Meditation Techniques for Stress

Stress has become synonymous to today’s fast-paced life. It is a leading cause for poor mental and physical health. In order to cope with stress, we need to adopt certain meditation techniques that will lead us to happier and healthier lifestyle.

Stress is a silent killer. Most of us have experienced or witnessed this at some time or the other.. Stress affects everything that we do―neither can we work efficiently enough, nor can we take proper decisions. Adding to that, a person who is undergoing stress is prone to certain medical conditions like heart diseases, hypertension, and diabetes.

It has been found that using certain meditation techniques helps reduce, and with the passage of time, prevent stress from affecting us. It would therefore do us good to learn some easy meditation forms to help in dealing with stress effectively. If you’ve never done meditation before, it would do you good to begin with some basic exercises first.

Breathing Technique

  • To begin with, choose a comfortable spot.
  • Make sure that you’re wearing loose and comfortable clothes.
  • There should be no distractions when you sit for meditation. So keep the phone, TV, and other noise-making objects away.
  • Sit on a rug or mat and fold your legs in the lotus position (the heels of both feet, under the thighs).
  • Keep your back straight. Initially (before you get used to this), you can rest your back against a wall. But make sure that it is always straight. Give up this practice once you’re able to sit without support.
  • Sit quietly and close your eyes.
  • Relax all the muscles of your body, one by one. Start with the muscles of the feet and move up till the head. Tell yourself that you can feel the stress ebbing away from each and every muscle. Slowly, you will start to feel yourself relaxing.
  • Since you are new at this, it is understandable if you start to get distracted and your thought process shifts. Try to focus your attention on your breathing.
  • Breathe deeply and evenly.
  • Concentrate on the air being inhaled and exhaled, concentrating on the way the air fills you up and then leaves you.
  • Do this for 20 minutes each day.
  • Repeating this technique twice or thrice a day will only add to the benefits it reaps.
  • It is said that meditating for 20 minutes per day (if done right) is as good as making up for 4 hours of rest.

Focus on Objects and Sound

  • Place an object, like a mug, or candle before you.
  • Now, start examining the object.
  • Look at all its details―the shape, size, texture, and temperature.
  • Concentrating and focusing your entire attention on the object at hand will help you build your focusing powers.
  • Sometimes, having a word that you can say out loud and then focusing on all its nuances can help.
  • Many people use the word ‘Om’ (Pronounced Oommm) to help concentrate better.

Create a Happy Place

This technique has been found to be very effective. Create a ‘happy place’ for yourself. Include all the things that make you happy and help you relax. Now, build situations around this and imagine it in all its entirety, covering all the nuances, and including as many senses as you can in this exercise.

Relaxing Exercises

More and more people these days are choosing to take up exercises like yoga and Tai-chi, which combine exercising and meditation, and thus lead to stress relief. These are a series of exercises that involve mastering several poses and postures in varied degrees of difficulty. They also include breathing workouts and techniques. When one focuses on these exercises, there is very little else that can distract you.

Meditation techniques for stress have been around for ages, but it is only now that we have begun to realize the far-reaching positive effects that they have on us. Being one with your mind and soul is truly the best way to relax and reduce stress. When you try these techniques, you’ll experience it for yourself.

Healthy Eating Habits

Our overall health and well-being depends on what we eat. Food is the main source to get an adequate amount of nutrients that are essential for normal growth and functioning of the body. Hence, it is very important to develop eating habits for good health and physical fitness.

Your diet should be healthy and balanced. It should consist of adequate amounts of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and fibers. You should include plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits as well as dairy products in your daily diet. Generally, it should be low in fats and rich in proteins and carbohydrates.

Healthy Eating Tips
A key to healthy eating is the time-tested advice of variety, balance and moderation. You should eat a variety of foods without gaining excessive calories or any of nutrients. Here are some useful tips for healthy eating:

More than 40 different nutrients are required for normal growth and functioning of the body. Our daily meals should contain whole-grain products, fresh vegetables and fruits, poultry, dairy products, fish, meat and other protein foods. Vegetables and fruits are rich in vitamins and minerals and low in fats, sodium and calories. Most vegetables contain and antioxidants phytochemicals, which prevent some chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancers.

