Do you ever experience stress during you day? A dumb question, isn't it? Life is full of stressors: a traffic jam when you're already running late, a phone that won't stop ringing, a looming deadline for a project you're running behind on.

How do you deal with your stress? Do you just let it build? Or do you proactively do something to better cope? By coping, I don't mean consoling yourself with a bag of potato chips or hitting happy hour after work. Those means may help you escape but they're not helping you reduce the amount of stress you feel.

Throughout your day, as stressful situations come up, your body automatically goes into fight-or-flight mode. This causes your heart rate to jump and your adrenals start kicking out cortisol.

The negative effects of stress are well-documented. The question is: is there something you can do when stress hits to bring down your heart rate and keep from getting stressed-out?

The answer is yes: it's mediation.

The benefits of meditation include:

· Lowered levels of cortisol and lactate-two chemicals associated with stress

· Reduction of free radicals that cause tissue damage

· Improved blood pressure

· Drop in cholesterol levels

· Increased brain wave coherence

· Decreased anxiety

· Decreased depression

· Decreased irritability and moodiness

Neuroscientists have found that meditation causes a shift of brain activity from the right frontal cortex, which is stress-prone, to the left frontal cortex, which is the calmer side.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, recorded brainwaves of stressed-out employees at a Madison, WI high tech firm. The employees were randomly divided into two groups. One group became the control group and was left alone. The other group learned mediation over the course of eight weeks.

Brain waves were scanned at the beginning of the experiment, after the eight weeks of meditation lessons, and again four moths later.

Researchers found there was a pronounced shift of brain activity to the left frontal lobe, resulting in the subjects being calmer and happier. This is because meditation has the opposite effect on the body as stress does. Meditation restores the body to a calm state, which helps it to repair itself and prevents new damage from the physical effects of stress.

But what if you've never meditated before? How do you start? It's really pretty simple. Sit in a relaxed position and clear your mind. Dr Wayne Dyer, in his book 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace calls it "embracing the silence." It's helpful if you can be somewhere that gives you silence and privacy. Focus on your breathing, with long slow inhales and exhales. This breathing helps lower your heart rate, normalizes your blood pressure and helps you use oxygen more efficiently. Try taking a 10-minute meditation break and notice the difference in your body and stress levels.

Let me give you an example of how you can use this in your day. I was at my computer working on a project I really wanted to finish. I was getting close, but I could feel the stress coming on and I was getting irritable. Wanting to finish up I decided I'd push myself through it. Stress levels increased and so did my irritability. Now I was starting to make stupid mistakes. The more mistakes I made, the more stressed and irritable I became, therefore, the more mistakes I made. It was a vicious cycle. It was then I realized I needed to change my approach. I walked away from my computer and spend about 10 minutes meditating. Not only did I get the project done, the stress and irritability never returned.

Author's Bio: 

Lynn Smith is a health and weight loss coach and co-founder of Health Coach Team. Health Coach Team offers individual and group coaching on health and weight loss, teleseminars, articles and resources to support women in losing weight and gaining health and energy. Lynn has co-authored "The YES Diet: A New System for Permanent Weight Loss," a no-hype approach to permanently reaching your weight-loss goals.
Join Lynn on September 9, 2009 for a free teleseminar entitled "4 Weight Loss Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them." Register at