As scientists, doctors, and researchers grapple with the medical and mental health problems of today, they are increasingly examining alternative and complementary therapies that can help combat the forces and stressors of modern life that influence health and well-being. Among these is meditation, a practice that is gaining attention for its ability to improve mental health and encourage better wellness outcomes in many people.
What is Meditation?
Practicing meditation involves sitting or lying comfortably while mindfully focusing your thoughts on either an object, thought, or activity. Meditation trains you to control your awareness and attention, which can help you to achieve mental clarity, emotional stability, and an improved mental state.
Mindfulness meditation is a form of this practice that teaches you to focus on your breathing and then bringing your attention to the present without allowing thoughts of concern or worries about the future or past encroach on your mental state.
What are the Mental Health Benefits of Meditation?
Meditation Reduces Stress
When you are meditating, your body enters a state of deep relaxation. When you learn to relax your mind as well as your physical form, you will experience a decrease in levels of stress hormones that are affecting your physical as well as mental health. Stress makes it more challenging to manage your thoughts and emotions. It also worsens mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and neuroses. Meditation gives you tools and resources for learning to cope with stress.
Meditation Can Combat Anxiety
Anxiety is a persistent worry about what has already happened or what could occur in the future. Those with anxiety and panic disorders live with elevated stress levels from this constant anxiety that can be very distracting from their daily activities.
Meditation helps you first learn to differentiate between helpful, problem-solving thoughts and nagging, unproductive ones and then enables you to see how ideas only have as much control and power as you allow them.
Meditation Makes You More Adaptable
Practicing meditation regularly helps you learn to let go and accept more in your life while being able to go with the flow of life more. This makes you more adaptable to the ever-changing circumstances of life and less likely to feel panic, fear, or mental anguish when life throws you a curve ball. Plus, when you are more adaptable, you are better able to adjust to setbacks and failures, which builds your resiliency, too.
Meditation Changes Your Brain
When researches study the brains of people who meditate regularly, they see changes in EEG patterns, blood flow, and brain activity. By meditating often, you allow your mind to activate new and different areas, and you increase the oxygen supply to your neurons. These show that meditation does not just make you feel better, but it actually improves your brain with practice.
Meditation Can Improve Psychiatric Illnesses
When it is used in conjunction with other forms of mental health treatment, mediation can be an effective strategy for improving the symptoms of many mental health disorders. Research shows improvements in therapies for depression, aggression, anxiety, addiction, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, and much more. Because it can also help relieve sleep disorders, which profoundly influence mental health, it offers many secondary or tertiary benefits, as well.
By helping you control your thoughts and their influence on your emotions and behaviors, meditation can be a powerful tool for improving your mental health. Meditation, when practiced regularly, teaches your mind to become more open and receptive to ideas and less controlled by your emotions and worries. The impact of decreased stress alone is enough to convince everyone that meditation should be a part of your daily routine. Ready for a new mental health practice? Why not give meditation a try?