Let’s face it. We are all stressed (even if you think you aren’t, you probably are). Stress is a huge hurdle for clients in clinic, so I’m constantly looking for ways to help them overcome it. One of the well known solutions to stress reduction is meditation; and before you roll your eyes and close this window, I’ve got the science to back it up. Turns out, stress management is not the only thing meditation is good for! Interested? Read on to find out more.
1. STRESS REDUCTION
Probably the most popular reason for meditation. Turns out 30 second year medical students participated in a 4-day mindfulness meditation programme. Each participant had their cortisol (hormone released in response to stress) measured at 8am, before and after the programmes completion. The average serum cortisol levels significantly REDUCED over the course of the 4 days, suggesting mindfulness meditation may ameliorate the negative side effects of stress. Study here.
2. REDUCED ANXIETY
The standard treatment for those in a state of anxiety is to “take a deep breath”. Turns out if you do it every day over the course of 8 weeks, those with generalised anxiety disorder reported both a significant reduction in anxiety and an improvement in stress resilience, when compared to those who underwent stress management education. Study here.
3. PROMOTES EMOTIONAL HEALTH
Just 1.5 hours of meditation each week for 7 weeks saw a group of 80 cancer patients emotional wellbeing scores improve significantly from before to after the intervention. Study here.
4. IMPROVES ATTENTION SPAN
Studying got you down? 48 undergraduate students participated in either a mindfulness class or a nutrition class over the course of two weeks. Whilst working memory capacity improved in both groups (nutrition still counts), the mindfulness group excelled across all areas, suggesting 10-20 minutes of focus mediation, 4 times per week can improve our ability to focus on task orientated activities. Study here
5. MAY REDUCE AGE RELATED MEMORY LOSS
A study from UCLA found that long-term meditators had better preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. Study here.
6. IMPROVES SLEEP
49 adults who had trouble sleeping were split into two groups. 50% of the participants were taught meditation techniques, whilst the remainder went through a sleep education program. Those in the mindfulness group had less insomnia, fatigue, and depression at the end of the six sessions. Study here.
7. MAY HELP MANAGE ADDICTIONS
One study compared mindfulness training against the American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking (FFS) program, and found that people who learned mindfulness were more likely to have quit smoking by the end of the training, and at 17 weeks follow-up, than those in the conventional treatment. So interesting, no?!
8. MAY HELP CONTROL PAIN
By practicing mindfulness and meditation you can reduce your pain. A total of 109 patients found that mindfulness meditation contributes positively to pain management and can exert clinically relevant effects on several important dimensions in patients with long-lasting chronic pain. Study here.
9. REDUCE BLOOD PRESSURE
And before you sign off and tell me meditation is not for you, meditation techniques appear to produce small yet meaningful reductions in blood pressure. This requires more research, but every little bit helps! Study here.
Turns out practicing mindfullness isn’t as woo-woo as some may have first thought. Do you meditate? Interested in learning how to meditate? Tomorrow I list my favourite meditation apps for beginners.