Whether it’s caused by the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the trauma of divorce, or even the new responsibilities of a promotion, extreme stress can sap your energy and motivation and leave you feeling helpless. Fortunately, there are simple actions you can take – starting today – to reduce your stress and leave you feeling calm and in control.

Meditation is one of the best stress relievers I know of. And the more stress you are experiencing, the more meditation you need. This spiritual (and psychological) technique is 5,000 years old. It is taught, in one form or another, by all of the world’s great religions. There is no debate, religious or scientific, about its value. And it is particularly helpful to anyone affected by extreme stress.

How does meditation relieve stress?

Meditation quiets the mind, lowers blood pressure, rests and calms the body, and expands your ability to solve problems creatively. It also enhances and speeds spiritual growth. All of these benefits will help you survive and even transform your difficult life situation.

To meditate, sit in a comfortable chair in a quiet room. Both feet on the floor. Hands in your lap. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply three times and then normally. Repeat (in your mind), “Peace be with me.” Your mind will wander. Simply bring it back by repeating “Peace be with me.”

Try it. Do this for 20 minutes once a day. Twice a day is better. Make the time. It may be the best thing you do all day.

[Ed. Note: Dr. Matthew Anderson, author of The Prayer Diet, is a counselor and national columnist/expert on weight loss, motivation, self-management, and relationships.]

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