I have a confession to make: I am a living, breathing ball of stress. I’m one of those people who look like they have it all together; and then you get to know me and you see how tightly wound, beat the clock and type A personality I can be. I try to water down my anxieties by finding humor in the madness, but the reality is Stress is bad for you, and it’s everywhere. It does things to your body that you sometimes can (pimples and hives, anyone?) and more often can not see.
The American Psychological Association describes short term stresses, (i.e. that presentation you are making today,) as harmful to your health (i.e. the presentation gives you stomach pain.). Long term, chronic stressors, for example, dealing yours or a friend or family members physical or mental illness can be linked to causing heart attacks and a slew of other cardiovascular risks.
The first step of dealing with a problem is admitting you have one, and I am more than happy to say, “My name is Angela and I am a ball of type A stress.” Now that we have passed that uncomfortable question is how do we manage stress in a world where we are over-scheduled, over tired and over doing everything?
The answer is meditation. At least, that is what I’m told. Personally, I’m not very good at quieting my mind, or my mouth, so sitting quietly is not a strong point for me; but,
The Mayo Clinic says that meditation can help ease anxiety and pain. It can provide new perspective on stressful situations and it can even help with cardiovascular health.
Neil Totton, an innovator in wellness challenge development (and an overall amazing fitness guru,) designed a 30-day meditation and positivity plan, and I decided I’d give it a shot. Here’s what happened when I opened up and said “om.”
Week 1 advises meditation for 5 minutes a day.
Day 1 of week 1 was pretty awful for me. I could not get my mind to stop. I actually found the meditation to be really annoying, because I kept thinking of everything I had to do. This went on for the first 4 days. By day 5 of week 1, I could focus on my breath and clearing my mind. By day 7, I was able to sit still for the full five minutes with a clear mind. The bonus was I slept a full night that evening. I remember it well, because that has not happened in ages.
Weeks 2 and 3 advise 10 and 15 minutes respectively.
I was able to achieve the time (I sent my alarm on my cell phone so that I would not look at the time.). 10 minutes feels really long, but it felt good. I felt like I was doing something special for myself; and by week 3, I was not struggling to make that time. I was actually looking forward to it.
Weeks 4 and 5 advise 20 and 25 minutes respectively.
Those were two really great weeks for me meditation wise. At that point, I had developed a knack for shutting the world out. My “to do list” could wait, and my priorities seemed to be much more clearly in order. My thought process was slowed and I felt less like I was reacting to the world around me, and more like I was living in the world around me. I was less fidgety and getting to bed was easier.
The verdict? Highly recommend.
I can not guarantee that I will make the time the way that I have over the past 5 weeks, but I can say that this will be something I go back to when I am feeling overwhelmed, overworked or just over it.
For more information, check out www.facebook.com/totton12.
In good health!
Angela Ranieri joins us as Contributing Editor with an extensive background in Fashion, Beauty and Digital Media. She has worked with PRADA USA Corp., Jurlique, Amore Pacific and the New York Daily News in management capacities including Marketing, Client Relations, Employee Relations and Training Management. She has authored and published the column, “Ask Angela,” featured on the Amore Pacific USA website. Her beauty advice has been featured in Shape and Fitness Magazines and CBS News.
She is a graduate of Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science in Communications and Writing.
Angela also has an MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from Northeastern University. While at Northeastern, her Market Research on the Electric Car was published for University use.
Angela is currently creator of Circuit Cosmetics, a Brand Ambassador for luxury beauty line, Patchology, an On Air Guest for QVC and blogger for www.thelaughinmommy.blogspot.com.
In her spare time you can find Angela running, spinning, practicing yoga or getting beautified. She resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her Husband, Son, and Chihuahuas.