The Concept: Turn that stress into calm. The goal is to soothe your sympathetic nervous system (the nerves that make your heart pound and your stomach churn), and switch on your parasympathetic nervous system (the nerves that keep you calm under pressure), says Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing at Middle Tennessee State University, in Murfreesboro, TN.
The Benefits: Meditation helps treat chronic stress, anxiety, panic attacks, pain, depression and insomnia, according to NIH researchers. And a new study at Milwaukee’s Medical College of Wisconsin suggests that daily meditation could cut your risk of heart disease or a stroke as much as 47 percent -- by dampening production of the artery-damaging stress hormone cortisol.
The Procedure: In training, you’ll be taught to focus on an object, mantra (a word or set of words) or sensation (like breathing), while letting your body and brain completely relax. After a bit of practice, you’ll be sent home and encouraged to meditate daily. It’s that simple!
The Contact: Your local YMCA, community center or hospital should have meditation-training programs. Many are free.