Mental Health has a significant correlation with physical health. Stressful conditions cause complications in various body systems and can hamper your glucose levels also. At the same time, constantly elevated glucose levels may lead to complications like obesity and metabolic disorders. Hence, it becomes vital to keep your glucose levels under control. Constant stress leads to an increase in cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone mainly responsible for counteracting the effects of insulin. It thereby leads to glucose dysregulation. Meditation is one of the proven methods to decrease stress levels and thereby positively impact the glucose profile of an individual. However, no size fits all with Healthcare. There are multiple forms of meditation, and finding the one that best suits you is essential.
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Significance of Healthy Glucose Levels
Glucose is the primary source of energy for all tissues. Complex metabolic processes regulate glucose levels, and various hormones like insulin, glucagon and cortisol can control it. Any discrepancy in these processes can lead to impaired glucose regulation and hyperglycemia. Research indicates that persistent hyperglycemia causes various complications, including reduced wound healing, decreased energy, and damage to neurons and nephrons. It might also ultimately lead to diabetes mellitus.
It is a common misconception that glucose levels and their monitoring are only relevant to diabetic individuals and do not have to do anything with non-diabetics. However, even without diabetes, monitoring glucose levels is essential as it helps understand your glucose trends and enables you to make relevant changes accordingly.
How Does Stress Affect Glucose Levels?
According to research, the human body is in a constant state of homeostasis; any disruptions to this state can lead to stress. Stress may be due to various reasons, such as family conflict or an inability to keep up with the work requirements.
Following an acutely stressful event, your body reacts through a cascade of changes in the nervous, cardiovascular, and hormonal systems. Primarily the body reacts to the secretion of cortisol. Cortisol is a glucocorticoid that the adrenal cortex secretes. This hormone is involved mainly in glucose metabolism. When released, cortisol decreases glucose uptake by muscle cells and adipose (fatty) tissue. It also promotes the process known as gluconeogenesis which is the production of glucose from amino acids and lactate. Cortisol also decreases the levels of insulin and increases the levels of glucagon. Insulin is the primary hormone that helps the cells uptake of glucose. When insulin is low, it leads to increased glucose levels.
Cortisol is under the control of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and returns to normal by a feedback mechanism. The feedback mechanism is the process by which the body maintains its hormonal balance. When the hormone is in excess, the body reduces the release of the hormone.
In the short term, it is a helpful process that allows the human body to combat the situation. However, more extended periods of stress (often termed chronic stress) dysregulate these mechanisms. The continuous stimulation of cortisol can damage the feedback mechanism. It leads to the tenancy of cortisol at higher levels than what is physiologically accepted. In addition, these changes in the hormones may lead to an increase in the d glucose levels.
Development of Metabolic Syndrome
Research indicates that people subjected to chronic stress may risk developing Metabolic syndrome. This condition results in decreased insulin sensitivity increased low-density cholesterol or bad cholesterol levels and increased obesity. In addition, the development of metabolic syndrome raises basal cortisol levels.
The HealthifyMe Note
When the body is in acute stressful conditions, it adapts and releases the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for increasing blood glucose levels and is usually controlled by feedback mechanisms. However, chronic stress disrupts these mechanisms leading to constantly elevated glucose levels.
Meditation: An Overview
Meditation is now a widespread practice that people worldwide follow. It is famous for its many benefits. Meditation was initially meant for connecting oneself to their deeper self and had stricter definitions. However, modern meditation is more straightforward, including several processes like contemplation, guided meditation, taichi, breathing exercises, and specific asanas. These techniques work at different levels and help in relieving stress.
Meditation is a process in which the individual uses the technique of their choice to achieve a mentally clear, emotionally calm, and stable state. It refers to any process that focuses on training attention and awareness that can help in fostering a healthy state of mind. Furthermore, it often eliminates multiple useless thoughts and focuses on improving your mental health. It leads to a heightened sense of alertness and concentration. It is also often described as blissful by its practitioners.
Benefits of Meditation
According to research, the process of meditation has several health benefits. It reduces stress, anxiety, and depression while increasing pain tolerance. It also reduces blood pressure and heart rate by decreasing the sympathetic system. The sympathetic system is responsible for releasing hormones like adrenaline and noradrenaline, which cause hyperactivity in the cardiovascular system. Meditation also helps in decreasing cortisol levels which ensures proper glucose metabolism.
Meditation improves memory and leads to increased efficiency. It also increases oxygen utilisation and eliminates carbon-di-oxide. In addition, meditation increases blood flow to the brain and thereby maintains the thickness of grey matter. The grey matter of the brain is crucial for all functions.
Meditation is also effective in dealing with smoking addiction. It can improve the lipid profile of the practitioner. Meditation decreases the production of lactate and thereby significantly increases exercise tolerance.
Concepts of Meditation
There are considerable variations in the practice of meditation. With the progression of time, the techniques have been reshaped and changed. Although the path of practice has changed, the core and concept of meditation remain unchanged.
Contemplation is one of the oldest and most essential concepts of meditation. The practitioner focuses on the subtleties of life. For example, they contemplate the wrongful insights one might have as an individual, or they may choose to focus on the unpleasant emotions they experience. This process allows you to understand your trigger points and the vices you might have. Only when you know where you stand can you change.
Subduing the Negative Mind
After understanding the wrongful thoughts you have, the task becomes more manageable. Through various techniques, the mind learns to focus and become quiet. It allows the practitioner to reason and combat negative thoughts.
Forms of Meditation
It is easy to contemplate and change negative thoughts from the fundamental core of meditation. The paths to attain the same can be multiple, and you can choose any of them based on what is comfortable. Meditation techniques are broadly classified into two types: focused type and open monitoring type.
