Meditation is an excellent way of coping with stress. It is a unique skill, which is incredibly simple, cheap and manageable to do, and yet impacts every aspect of life. Just as going to the gym to work on your physical fitness, meditation gets easier and more powerful with practice.
Meditating, even for just ten minutes a day, increases the blood flow to the parts of the brain that are responsible for feelings of happiness and emotional stability, effectively increasing the health and wellbeing of your brain.
Research at Harvard University show that meditation increases the blood flow to the cortex region of the brain, which is associated with feelings of happiness and wellbeing and they are looking at ways to use it to treat people who suffer from anxiety, depression and compulsive or addictive behaviours. However, for many people it is about simply about being able to get a good night’s rest!
How to meditate at home
- Create a space where you’re not going to be distracted: remove the TV, the phone and computers from the area. Sit on a cushion.
- Take a few minutes to wind down, assume a good posture — legs loosely crossed, back straight, relax your shoulder muscles, tuck your chin in and keeping your eyes open, gaze on something that isn’t visually chaotic in a ‘loose and unfocused’ way.
- Fully concentrate on, and feel the full sensation of, breathing. Throw out any thoughts that enter your head, whether good or bad, as the sole object of attention should be our breath.
- Start with a ten-minute session and increase with practice.
Mindset & attitude
Positive thought and emotions boost the immune system whilst negative ones do the reverse and it is well documented that the chances of survival and speed of recovery are greatly enhanced if assisted by a sense of purpose and a positive approach
Various tests have been done which show that chemotherapy and radiation treatment has better success rates if the patient has a positive frame of mind
I am an optimist and positive thinking comes naturally for me but I know how difficult it is to remain positive if you are in pain or feeling depressed.
I also find the repetitiveness and the dullness of some of the routines demoralising so I make them easier by turning them into a game or a challenge. i.e. improving the speed in which I complete them and reward myself if I beat the existing time.
Laughter is known to aid recovery and it is very fast acting and fun to do
It has the following benefits
- Lowers blood pressure
- Increases vascular blood flow and oxygenation of the blood
- Gives a workout to the diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg, and back muscles
- Reduces certain stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline
- Increases the response of tumour (and disease) killing cells such as gamma-interferon and T-cells
- Defends against respiratory infections–even reducing the frequency of colds
- Increases memory and learning
- Improves alertness, creativity, and memory
Boredom manifests negative thoughts so you will need to think of ways of breaking the monotony and making days more interesting and fun. Do some of the things you like doing or have wanted to do. To find out to develop new skills, I search for them in You tube.
Personally, I formed a to-do list of tasks I wanted to complete
- improvement to our home
- sorting out our financial matters
- compile family mementos – listing and updating photographs and working on the family tree
- creating a list of friends to make contact with or visit
- putting my music collection in order
- I also have several hobbies, which keep me occupied. Music, reading, films, walking
Get more ideas for hobbies use a search engine like google and type in’ list of hobbies’
Although it is a basic human instinct to want to live, an individual’s approach to death is influenced by the amount of meaning and purpose they have found throughout their lifetime.
People who feel they understand their purpose in life or find a special meaning, face less fear and despair in the final weeks of their lives than those who had not.
There is evidence that people with a higher level of spiritualisation; meditation or praying to a deity, live longer and enjoy a healthier life.
Many people faced with this situation have attempted to record their emotions and thoughts when pronounced terminally ill. Philip Gould died of cancer in 2011 and found comfort in selecting his final resting place and took time planning and visiting it beforehand. It became a special place and gave him a lot of comfort knowing where he would spend eternity. In his book ‘When I die: lessons from the Dead Zone’ he looks at death in a very pragmatic way and you may find it helpful. All proceeds going to Cancer charities
Many people believe that stress is an acceptable and important motivator in our lives which gives us that enjoyable ‘adrenaline drive’. However, prolonged periods of stress can cause our bodies long term problems including a boost of unwanted acidity.
Learning to manage stress is important in maintaining a positive physical, emotional, and spiritual outlook on life.
Your devastating news can be massively stressful for everyone around you too.
When my 21-year-old daughter went a bit wobbly on learning the news and struggled with her exams, she was supported magnificently by the university’s Extenuating Circumstances Board and although my wife bravely faced the daily challenges, she benefitted enormously from the Macmillan Trust’s counsellors.
Prolonged stress can also lead to frustration, anger, hopelessness and depression, so as soon as you feel less able to cope, it is most important that you seek help.
Tips on managing stress
- Don’t rely on alcohol or drugs to reduce stress
- Keep positive - ‘always look on the bright side of life’
- Accept that there are events you cannot control.
- Be assertive instead of aggressive. “Assert” your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, combative, or passive.
- Talk to others or a GP about how you are feeling
- Learn to relax – (see example below)
- Exercise regularly. Your body can fight stress better when you are physically fit.
- Have a healthy diet
- Rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
- Find reasons to feel happy – create a diary of forthcoming events to look forward to and which will bring you happiness. E.g. birthdays, family and friends visits, focus on matters outside your current situation.
Positive lifestyle changes will enhance your wellbeing, be generally uplifting and reduce stress by creating a sense of regaining control of your situation
A two minute relaxation exercise
- Find a comfortable position in a quite place
- Think of something pleasant for a few seconds and block out your worries and troubling thoughts.
- Concentrate on your breathing and take a few deep breathes, exhaling slowly and feeling more relaxed with each breath
- Mentally scan your body and loosen up areas that feel tense or cramped, letting go of as much tension as you can
- Rotate your head in a smooth, circular motion once or twice (if any movement causes pain, stop immediately).
- Roll your shoulders forward and backward several times. Let all your muscles completely relax.