Don’t skip a breakfast. After not eating anything for past 10-12 hours during night, our body requires food to boost the energy levels. Your breakfast should consist of fruits and a glassful of milk or fresh fruit juice. Avoid eating oily, high calorie snacks in breakfast.

Your lunch should be the largest meal of the day. Start every meal with a low-fat starter including soup, salad, broth or a glass of water. Your lunch should include enough quantity of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Include some raw vegetables and fruits in your lunch. Eat slowly and take care that you are not eating more than required. Your lunch should be followed by a fruit juice or fruit salad.

We all need some snacks in between two meals. So choose the snacks very carefully. Avoid eating junk foods, which lack in nutrients and contain high calories. Instead, select some healthy snacks such as vegetables, fruits, cottage cheese with applesauce, low fat yogurt, whole-wheat crackers or some trail mix. Dietary sugars can be replaced with no-calorie sweeteners.

Drink at least 8 glasses of water everyday. It keeps your body hydrated. It is also helpful for body cleanse and weight loss.

If you keep a reasonable serving size, then it’s easy to eat adequate quantity of food and stay healthy. Excess eating can give rise to a number of health problems, including obesity.

If you are trying for weight loss, then don’t go for crash diets or don’t totally eliminate certain foods. You can reduce the foods that are rich in sugar, fat or salt. You can choose skim or low fat dairy products. If you are going to do some changes in your diet, then do it gradually. Sudden changes can give rise to food allergies.

Always remember, no food is good or bad. It’s up to you how to balance the variety of foods. Adopt healthy habits for good health and physical fitness, leading to a cheerful, healthy life.

Importance of Breakfast for Students

A number of studies have highlighted the benefits of a good nutritious breakfast for students. Unfortunately, however, many young ones have the tendency of skipping this important first meal. Students should have a complete and healthy breakfast on a daily basis.

As parents and caregivers, it is your responsibility to provide kids with a healthy breakfast. Many students refuse to eat breakfast before going to school, citing reasons such as lack of time, not feeling hungry, etc. However, they do not realize that not having breakfast actually hampers their health, and can cause various learning problems too.

To prevent such issues, it is necessary that students develop the habit of eating breakfast daily. Rather than forcing children, it is better if we make them understand the benefits of a good breakfast, so that the automatically start having it. In the following lines we highlight the several benefits that eating a healthy breakfast has and also present you with a few tips for preparing not just a healthy but a tasty breakfast for your little ones.

Breakfast Like a King
The importance of breakfast lies in the word itself. By eating breakfast, we are actually breaking the fast that was induced during the long gap after dinner the previous night, when we were asleep. By the time we wake up in the morning, most of our energy is used up and hence we need to re-energize in-order to go through our daily routine.

Students who do not eat or frequently skip breakfast are at a high risk of developing gastroenteritis and several other health problems. Not only that, students are required to pay attention and grasp new concepts in school and an empty stomach may come in the way of their progress.

It has been observed that children who do not have their breakfast before going to school tend to experience a number of health problems, including headache, sleepiness, stomach pain, muscle fatigue, etc. Also several psychological issues including indecisiveness, anger, anxiety, irritability, unhappiness, nervousness, lethargy, hostility, etc., are commonly seen in students who skip their breakfast. Such problems tend to hinder the learning process.

These days, schools students are not only required to learn different subjects, but are also expected to indulge in extracurricular activities for their overall development. For performing well, they need energy which comes from the glucose that breakfast provides. Moreover, eating breakfast regularly also helps in weight management and reduces the risk of child-obesity, which has become a common problem in recent times.

Students who have the habit of eating breakfast regularly, have reported better concentration and ability to pay attention during lessons, as compared to those who do not. Breakfast is also beneficial for the memory of the students as they are better able to remember and retrieve already learned information. Even the problem-solving ability of students is seen to be improved if they eat breakfast on a regular basis.

Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between eating a healthy breakfast and the test scores. It has been observed that students who have their breakfast regularly, score better in their tests than those who don’t. Also, because a healthy breakfast provides ¼th of the nutrition that the body requires daily, there are less chances that children will indulge in binge eating, and thus avoid fast-foods which are not good for health.

What Makes a Healthy Breakfast
Now that we know its importance, the next step is to find out what exactly should be eaten for breakfast. Though carbohydrates that provide energy to the body are one of the most important part of a healthy breakfast, it is necessary to make sure that one doesn’t consume a carb-only meal in the morning. A complete breakfast should include all the necessary nutrients, including proteins, calcium, vitamin B6, vitamin A, zinc and iron. Also, make sure that it contains a minimum of sodium, salt and sugar.

A basic breakfast should include cereals, milk and fruits. There are plenty of healthy and easy breakfast recipes available on the Internet which you can try-out. The following are a few tips to help you prepare a healthy and nutritious breakfast for your little ones:

Fruits should be made part of the daily diet of children. Fresh fruits, like, oranges, grapes, mangoes, berries, apples, kiwis, etc. are good choices to be eaten for breakfast. They can be served with a cup of yogurt and cereal.

While choosing cereals, it is best to choose the high-fiber, hot cereals such as oatmeal. Cold cereals containing less sugar and more fiber too can be served occasionally. These cereals can be eaten by adding nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and allspice to them.

Making a smoothie for breakfast is a nutritious and tasty option that will be loved by children. A vegetable omelet served with bran muffin and low fat milk or orange juice can also be a good idea for breakfast. Kids may also enjoy whole grain waffles served with ricotta cheese, peanut butter and fruits for breakfast.

Other than these, even the food leftover from the night before such as rice or sandwiches, can be served for breakfast.
Inculcating the habit of having a complete and healthy breakfast in children will not only aid them in their life as students, but also benefit them when they grow up into healthy adults.

Easily Digestible Foods

Our digestive system helps us utilize the essential nutrients of the foods that we consume. However, not all foods are easily digestible. Here is a list of food items that can help our digestive system work in a relaxed manner, without having to work so hard.

Although our body is magnificently designed to be able to carry out the hardest of processes with maximum ease, yet, there are some functions that are not carried out as smoothly, as it may seem. Like how there are some foods, say bananas for example, which are very easy to chew; there are some other food items like dry fruits, sugarcane, etc., that require efforts on the chewing part. Likewise, for our digestive system too, there are certain foods that are easy to break down, while there are some food items that tend to put a lot of pressure on the digestive system.

If you look at our eating habits, you would usually find food items like cheese, butter, red meats, fried chips, etc., becoming a casual meal for most of us. Forget about the calories, most of these food items are not exactly digestion-friendly. We usually don’t feel the need to change our menus until and unless we become sick, or when we see that our body is expanding according to our eating habits. Be it for weight loss, or, for wellness; the need for consuming the basic and simple foods to reduce the strain on our digestive system, and the overall body (in the form of illnesses and obesity); cannot be ignored. But before we learn about the foods that help the digestion process, let us first understand about the various nutrients that are required by our body; and how we can help our digestive system to avail the benefits of these, without having to go through much stress.

Essential Nutrients and their Digestion

There are four basic types of food groups, or nutrients, namely: natural sugars, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The human body needs all these 4 types of food nutrients in some or the other form for normal functioning. The human digestive system requires the least time and energy to break down natural sugars and assimilate them in the body. The carbohydrates require a little more time and energy to be digested. The proteins can be classified into simple and complex. As the name suggests, the simple proteins require less time for digestion as compared to the complex proteins; and the fats require the maximum time to be broken down. The digestion-friendly foods, thus, contain more of natural sugars, simple proteins, and carbohydrates. However, we cannot exclude the other nutrients like fats, complex proteins, vitamins, and minerals; as they are required to fulfill some essential bodily functions. Hence, an ideal diet must not only contain easily digested protein, sugars, or the easily digestible carbohydrates, but must also contain some amount of fats, complex proteins, and other complex nutrients of foods as well; in small quantities. Remember, simple proteins are available in plants; and the meat and dairy products usually contain complex protein, which is not easy for the body to reconstruct.

