Enjoying exercise and eating healthy food leads to a strong body and a healthy mind. But did you know that meditating and mindfulness can also contribute?
Meditation is quickly seen by many people as something floaty. From a distance, it may look that way, too. Yet many practitioners quickly notice a positive effect and therefore make meditating a daily habit. Partly because of the following scientifically proven benefits.
1. Improved concentration
Meditation is basically very simple: whenever you notice that you are thinking, bring your attention back to the here and now. This is how you train your attention span and improve your concentration. Research shows that as few as four sessions can lead to improved concentration.
2. Relieves stress
Stress is one of the most popular reasons why people give meditation a chance. Clearing your head has a relaxing effect.
And how! In a study of 1,295 adults, it became clear that meditation can reduce stress, especially in people with a lot of anxiety symptoms (1). Other research even measured a reduced inflammatory response (caused by stress) (2).
3. Less suffering from anxiety
It is clear that stress can lead to anxiety problems (3). By meditating, you lower your stress level and therefore suffer less anxiety as well. Science also supports this. For example, research from 2008 shows that mindfulness helps reduce anxiety disorders and panic attacks (4).
4. Helps to sleep better
Do you often lie in bed worrying for a long time, causing you to sleep badly? Then meditation is really for you. Of course, it is not for nothing that many sleep meditations can be found online.
In an experiment, participants were divided into two groups. One group practiced meditation, the other group did not. Afterwards, the group that practiced meditation was found to fall asleep faster and then also sleep longer than the other group (5).
5. Can alleviate depression
Meditation may also play a soothing role in people suffering from depression. Several studies have been done on this. One study with 3515 participants saw a slight reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety after several months (6). Another study (lasting as long as three years) also showed the long-term benefits of meditation for people with depression (7).
6. Less lonely
Feeling less lonely by meditating by yourself? It sounds contradictory, yet seems to be true. In a short study of just 8 weeks, in which 40 elderly people between the ages of 55 and 85 practiced mindfulness for 30 minutes a day, reduced feelings of loneliness were recorded (8).
7. Improves memory
By working on your concentration, you automatically work on improving your memory. Multiple studies show that even people with dementia see improvement by meditating regularly (9, 10).
8. Increase compassion
Some forms of meditation can increase your positive feelings toward yourself as well as others. Figures from as many as 22 studies on Kindness-based meditation clearly show that (11).
9. Relieve chronic pain
Chronic pain is often relieved through medication. But meditation may also be a solution. A large study looked at the effects of meditation on 3515 participants. It found that meditation may be associated with reduced symptoms of chronic pain (12). Other research shows that meditation can alleviate chronic pain in patients with terminal illnesses (13).
10. Reduce blood pressure
High blood pressure requires the heart to work harder to pump blood around the body. This can eventually lead to heart problems.
Meditation appears to be a possible solution to lower blood pressure. Research among 996 participants indicates this (14). After meditating on a silent mantra, blood pressure was lowered by an average of 5 points. The effects were especially great in elderly people with higher blood pressure.
11. Helps overcome addiction
By meditating regularly, you develop strong mental discipline. This discipline can help you get rid of an addiction. At least, if this study is to be believed: 19 recovering alcoholics were given training in meditation. After eight weeks, they had become better at controlling their cravings for alcohol and experienced less stress (15).
12. Stronger immune system
Meditation also seems to be able to contribute to a stronger immune system. Among other things, research from 2016 shows an increased number of CD-4 cells after practicing mindfulness meditation (16). These cells help the immune system by sending signals to other cells to tell them to destroy infections.
Try it, too!
Use this bYOU Meditation sound for meditating.