Welcome to 2018! It’s a new year and a chance to make changes in your life that can have a lasting positive impact on your body, mind, and soul. If you are like a majority of Americans, you’ll be making a resolution regarding your health. It’s the most popular subject for New Year’s Resolutions, with many people wanting to lose weight or get in shape. Your physical health is important to your well-being, so it’s great if you are motivated to live a healthier lifestyle. But you shouldn’t neglect your mental health, either. Taking care of your mental health could be key to achieving your goals for this year, no matter what they might be.

But what are the best ways to care for your mental well-being? One of the top tips from our integrative medicine team in Lake Charles is to start meditating. Integrating meditation into your daily routine in 2018 could create a huge positive impact on your life, and if you aren’t already doing it, the new year is a perfect time to get started.

10 Reasons Why You Should be Meditating Daily

There are so many amazing benefits of meditation! Meditating on a daily basis can do a lot for your well-being, including:

  • Lowering your stress levels. Taking some time out of your busy day to quiet your mind and focus on positive thinking will leave you feeling de-stressed, but there are long-term impacts to the practice as well. There is evidence that meditation can help combat depression and anxiety along with lowering your stress levels.
  • Giving you the ability to manage emotions. Mastering meditation means learning to quiet your mind and block out distracting thoughts. Practicing this daily can help you continue using those powers in your daily life, giving you more control over your emotions.
  • Helps you focus and concentrate. We’re living in a world of distractions and it’s harder than ever to concentrate on what’s happening in right of us. But meditation retrains our brains to focus on the here and now, something we can use throughout our days.
  • Helps you become aware of yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the world around you and forget to connect with yourself. Meditation reconnects you to your own body and mind, helping you be in tune with yourself. That awareness is important to your physical and mental well-being.
  • Getting better sleep at night. If you are struggling to get enough sleep, meditation could be the answer. Quieting your mind during the day can help you do the same thing at night, so anxiety and nagging thoughts are working to keep you awake.
  • Feeling happier. People who practice daily meditation report feeling happier and more at peace. Maybe it’s the act of sitting quietly in our hectic world or connecting back to the self that brings the feelings of happiness; whatever does it, meditators enjoy it.
  • Increasing the power of your body’s immune system. It’s true! Your body’s immune system could actually work more efficiently if you practice daily meditation. That’s because increased stress levels hurt your immune response, so lowering stress through meditation could help you combat illnesses.
  • Helps you lose weight. Meditation helps you lose excess weight a few different ways. First, lowering your stress levels. Second, increasing your desire to live a healthy lifestyle. And third, helps you sleep better at night so you have more energy during the day.
  • Increasing your positive thinking. The power of positive thinking should be its own article! Suffice it to say here that positive thinking has a huge impact on your life, so training your brain to focus on the positives can make a big difference in your overall quality of life.
  • Helps you feel more connected to the people around you. Meditation is about connecting to yourself, but it has the added benefit of being able to connect with those around you on a deeper, more meaningful level. You’ll be able to set aside distractions and focus on the people you love, giving you a chance to powerfully connect with them in a new way.

For more fascinating information on the way that meditation can actually change your brain (and your life!), check out this article published on Forbes.com in 2015 called “7 Ways Meditation Can Actually Change the Brain.”

How to Integrate Meditation Into Your Daily Life

There are many different types of meditation out there, including walking meditations, breathing meditations, and techniques named after the gurus who teach them. You may find that one type of meditation works best for you; feel free to experiment with the various types in order to find the one you like the best. In general, meditation is the practice of focusing on something to the exclusion of everything else, and in particular any distracting thoughts. It’s like a workout for your concentration, focus, and willpower. In it’s most basic form and the practice that people most often employ, you’ll focus on your breathing. If any other thoughts try to intrude, you’ll acknowledge them and then set them aside. When your mind wanders from your breath, you’ll gently refocus it.

If you’d like to see what meditation can do in your life, here are some tips to help you get started with this powerful practice.

Start in small increments.

You are probably going to find that meditation is something that you have to practice a lot before you are able to do it for any length of time. That’s okay! It’s better to practice a little bit on a daily basis than to do a lot on one day of the week. So start small and work your way up to longer periods of time. Start with five minutes (you might be surprised to find even this short amount of time is challenging in the beginning) and work your way up from there.

Do it at the same time every day.

Making meditation a habit will be a lot easier if it becomes part of your daily routine. Find a time that’s easy for you to set aside and dedicate it every day to meditation. Don’t skip a day and aim to meditate every day for a month and see how it’s impacting your life. Many people find that meditating when they first get up is helpful to set the tone for their day, while others prefer to do it in the afternoon when their stress levels are at their highest.

Get comfortable and into position.

Meditate in a comfortable place and wear comfortable clothing while doing so. You might find taking off your shoes or loosening your belt helps. Wherever you meditate, do so while maintaining good posture. Sitting up on a small pillow can be helpful for this.

Be gentle with yourself.

When you first start meditating, your mind is going to wonder. Don’t beat yourself up about it! Be gentle with yourself. When your mind wanders, gently bring it back to focus. If persistent thoughts intrude, acknowledge them and then set them aside. It may help you to actually visualize yourself setting aside those thoughts or putting them into a box. You can always come back to them later.

Count it out.

If you are having a lot of trouble with concentration, count your breaths. Count one as you breathe in and out, two as you breathe in and out, etc. Counting is an easy way to focus your attention on your breath and help you concentrate. Eventually, you’ll be able to focus on it without counting at all.

If 2018 is the year you take charge of your health, Infinite Health is excited to partner with you on this journey. Make an appointment with our team to learn more about our Four Pillars Approach™ to your wellbeing and how it can help you move towards the goals you have for the coming year. You can make an appointment by giving us a call or contacting us through our website.