Everybody experiences stress at one time or another during their daily lives. Although most of the time stress will eventually subside, if you continually experience prolonged periods of stress it can be significantly detrimental to your health in many ways. Some of these issues include heart disease, asthma, diabetes, obesity, depression and more. Fortunately, there are several actions you can take to reduce stress in your life. One of the more popular ones is meditation which has been shown to be quite effective in many cases. 

What is meditation? 

The practice of meditation has been around for thousands of years and has been practiced by people from all over the world. At first the goal of meditation was mostly spiritual as it was seen as a way to gain deeper existential understanding and comprehension of the forces controlling the universe. Nowadays, meditation is also commonly utilized to help relieve stress and aid in relaxation of the body and mind. 

Most meditation methods entail singularly focusing on a single thing which is commonly your in and out breathing. Other points of focus for meditation may include some type of soothing image or a particular sentence of phrase. The idea is to allow you to better deal with the overwhelm of random thoughts and impulses running through your mind. Deep breathing aspects of meditation encourages physical relaxation of the body and reduces stress. 

Physical ailments 

There is some scientific research that suggests meditation could assist in relieving various physical ailments and illnesses that may be exacerbated by stress. However, it should be noted that the scientific research remains inconclusive but is quite hopeful. Some of the stress-related physical ailments that meditation may be able to relieve include, anxiety, depression, heart disease, insomnia, and headaches. There is even some evidence that suggests meditation can even help your body combat cancer. 

How does meditation help the body reduce stress? 

The body’s stress reaction is regulated by the autonomic nervous system which controls the involuntary functioning of the body, such as blood pressure, digestion, and heart rate. The autonomic nervous system is divided into two parts which are the parasympathetic and the sympathetic. 

The sympathetic nervous system prompts the body to prepare for stressful situations by releasing certain chemicals that cause you to be on edge and hypervigilant. In other words, it causes you to experience what is known as symptoms of stress. Alternatively, the parasympathetic system creates responses in the body which allows you to recover from stress, thus calming you down. 

Meditation has been shown to shut off the sympathetic nervous system while activating the parasympathetic nervous system which results in stress reduction. 

Meditation can help you live to see retirement 

Anything that reduces stress can help to avoid and combat stress-related illnesses and health problems which can potentially result in how long you live. Meditation with its ability to utilize the parasympathetic nervous system to relieve stress can ultimately allow you to live long enough to see retirement which is a key goal of family financial planning. 


The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.  Any opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.