits in their response patterns, so we need to be able to control our mind and thoughts before the habitual arousal states are triggered. If we can pause and think, tell ourselves to breath and tell ourselves it is not a major emergency or a reason to get stressed!!! This behaviour when practised becomes the new habit and a new state of calmness begins to take the place of the anxiety and stress state.
Reducing stress is vital, stress is a major cause of ill health. Many people are living in a constant state of arousal triggered by daily anxieties, mainly caused by the mind and its runaway thoughts. When the body is in a stressed state it causes physiological changes on a cellular level. The body’s natural steroids are released every time we are aroused and stressed to keep us in a fight or flight mode. These steroids although helpful in true stressful situations lower the immune system, therefore leaving you at risk for hours afterwards. It is said that one minute of anger can weaken the immune system for 4-5 hours.
How it works...
One of the main components of meditation is breathing. Breathing is something we do every day without thinking . A simple thing such as breathing correctly can change the way we react to stress, keep us calm and focused. Calm deep breathing can transform a situation, alter our thoughts and stop the build – up of internal distress on the body therefore, reducing anxiety and illness.
Learning to breath properly is vital and many people do not actually breath properly. Taking bigger breaths in through the nose, deep down in the diaphragm, ensuring your stomach expands (and not breathing in so you look thinner) is the correct way to take air into the body. Understanding how breathing affects the nervous system will increase your ability to consciously relax at will.
There are two parts of the nervous system that meditation, mindfulness and breathing have effects on which help you to handle stress and stay healthier. The autonomic and somatic, both are part of the peripheral nervous system which is found all over the body and is connected to the muscles. Taking deep breaths can have positive effects on the muscles, helping them to relax therefore stopping them from being contracted and tense which causes aches and pains all over the body.
The autonomic nervous system regulates the heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, energy and temperature. This system sets the balance between relaxation and excitation required to meet our environmental demands. It also sets the balance for behaviour, such as finding food when hungry, reproduction and in short lived emergencies. This is the part of the nervous system that prepares the body for the fight or flight response when there is a potential stressful situation. The breathing becomes shallow, heartbeat increases, digestive system shuts down in order for all the blood to be taken to the legs to prepare to run or fight.
When you use calm breathing techniques alike the ones used in meditation it kicks starts the somatic nervous system, which has the opposite effect and slows everything down, calming down the body. The heart and breathing rate will return to normal and the body will calm down. Both these systems cannot work at the same time therefore, in if we trigger the somatic system by using breathing techniques it will stop the autonomic system and the build- up to a state of stress and arousal.