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7 Ways Meditation Can Help Your Mental Health

Posted by on January 8, 2019 in Conscious Living, Meditation with 0 Comments

By Alycia Gordan

Meditation is a personal practice that aims to make our minds more focused. There are countless ways to meditate. Each method of meditation emphasizes on achieving some level of relaxation. With the cases of mental illnesses increasing by the minute, it is crucial to address the issues that our society is facing at such a huge scale.

Mindful meditation enables us to focus on a particular object or a certain aspect of our being. This may include concentrating on breathing, organizing our thoughts, an object in the room or helping to attain inner peace. Mindfulness allows us to become more aware of our surroundings and ourselves. Meditation helps us in feeling more motivated and allows us to overcome obstacles with vigor and calm.

In the present era, it is easy to get stressed; therefore, it is important to find peaceful moments. Meditation helps you to improve your mental health through tried and tested means. It can aid in battling stress which helps us to feel more relaxed and improve our focus.

Following is a list of 7 ways in which meditation helps our mental health.

1) Slows Down Brain Aging

Research reveals that people who have been practicing meditation exhibit signs of better brain function and preservation, as compared to people who do not meditate. Individuals who have been active advocates of the therapy show more grey matter volume in their brain as compared to non-meditators. Perhaps the population that shows the best results are young meditators who have more brain matter compared to their older counterparts.

As we age, there is a progressive volume loss. Meditation helps increase the overall brain mass as well as preservation, thereby preventing the effects of brain aging. This means that it is a powerful tool when it comes to warding off neurocognitive and neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia tests online taken by many participants revealed meditators to be the group exhibiting the least amount of neurodegeneration.

2) Reduces Mind Wandering

Mind wandering or default mode network (DMN), is associated with pondering and worrying about everything other than the present. A concept strongly linked to deep-seated unhappiness, DMN works actively when our minds are not busy thinking. Meditation helps decrease DMN activity and thus allows us to have more control of our thoughts. The calming effect of mindfulness helps the brain relax and thus prevents its subsequent escape into alternate scenarios of the past and the future. Even when there are instances where we find ourselves getting distracted, we can quickly snap out of it.

3) Helps Deal with Depression and Anxiety

Research studies reveal that meditation and mindfulness affect one another. Practicing meditation is reported to reduce symptoms of depression, pain, and anxiety. The effect of reflection is measured through a scale, and it is found to have the same effect as antidepressants. This makes meditation a direct competitor of antidepressants which not only helps reduce the symptoms of depression but also supports the brain to become fitter over time. A useful method of training your brain to become more aware and alert, meditation is excellent for managing symptoms of mental illness. Depression is a common disease presenting early signs of Alzheimer. Thus, meditation can also be used to prevent Alzheimer’s disease through overcoming depression.

4) Contributes to Changes in Volume in the Brain

Mindfulness and meditation can contribute to changes in brain structure, particularly in areas of the hippocampus. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a technique that is found to contribute to an increase in the cortical thickness of a part of the brain called the hippocampus that deals with memory and learning. It also plays a role in regulating emotions as well as self-referential processing. In addition to increases in thickness, reports also reveal a decrease in brain cell volume in a part of the brain called the amygdala. This part deals with stress, fear, and anxiety. Following meditation therapy, tests reveal structural changes in the parts of the brain that deal with our mood and overall mental well-being.

5) Improves Concentration and Focus

Attention deficiency and troubles in concentrating are common concepts these days. Meditation helps your brain to calm down and focus on things. So, it is not surprising that one of its primary benefits is improving attention and the overall thinking power. With improved concentration comes improved cognition which helps to enhance your brain’s fitness and thus the overall performance.

6) Reduces Stress

Stress is a part of daily life, and sometimes it can get relatively hard to cope with. Meditation is a known tool for reducing one's overall stress levels. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a branch of reflection that deals explicitly with this aspect of mental health. It aims to reduce one’s stress levels and interpretation, both mentally and physically. Anxiety accompanies stress and studies show that mindful meditation can be used as a tool to reduce anxiety. MBSR has also been used as a mode of treatment for many individuals dealing with social fears as it directly affects the region of the brain that deals with attention.

7) Battles Addictions

Addictions often come under the category of self-control. Despite knowing, we choose to inflict the damage caused by addiction to our mind as well as our body. Meditation affects the self-control regions of the brain and helps people who are battling addiction, to recover. Be it smoking, alcohol, drugs, or anything else, meditation promises and delivers excellent results. The greater the control you have over your mind, the better the response of your body. The main point of addiction is kicking your cravings to the curb. Practicing mindful meditation helps you to attain that by becoming stronger. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), and mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) are particularly useful ways to deal with addiction.

Meditation is an art, which is fully understood, offers many benefits. To instigate understanding of mindfulness, meditation is the key. In order to unwind and rejuvenate and deal with societal stressors better, we must learn to be in control. Studies report that children who maintain the habit of meditation show better cognition, improved performance in school and an overall happier approach to life.

Meditation is not the answer to everything, but it does harbor a lot of benefits for those who practice it on a regular basis. Take out a few minutes from your demanding routines to breathe and focus on yourselves. Pay attention to your mental health because your mental health directly affects your physical well-being.

ABOUT Alycia Gordan

Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia



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