It’s more difficult than ever to keep your mind on the present.
Rather than tolerating boredom, many of us immediately turn to our phones when we have a free second. This inability to keep our minds focused on the now might seem trivial. But, in reality, it can be costly during times in our lives when we are experiencing stress and anxiety. Meditation lets us reclaim our ability to remain in the moment, which can improve both our mental and physical health.
Here are a few of the proven benefits of meditation.
1. Reduces Stress
Stress is often one of our most overlooked health factors.
Chronic stress can ravage the body. It can disrupt sleep, cause overeating, and even lead to hair thinning. If left untreated, it can cause heart and gastrointestinal issues, among other complications. Reducing stress can have a transformative impact on our lives.
Meditation counteracts the damage caused by stress. Stress causes elevated levels of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for many of the negative effects of stress, including inflammation in the body. Studies have found mindfulness meditation, a form of meditation focused on redirecting our attention to the present moment, can reduce stress-related inflammation.
If you’ve recently dealt with stress, consider meditation to reverse some of its effects.
2. Helps with Pain Management
More than 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Individuals who cope with constant pain understand how difficult it is to perform simple daily tasks.
In recent years, many doctors have shifted away from prescribing patients opiate-based painkillers because of valid concerns over the potential for addiction. Many have sought out alternative pain management practices for patients, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, acupuncture, and physical therapy. Meditation is increasingly receiving attention as a method of pain management.
One study found meditation can increase a patient’s tolerance for those experiencing acute, short-term pain. A separate study found evidence that meditation may offer short-term relief for those suffering from lower back pain.
Before adding meditation to your pain management regime, be sure to first consult with your doctor.
3. Lowers Occurrences of Depression
Depression can dramatically impact the quality of life among those who suffer from it. An inability to enjoy activities they once did alone can make it difficult for them to find purpose in life.
Meditation can fight against anxiety and stress, which can trigger bouts of depression. Both stress and anxiety are caused by negative thought patterns about oneself and an inability to visualize a future in which conditions will improve. Mindfulness meditation can break through these negative thought patterns by training the brain to refocus on the present whenever they emerge.
4. Decreases Blood Pressure
Cardiovascular disease is one of the primary culprits for premature deaths globally. Everyone can benefit from an increased focus on their own heart health.
Taking measures to reduce our blood pressure is a powerful way of promoting long-term heart health. Elevated blood pressure forces the heart to pump faster. Over time, this can cause the heart to function improperly. High blood pressure also causes a narrowing of the arteries, which can eventually lead to heart attack or stroke.
Once again, meditation, along with an improved diet, can help lower blood pressure. Researchers have found transcendental meditation and mindfulness meditation can evoke relaxation by quieting the brain. During these periods of relaxation, patients’ blood pressure fell. The researchers also found reduced inflammation and a widening of arteries for patients in the relaxation phase.
Try it Yourself
It’s easier than ever to take up meditation. Spend some time watching meditation instruction videos online, and you’ll soon have all of the information you need to get started.