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What Is Stress Costing You?
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. To recognize this important topic, Matt Cardone, corporate wellness professional and author, gives us insight on mental health and how to manage stress through meditation and mindfulness.
Article by: Matt Cardone
The world around us has changed, and with that, there has been an unprecedented increase in the amount of mental health cases. As a society, we are feeling the stress, and studies have shown that cases are on the rise day after day. Although people are being pushed to practice self-care and seek help if they need it, at the end of the day, it all boils down to how committed you are to keeping your mind clean. That’s why it’s necessary to spare time to sit with your thoughts and actively eliminate those that are bogging you down; find out where your negative feelings stem from and nip them in the bud. Meditation, as a practice, is all about reprogramming the mind and teaching it to let go of things that do not matter at the end of the day. It allows you to look at the larger picture of life and shift focus to the things worth thinking about. This, in turn, leads to better time management and decision-making. Now the question to ask yourself is, what is stress costing you? Stress can be this catch-all phrase that can often be used flippantly, “My boss stresses me out” or “my kids are stressing me out.” When we bring it back to the basic understanding by breaking down the definition, we can become clearer on the subject. Stress is an abnormality or strain at the structural or material level. Indicating that we store stresses directly in the body. Anytime we are unable to adapt to a demand in a real-time circumstance, we incur stress, and it gets stored in the body as data. Chronic stress
is never thrilling and never exciting. It eats away at you every day, year after year, and it can be tremendously destructive. Chronic stress occurs when a person is in a repetitively stressful environment and cannot adapt to the demands at that time.
Enter Rest. Rest is the antidote to stress. It is the body’s natural way of repairing, releasing, and restoring order in the nervous system. 1 in 3 Americans are not sleeping effectively and efficiently the way the body was designed to sleep (CDC website). Essentially, we are walking, talking pressure cookers of stress with no release outlet. Studies indicate that mental techniques of meditation provide rest that is up to 5x deeper, minute for minute, than in our deepest states of sleep. Now to fully understand the mechanics of how this works, let us break down the two major components, the mind, and the body. Studies indicate that the human mind has between 50,000-70,000 thoughts every single day, and in fact, around 90% of those are recurring or repetitive thoughts that we ruminate on over and over again. Now the nature of the mind is to think, and it works on the principle of traction. It is always either being attracted to something or distracted. The mind is attracted to certain mates you may choose, books you like to read, or the type of movies you enjoy. Distraction is the same but opposite, but either way, it’s traction. In meditation, the mind moves naturally with this traction and creates a unique connection with the body. We call this psychosomatic. In relation to the physical, think of a time when you were getting ready for a first date or job interview, and maybe you noticed a lot of activity in the body (i.e., cracking knuckles or biting fingernails). Busy mind, busy body. Anxious mind, anxious body. The body is a direct printout of the mind.
Now, in meditation, it works the same but opposite. This technique brings the mind from the busy surface down to more quiet, subtle layers of thinking. As the mind quiets and settles, the body follows suit and now can achieve a profound state of deep healing rest. This will begin to release the stresses stored in the body, almost like closing out hundreds of open tabs on the computer. This activity brings the body back up to the busy surface and, along with it, the mind. Now the mind is doing the best that it knows how to, as it labels thoughts. That is why thoughts are good in meditation because it’s evidence of stress being released from the nervous system. What you do with those thoughts is what I teach on a much deeper level when working with students in any of my programs.
Learn more about Matt and his meditation practice at MattCardoneMeditation.com.
Matt Cardone was a division 1 athlete from the University of Delaware and earned his bachelor degrees in social psychology and criminal justice. In his role as a corporate wellness professional, Matt has partnered with sportswear companies, coaching executives and professional athletes in mindset and meditation practices.