Is mindfulness meditation for you? Heres some benefits.
Reduced Stress and Anxiety
Mindfulness-based interventions, such as meditation, have been shown to improve mental health, specifically in the area of stress, according to a study in the Clinical Psychology Review. When faced with a difficult or stressful moment, our bodies create cortisol, the steroid hormone responsible for regulating stress and our natural fight-or-flight response, among many other functions. Chronic stress can cause sustained and elevated levels of cortisol, which can lead to other negative effects on your health, including cardiovascular and immune systems and gut health. Meditation, which focuses on calming the mind and regulating emotion, can help to reduce chronic stress in the body and lower the risk of its side effects.
Mediation can help counter the effects of anxiety—often noted as overwhelming feelings of fear, worry and tension—by slowing down racing thoughts and regulating breathing, which calms the nervous system. Physical symptoms of anxiety can include sweating, dizziness or a rapid heart rate, caused by overthinking past or future outcomes. People with anxiety who regularly practiced meditation over the course of three years saw positive, long-term impacts on their mental health, according to a study in General Hospital Psychiatry
Meditation increases self-awareness by creating a habit of focusing on the present, allowing you to notice your thoughts as they come up, says Meyer-Tapia. Research shows that practicing meditation can help develop self-awareness, as well as improve impulse control and a person’s relationship with themselves and others.
Meditation can also help reduce the symptoms of depression through mindfulness and emotional regulation. One study observing individuals on a three-month-long yoga and meditation retreat found that participants showed significant improvements in depression after the retreat, as well as enhanced stress resilience and wellbeing
When practiced over time, meditation has the ability to change how you emotionally react to situations. Elements of meditation, which generally include mindfulness and controlled breathing, can lead to less impulsive reactions. This means instead of reacting from a heightened emotional state such as anger or panic, people who practice regular meditation may gain the ability to more successfully regulate their mood.