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Meditation and Mindfulness really can help with Stress 
So 2020 really has knocked us for six hasn’t it. We started the year full of hope and positivity and it looks like we might be ending it in lockdown not being able to see our loved ones with Christmas just a distant memory of something we used to do around December. MIND the mental health charity estimate that 11% of us will not be able to cope with Christmas and that rises to 44% of people with a pre existing mental health condition. Things are really starting to look a little bleak for us all. But we can get through this if we work together and take control. 
Stress often starts out as something minor, something as ordinary as missing your bus, having a deadline at work you are struggling to meet, the kids getting sick, being caught in traffic, but it leads to far worse. Whenever we feel we aren’t in control of a situation our minds go into overdrive and that’s when the stress response kicks in. Our bodies are flooded with the stress hormone cortisol and we move into fight or flight mode and that’s where things start to really go wrong. Stress has a knock on effect on our physical health too with symptoms including; low energy, headaches, chest pain, upset stomach, insomnia, frequent colds and general aches and pains. All of those things then help to lower our immune systems effectiveness leaving us open to the dreaded virus and leading to even more stress. So what can we do to help? 
Well like anything catching it early really is the key, so if you find yourself in a stressful situation or you are suffering from any of the physical symptoms mentioned above its time to act now. Of course we could trot off to the doctors for a dose of Citalopram or Amitriptyline leaving us partially comatose and able to get through. Sounds lovely right? There are alternatives but only if we catch it early or even better if take action before stress even kicks in. Mindfulness and Meditation, M&Ms for the mind, can really help. 
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years across the world in order to still the mind, control thoughts or reach nirvana depending on your belief of choice. But it is becoming increasingly more popular in the modern world to help us deal with stress and anxiety as it gives us back some control. There are many types of meditation out there but meditation for relaxation is one of the simplest and easiest to get on board with, particularly if you want to avoid the more spiritual side of the practice. A quick search on YouTube will bring up hundreds of meditation videos and a further search on Spotify will return thousands of tracks all free to listen to, with everything from relaxing your body to cleansing your chakras to meeting a spirit guide. Whatever you’re into, whatever your belief there is something there to satisfy you. 
I cant meditate though, I cant sit still and empty my mind, there’s too much going on. Of course you cant, no one can, not without practice. Think of the brain like a muscle, you wouldn’t wake up tomorrow and go out and break the world record for a marathon with out at least some practice, and meditation is just the same. Start small and slow and work to greater things. Guided meditations are a great place to start because rather than encouraging you to empty your mind they help you to focus on one single thought instead. Listening to a calm voice asking you to follow instructions allows your brain to stop thinking of everything else for a while and just concentrate on doing one thing at a time. With practice you don’t even need the guide, you can slip into a meditation whilst sitting on the bus. 
Does it work though? Many studies have been done hooking people up to EEGs and watching brain activity while they are meditating with incredible results. It seems that meditation helps increase gamma waves from the brain. What are gamma waves? Gamma waves are considered to be your brains optimal frequency for functioning. An increase in gamma waves brings with it greater feeling of compassion, happiness and relaxation, everything we need for a calm and relaxed existence. So finally after thousands of years of practice, science has finally caught up and proved meditation is actually good for you. What are you waiting for? 
Stuart Lovell 
Alchemy Therapy Centre 
Check out our facebook page for details on our weekly meditation podcast, or join our facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/alchemymindbodyandspirit 
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