The effect of meditation on our mental health has been documented and studied in many clinical and research studies over the years. Reduced stress, increased attention, lower blood pressure, and reduced anxiety and depression symptoms are just a few of meditation advantages.
Since it increases your consciousness and reduces the effects of stress, the habitual practice of exercising your mind to relax and calm down your thoughts will improve your mental health.
What Is Meditation?
To better understand the practical ways how meditation can help you improve your mental well-being, it’s best to know first what meditation is and what science says about it. Meditation is the activity of thought intensely or concentrating one’s mind for a prolonged period of time. Although there are several different meditation methods, the end aim is to create a sense of calm and inner harmony, which may help with mental well-being. There is a strong body of research to back this up.
Researchers analyzed over 18,000 research trials looking at the relationship between meditation and depression and anxiety in a study released in March 2014 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. The researchers found 47 trials of 3,515 participants that fulfilled their requirements for well-designed studies. The findings revealed that mindful mediation methods had modest evidence of minimizing symptoms of depression and anxiety over eight weeks.
Some other research released in the journal Psychiatry Review in April 2018 showed that people with a generalized anxiety disorder who engaged in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course reduced stress markers more than a control group.
Practical Ways that Meditation Can Boost Your Mental Health
Meditation is a learned art, and understanding it is like knowing some other skills. Remember, it like sweating out a muscle you’ve never exercised out before. To get relaxed, you must practice regularly. It’s also normally less difficult if you have a coach. Now that you already know what meditation is, it’s time for you to understand how it can boost one’s mental health.
Meditation Strengthens the Brain
Meditation has been demonstrated in several studies to help alleviate the effects of stress, depression, anxiety, and even PTSD symptoms. Regular meditation, according to research conducted by Harvard scientists, has the potential to improve your brain, especially affecting the so-called “gray matter.”
The gray matter in our brain is capable of feeding energy and nutrients to neurons. Gray matter is improved by frequent therapy, which leads to a reduction in the activation of the amygdala, which is responsible for fear and distress reactions to different circumstances.
Meditation Helps You Manage Anxiety and Depression
Meditation trains the mind to concentrate on the current moment, leaving you less likely to ruminate on anxious feelings, which may exacerbate depression. Mindful meditation can help with anxiety and depression, according to a 2014 report published in JAMA Internal Medicine, and should be part of a holistic mental health care plan.
The effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), a therapeutic program that integrates mindfulness meditation, have also been supported by research. In another study, meditation has been shown to modify particular brain areas that are related to depression.
Scientists have found that in depressive individuals, the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) appears hyperactive. The mPFC is known as the “me center” since it processes information concerning yourself, such as overthinking and dwelling on the past. The mPFC seizes up when people are stressed about their lives.
Meditation Improves Self-Esteem
Meditation helps you calm down, enables for more in-depth consciousness, and can help you discover meaningful aspects of yourself. Brian Wind, a Ph.D. and Chief Clinical Officer, said, “meditation enhances self-esteem by growing self-awareness by increasing the capacity to evaluate one’s thoughts and emotions without judgment.”
According to Stanford University researchers, mindfulness therapy can aid people with social anxiety in particular. In a 2009 study published in the Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 14 individuals with social anxiety disorder took part in a two-month meditation program. They reported reduced anxiety and higher self-esteem after leaving it.
Meditation Reduces Stress
Meditation will also make you feel calmer by lowering cortisol levels, the stress hormone. The study evaluated more than 200 trials of meditation by healthy individuals in a 2013 study and discovered that meditation is an important way to relieve stress.
Throughout meditation, practicing a mantra will also help you relax. You will divert your attention away from intrusive emotions by focusing on your mantra. According to David Foley, founder of Unify Cosmos, transcendental meditation has a similar influence, in which you quietly repeat a word or sound to keep yourself centered. As a result, you will experience a state of total stillness and stability.
Observers used stress measures to assess participants’ risk of burnout, exhaustion, and stress before and during the program. Participants performed meditation twice a day for 15 to 20 minutes over four months after receiving a seven-step meditation duration. They registered lower levels of depression and exhaustion than before practicing the procedures.
Meditation Helps You Cope With Pain
Pain is inextricably tied to your mental condition. Your experience of pain is conditioned by your circumstances. On the other hand, meditation professionals were shown to have a better capacity to deal with discomfort and even a decrease in pain sensation.
Furthermore, frequent therapy was found to be highly beneficial for those suffering from stress and severe physical discomfort since it reduced the number of suicidal feelings and the painful feeling in the body.
Often physicians suggest meditative methods as part of a pain control approach. Meditation, for example, was shown to relieve pain in people suffering from post-surgical, acute, or chronic pain in a 2020 survey of over 6,400 participants across 60 trials.
Meditation is an ability that anyone can master. You, too, will learn from it and boost your overall health and emotional well-being significantly. Some forms of therapy concentrate on consciousness, self-image, and promoting a healthy perspective on life, which may assist with low self-esteem and depression.