Once considered a bit on the counterculture fringe of the 1960s and 1970s, meditation has earned a spot in the mainstream when talking about the mental, emotional and physical health of today — helping with everything from depression and high blood pressure to sleep quality and post-traumatic stress disorder. Here are five benefits to mediation for you to sit and mull over.
Relief from the stresses of life is something everyone seeks, especially during these zany times. Harvard Medical School noted that psychological distress and fatigue skyrocketed during the pandemic. Throw in political divisiveness and social unrest, and we all could use a break. Stress reduction is one of the most common reasons people turn to meditation.
Reduced stress can translate into reduced anxiety. According to Healthline, studies have shown that meditation helped reduce anxiety in people with general anxiety disorder. On top of that, meditation may also help control job-related anxiety. Employees who used a mindfulness meditation app for eight weeks experienced improved feelings of well-being and decreased distress and job strain.
Prevention.com turned to a study from the Journal of Behavioral Medicine that found an app designed to use elements of meditation and mindfulness helped reduce cravings to snack. For 28 days, a group of overweight participants meditated for 10 minutes. At the end of the trial, they’d curbed craving-related munching by 40%.
Dealing with Pain
According to the Cleveland Clinic, meditation can help people better tolerate pain. Licensed professional clinical counselor Trisha Miller noted in the article that meditation helps people to calm down and observe sensations in the body, which helps to relax and accept discomfort. “When you meditate, you are relaxing your mind and body, and that leads to the release of endorphins or ‘feel-good’ hormones,” Miller said.
It Preserves the Brain
An article in Forbes cited a University of California Los Angeles study showing that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. Participants who’d been meditating for an average of 20 years had more gray-matter volume throughout the brain. Although older meditators still had some volume loss versus younger meditators, it wasn’t as pronounced as non-meditators.