Science Backed Benefits Of Meditation
- Reduce Stress
One of the most common reasons why many people try meditation is to reduce their stress. It was concluded by a study that included 3,500 adults that meditation definitely helps to reduce stress.
Usually, increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol are caused by mental and physical stress. Cortisol creates many harmful stress effects, such as the release of cytokines, chemicals, and inflammation. Those harmful effects promote depression and anxiety, disruptive sleep, and increased blood pressure, which can result in cloudy thinking and fatigue.
A recent study conducted over eight weeks showed that the meditation style called “mindfulness meditation” produced promising results. Candidates experienced reduced amounts of inflammation response.
Another study of 1,300 individuals showed that stress can be reduced by meditation. The effects were much stronger in people with the highest levels of stress as they were self soothing with meditation and reducing stress levels.
Research has shown that stress-related condition systems can be reduced as well by meditation. So a bit of meditation can decrease irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, stress disorder, and post-traumatic stress.
There are many styles of meditation that can help with reducing stress. Individuals who have stress-related medical conditions are also able to reduce their symptoms through meditation.
- Control Anxiety
Reduced anxiety often results in less stress. For example, people who participated in an eight-week study on mindfulness meditation found that it resulted in their anxiety being reduced. Their anxiety disorder symptoms were also reduced, including obsessive-compulsive behaviors, panic attacks, paranoia, and social anxiety.
In another study of an eight-week meditation program, 18 participants were followed up on after three years. It was shown by the results that a majority of the volunteers still practiced meditation and over the long run, they had lower anxiety levels.
A much larger scale study of 2,466 participants concluded that anxiety levels can be reduced by various kinds of meditation strategies. Yoga is one example. Most likely the reduction is due to the participants benefitting from both meditation practices and physical activity.
It has also been shown by studies that meditation can help with job-related anxiety and stress coming from high-pressure work environments. It was found that a group of nurses who participated in a study experienced reduced anxiety.
When meditation is done on a regular basis, it can help to reduce anxiety as well as such anxiety-related mental health issues as social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and phobias.
- Promote Emotional Health
Some types of meditation can result in individuals having better self-images and more positive outlooks on life.
Two studies of a total of 4,600 people showed that mindful meditation can result in reduced depression.
A study of 18 individuals who were followed for three years showed that the participants experienced long-term reductions in their depression.
Inflammatory chemicals called cytokines are released due to stress and can affect a person’s mood and result in depression. Several studies were reviewed and it was shown by the results that meditation may reduce depression since it helps to reduce inflammatory chemicals.
A controlled study compared the electrical activity in the brains of people who practiced mindful meditation with those who did not. People who meditated showed changes in activities that related to areas such as optimism and positive thinking.
There are some types of meditation that may help to reduce depression and allow for a more positive outlook on life. When a meditation habit is maintained, it has been shown by research that it results in long-term benefits.
- Enhance Self-Awareness
Some forms of mediation can help you with developing a better understanding and awareness of yourself. In turn, that can help you with growing to become the best version of yourself.
One example of this is that the aim of self-inquiry mediation is to help you understand yourself better and the way you relate with others.
Other forms of mediation teach you how to notice self-deprecating or harmful thoughts. The concept here is the better awareness that you have about your thought patterns, the easier it will be to steer them in the direction of more constructive habits.
A study was conducted on 21 women who were fighting breast cancer. It was found that those who practiced tai chi had better overall self-esteem compared to those who were given social support sessions.
In a study of 40 senior women and men who participated in a mindful meditation program, it was found that they showed reduced feelings of loneliness when compared with people who were placed on the waitlist of the program.
It also has been shown that meditation makes it possible to become more creative when it comes to problem-solving.
Participating in self-inquiry mediation or other related types allows you to get to know yourself very well. When you choose mediation, it is a good starting point to help you make other positive changes as well.