Focused meditation refers to single-point meditation. It involves completely diverting and driving the entire focus onto a single substance. The subject of interest can be anything, concentrating on breathing or chanting a prayer. This meditation may also involve concentrating on one particular thought or image.
Mindfulness Meditation or Open Monitoring
Mindfulness meditation is purposefully bringing the individual’s attention to the present. It involves the observation of thoughts without judgement. According to research, it reboots the system and makes the person aware and conscious of their thoughts.
The Combination (Vipassana)
Focused meditation tries to divert the entire focus of the individual to one single point. However, mindfulness meditation is non-judgmental awareness of thoughts. Vipassana is an ancient technique that combines focused meditation and mindfulness meditation.
Other Forms of Meditation
Taichi is often called mediation in motion. It is an ancient Chinese mind-body exercise involving meditation and movement components in response to outside forces. It concentrates on focusing the energy on breathing and feeling the external forces. Evidence accumulated from studies indicates that Taichi is beneficial in improving psychological health and self-esteem while improving the overall quality of life.
As the name implies, guided meditation is when someone else guides you through the entire process. For example, the person in charge might help you create a specific image, or they may help you go through a series of breathing exercises. This type of meditation might be advantageous when you have difficulty concentrating.
The HealthifyMe Note
Meditation is helpful for de-stressing as it reduces the levels of cortisol. You can practise it in many forms. However, focused mediation, mindfulness meditation and vipassana are the most widespread.
How to Practice? Different Meditation Techniques
This form of meditation requires you to focus on a single object or function. Provided below are steps you can follow to master this technique of meditation.
- Assume the most comfortable position for your body. It can be either sitting or lying.
- Make sure you are not sitting on the bare ground. Instead, use a yoga mat or blanket underneath.
- Set up the mood. You can use calming music and dim your lights.
- Set aside all electronic devices, preferably in silent mode.
- Relax and start breathing deeply, and calm your mind.
- Decide the object or movement of your focus. It can be your breathing, or it can be a chant. You can also focus on burning oil lamps or candles.
- If your object of focus is breathing, concentrate on your inhalation and exhalation. Observe how your chest moves during each breath.
- Try to focus your attention for as long as possible. Then, if your mind wanders, try to bring it back into focus.
- Continue this process for 5 mins if you are a beginner. You can always increase the period gradually with practice.
Image Training or Visualisation
Image training is an extended form of focused attention. In this type of meditation, the individual focuses their attention on a particular image. Whatever image brings you peace, you might focus on that image. What brings you peace might be different for different individuals. For one, it might be the image of their hometown; for another, it might be the tranquillity of hills.
Mindfulness is an essential human quality. Life demands you to be aware of breathing, eating and every function you perform. Unfortunately, today’s world has become semi-conscious. It has become very mechanical, and there is no awareness of the thoughts your mind is producing and creating. This unawareness brings with it a lot of stress and anxiety. The noting meditation technique helps you note and become more aware. These are the steps you can follow to practise this mediation technique.
- Assume your most comfortable position. (Note: You do not have to stay still to carry out this meditation technique. You can do it during any part of the day.)
- Note the things that run through your mind. Then, understand what kind of thoughts your mind creates.
- Become more aware of your surroundings. Feel the air and the environment that encircles you.
- Become aware of your breathing.
- This meditation technique allows you to understand your mind’s negative thoughts and will enable you to create positive thoughts with more awareness.
This meditation technique combines focusing your attention on a single object, image or function and understanding where the mind wanders during this process and bringing it back.
- Assume the most comfortable position.
- Focus your attention on a single object or your breathing pattern.
- Your mind might wander during the process. So let your mind wander and observe.
- Return to your breathing pattern naturally after observation.
- Continue this process for 15 minutes.
As a beginner, it might be hard to practice for 15 minutes. However, one can always begin with the time they are comfortable with.
Getting Started? Things You Need To Know
- Every individual is different and unique. What works for everyone else might not work for you. So, it is essential to experiment and understand. Continuously monitoring your glucose levels might be an excellent way to track your progress.
- Make meditation a part of your lifestyle. Twenty minutes is the recommended duration for meditation. However, you can always start at a lower limit and build it up.
- Meditate after you wake up. Avoid screen time. It will allow you to sort your thoughts for the day and keep you on track.
- Find a calm and quiet place to meditate. You can play relaxing music or use audio clips to guide you through the process.
- Meditation is not limited to sitting down with your legs crossed. Taichi is a form of meditation while in movement. For example, taking a 10-minute walk while keeping your mind calm can also work as meditation.
- Incorporate meditation into your routine and make it a lifestyle change.
Is Meditation Enough to Optimise Your Glucose Levels?
While meditation is an excellent way to optimise your stress levels and get your glucose levels under control, having a proper diet and exercise is compulsory. There is no one size fits all with diet and exercise as well. What works for somebody else might not be healthy for you. Hence tracking your glucose levels and your metabolic parameters might be a great way to understand your profile. Knowing your profile might help you understand the foods that work best for you and the exercises that boost your metabolism.
You can always control your glucose levels: Eat healthily, exercise well, invest time for yourself to de-stress and get good quality sleep.
Optimum Glucose Levels are a critical factor for overall health. However, chronic stress is a major detrimental factor to glucose levels. It continuously stimulates the production of cortisol, damaging its regulation mechanisms. As a result, it leads to a state of increased blood glucose levels and insulin resistance. One of the best and proven ways to combat stress is meditation.
Meditation has multiple forms but works on two main principles of contemplation and revision, i.e. understanding the negative insights and fixing them. The most basic classification of meditation includes focused mediation and open monitoring. The combination of these techniques is vipassana, the most popular meditation method. Furthermore, Taichi and guided meditation are other famous meditation forms.