Foods that are Easy to Digest

There are several reasons why we may need to consume easily digestible foods; recovery from an illness, weight reduction, to get rid of cholesterol and heart related problems, recovery from a surgery, reducing stress, etc. There are various food items that are yummy, healthy, and easily compatible with your digestive system. Read through the following points to understand the foods containing nutrients that are easily absorbed by the human body. These are categorized as follows.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Whenever we Google “healthy foods”, the pictures that appear consists of fruits and vegetables without any fail, right? The reason is that these foods contain a significant amount of easily digestible carbohydrates, simple proteins; and two very important nutrients, namely – water and fiber, that are instrumental in easing and increasing the rate of digestion. While fruits are usually consumed raw, eating the vegetables raw or boiled is highly beneficial. Some of the fruits and vegetables in this category include – dark green vegetables like spinach, lettuce, asparagus, zucchini, Swiss chard, basil, squash, kales, etc. Other vegetables that you can eat are mushrooms, carrots, and mashed potatoes. Fruits like bananas, oranges, melons, grapes, apricots, apples, berries, and peaches would also prove to be effective.

Pulses
Pulses mainly include beans, lentils, and peas. They are easily absorbed by the body, and are very high in protein and fiber; making a very healthy and nutritious choice for the health conscious foodies. Pulses are usually boiled and consumed as soups, stews, and curries; thereby making an ideal food with water content. You can also add pulses like sprouts and kidney beans, in your salads and sandwiches. Some pulses that are prominently easy to digest are – Red (split) lentils, Mung/Haricot/Aduki beans. In fact, mostly all kinds of pulses and sprouts are ideal to include in your menu. While cooking the pulses, make sure you don’t add a lot of spices and oil into it.

Cereals
Just like the pulses, one must certainly avoid cooking cereals with fat or oil. The simple proteins often get converted into complex proteins, if cooked in an unhealthy manner. Baking the flour of a cereal is quite okay, but again, one must avoid any kind of fat. Rice is one of the best options to go for as it is easy to cook, and even more easy to absorb by the body. Dishes made from oats, barley, quinoa, ragi, and wheat are also beneficial to aid digestion. Make sure the preparation is as simple as possible. Avoid extra spices and fried toppings. Just boil the cereal and sprinkle some salt and herbs in the dish to enjoy the dish in the most simple and natural way.

For the Meat Lovers…
The meat lovers needn’t be disappointed! Of course you can eat your meat and watch your weight. While it is true that a vegetarian diet is more easily accepted by our body as compared to the non-vegetarian diet; you can also include lean meats in your diet to savor your taste buds. Avoid eating red meats like beef and pork. Instead, opt for chicken and fish. In fact, a chicken breast (without the skin), when eaten either baked or grilled, is excellent for losing weight and keeping your cholesterol under control. Fishes like Salmon, Albacore tuna, Herring, Sardines, Halibut, etc., are excellent for your health.

Some More Easily Digestible Foods

Garlic

Soda Crackers

Gelatin

Toast

Yogurt

Peas

Sourdough

Onions

Wheat Sprouts

Prunes

Green Beans

Bread

Soups / Broth

Porridge

Baked Turkey

he basic approach to determine as to what you are eating is easy for your body to digest, or not; lies in the nutrition value. So, make sure that the food is high in protein and fiber, has simple carbohydrates, and is very low in fat. Therefore, dishes that appear to be fatty, oily, or greasy; are a big no! On the other hand, foods that are lean, easy to make, and light in nature should be consumed. It is recommended to use olive oil for cooking, but not more than 2 tablespoons in a day. Also, instead of consuming 3 heavy meals in a day, it is best to have 6 – 8 small and light meals. No matter what you eat from the list mentioned above, your best bet would be consuming a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables; they are the easiest to digest. If you are suffering from a health issue, it is best to consult a trusted doctor regarding your diet. Take care.