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How Meditation Improves Stress levels, Creative Thinking, Energy, and Success

How Meditation Improves Stress levels, Creative Thinking, Energy, and Success

Meditation has long been recommended to help with various issues that are just a part of life—or so you thought. Now is the time to listen to this advice and start practicing your meditation. It is just one simple task that can take as little as 30 minutes a day and can have lasting benefits when done regularly. It is about more than just clearing your mind—when the mind is cleared, it affects other physiological aspects of the body, leading to an overall healthier lifestyle along with lower health risks.

Meditation is best used when supplemented with medical intervention for more serious health problems. That being said, it will never hurt your health to practice meditation to cleanse your mind.

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Reduce Stress Levels

Chronic stress raises the blood pressure and leads to the constriction of blood vessels, depression, and even addiction. When the mind becomes calm during meditation, you become focused on your breathing and relaxation—which leads to a reduced feeling of stress. Controlled, deep breathing allows the body to produce higher levels of nitric oxide. This compound helps to open constricted blood vessels and will reduce blood pressure.

Decrease Muscle Tension

When you draw attention to varied areas of the body through controlled breathing, the mind will aid the muscles in relaxing. The technique known as Progressive Muscle Relaxation can be used at the start of a meditation session to tense and relax muscles throughout the body with mindfulness and purpose.

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Improve Heart Health

Individuals who meditate throughout the day will experience a reduction in the thickness of their artery walls—those who do not meditate do not experience this reduced thickness. This reduction of thickness translates to a lower risk of stroke and heart attack.

Up Your Emotional Wellbeing

Meditation can reduce the gray matter density in some areas of the brain that are related to stress and anxiety. Those who practice a specific type of meditation are less likely to get stuck on any one negative stimulus. Meditation will also decrease your levels of worry and improve three areas of compassion—compassion for others, receiving compassion from others, and compassion for one’s self.

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Enhance Immunity

Individuals that practice yoga and meditation experience an improvement in their mitochondrial energy production, resilience, and consumption. This process leads to a boost in the immune system as well as an overall resilience to stress. The health benefits of meditation include much more than just a clear mind.

Foster Creativity

“Open monitoring” meditation has positive effects for creativity and diverging thinking. This specific type of meditation consists of monitoring, but not reacting to, the content of the experience through each moment. Those who did this type of meditation seemed to perform better at tasks in which they were asked to come up with new ideas in a creative manner.

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Improve Positive Relationships and Empathy

Loving-kindness meditation helps the individual focus on developing a sense of love and care toward every being. One study has shown that practicing this type of meditation allows for the individual to better empathize with others through reading their facial expressions. Building up these positive emotions through compassion will help to increase personal resources, like a loving attitude toward one’s own self, a loving attitude toward others, social support, and self-acceptance.

Reduce Social Isolation

Loving-kindness meditation will increase the feelings of social connectedness as well as a positive attitude toward new people—both explicitly and implicitly. This type of meditation is easily implemented and can help to reduce social isolation and increase a variety of positive social emotions.

Reduce Risk of Stroke and Heart Disease

Meditation has the ability to significantly reduce the risk of mortality, stroke, and myocardial infarction in those with heart disease. This is because meditation lowers the blood pressure and changes other psychosocial stress factors. Along with this, it will reduce the risk of depression, premature death, and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Featured photo credit: VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com

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Sasha Brown

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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