The mind-body connection no longer exists purely as an alternative theory or therapy. Backed by science, mind-body interventions like group therapy, meditation, and cognitive-behavioral therapy can help to reduce and manage stress, which affects endocrine function.
Ahead, how meditation can support the treatment of hypothyroidism symptoms, and how to get started in your practice.
There are many ways to meditate. Some techniques focus on deep breathing techniques or focus attention on an object to achieve a sense of calm. Other methods include mantras (words or sounds) repeated over and over. Guided meditations can include visualizing healing energy or relaxing the body from head to toe.
Almost all meditation techniques have an object of focus — like the breath, the body, or a candle flame. Focusing the mind on something during meditation helps us practice to choose our focus consciously and build our stress tolerance. Of course, meditation can be uncomfortable, but the more you practice, the more resilience you build to face other physical or emotional discomforts.
Another common characteristic of meditation is compassionate acceptance toward yourself. During meditation, it is inevitable that your mind wanders. You're staring at a candle, observing its flicker, and suddenly you're thinking about the last time you cleaned your bathroom. Meditation asks us to accept the thoughts that surface, acknowledge them, and let it go without judgment as you regain your focus.
Meditation helps us train our attention to support plasticity in the brain - that is, the brain's ability to change and adapt. We need to challenge the mind to form new connections between brain cells.
Research suggests that meditation and mindfulness can positively impact how you feel and may even reduce the risk of clinical depression.
Meditation can create a state of deep physiological rest in a very similar way to that of sleep. This kind of rest helps to restore every cell in your body. Meditation may help you get to sleep, stay asleep, or sleep more deeply.
Stress affects your thyroid function. When your body is stressed, your adrenal glands produce cortisol. Studies suggest that elevated levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone are associated with high levels of cortisol. Meditation can lower cortisol levels which may support thyroid function
Starting a meditation practice on your own can be difficult. It may be helpful to have some guidance, especially in the beginning. You may be able to find in-person meditation classes at your local library or health center. Online, you can find endless guided meditations on YouTube, Insight Timer, or subscription services like Headspace and Calm.
We recommend you start with small doses. Choose a time of day that you want to meditate, and start with one or two minutes. Sit or lay down in whatever position feels comfortable to you. Once you feel satisfied with your starting time frame, add 30 seconds or a minute and continue to build up from there.
Start each practice with deep breathing. When we hold stress in our body, we clench up, and our breath becomes shallow, which restricts blood flow. Take five or ten deep, delicious breaths at the beginning of your meditation and notice how it changes the quality of your practice.
Remember that you can't mess this up! There is no wrong way to meditate.
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