The Power of Meditation and Physical Exercise


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The benefits in meditation help Saugus students through distance learning.

Samantha Orenlas, The Scroll, Staff Writer

Since Covid-19 started to spread around the world there has been much change that has occurred in such a short amount of time. Breaking out of our daily habits and having to adapt to new norms is not easy. Because of this many people are suffering with poor mental and physical health. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to relieve or manage stress, meditation and physical health play a big role in living a healthy and active life.

According to the Washington Post, “A federal emergency hotline for people in emotional distress registered a more than 1,000 percent increase in April compared with the same time last year.” These numbers only continue to grow as we continue to live through a pandemic, with record high unemployment, isolation and starting a new school year strictly online. 

Although these things continue to be present factors in our lives it does not mean there are no ways to try and help ourselves in the process. Mental health and physical health go hand in hand and should not be taken lightly. Some ways to stay mentally healthy and occupied is through meditation. Meditation provides many health benefits such as reducing anxiety, depression and stress. This is essential to teenagers who are starting a new school year online. There is so much pressure around the idea of online school, it’s difficult for teens not to feel overwhelmed and stressed. 

Brandon Ornelas, a Saugus graduate and an advocate for meditation that recently began  attending Yale online said, “I began meditating about 3 months ago and it’s one of the best choices I’ve made for myself. Especially with the stress that comes with school, growing up and the current pandemic.”

  Ornelas stresses the importance of taking care of oneself amid the chaos occurring around the world. He stated, “During this pandemic there’s a lot of people that are scared and worried so everybody is checking in on everybody and trying to find ways to uplift one another. But they forget to look in a mirror and do the same, at the end of the day no one will take care of you for you. A healthy mind is the first step to making a positive difference.” 

There are a couple simple steps to meditation, the first being setting. Finding a quiet and calming environment is crucial. Breathing deeply, exhaling slowly and gazing softly are the next steps. Then scan the body, analyze any tense places and begin to let the mind roam freely. Begin to ask questions and observe the breath. Lastly, once preparing to finish the meditation session, begin to observe the surroundings, take any answered questions or new actions and put them to use into everyday life. A meditation session can be as short as 5 minutes or as long as 30 minutes but either is equally effective. Some resources to look into for more help on meditation, click here , here or here

Along with mental health, physical health is just as important. Staying physically healthy by exercising has tons of positive effects such as releasing serotonin, a brain hormone that releases the ‘happy’ feeling, good self esteem and strengthens brain cells which results in a higher learning capacity.

Exercise is very important for young teens that are facing the pressure of having to look a certain way. Melissa Leon, a student at Canyon High school said, “Fitness was my way of overcoming obstacles in my life that I couldn’t work out through therapy or anything like that[…]it was almost like something was physically holding me back from becoming this new person I had worked so hard to become.”

Leon also expresses the importance of exercising consistently: “When we began the stay at home policy in March I was excited because nobody would see me, so I wouldn’t really take care of myself. But it led to really dark and negative thoughts. I felt like I had no purpose and I was insecure” This expands on the idea that exercise is a key factor in feeling great and looking great. When she did not take care of herself she was feeling lazy, tired and depressed but once she started working out, she’s been feeling confident and is always on the move. This is another benefit for students since pressure to look a certain way is so high. When teens can’t meet the standards they feel insecure and have negative thoughts about themselves. But consistent exercise would improve the way people look at themselves and overall boost their mental and physical strength.