Meditation practiced daily for a few minutes with the intention of being more “mindful” (i.e., attentive to and accepting of the present moment), is an excellent method for reducing mental strain. However, its actual strength much exceeds your expectations. The benefits of mindfulness meditation for mental health issues including depression and anxiety are so well-documented that some doctors are prescribing it as a first line of treatment before turning to medication.
See how you can improve your mental health through meditation.
How does meditation work? Exploring the mind
The autonomic nervous system regulates involuntary responses in the body like blood pressure, and habitual meditators have been shown to have greater attention control and breathing control as a result. Cortisol, a hormone implicated in the stress response, is found to be much lower in meditators compared to non-meditators.
Several brain areas involved in cognitive control and emotion-related processing were found to exhibit improved functional connectivity after practicing focused attention meditation, according to a recent meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies. The review also revealed that the brain merits improved with more practice, with more experienced meditators showing increased activation of brain regions engaged in both cognitive and emotional processes.
In addition to protecting against age-related disease and cognitive decline, regular meditation practice may also prevent the thinning of the cerebral cortex that occurs naturally with age.
Mental health benefits from meditation.
Several studies have shown that regular meditation practice can improve mental health with the help of a psychiatrist. Here are a few examples:
1. Dealing with Depression
Loss of interest in daily activities and persistent unhappiness are hallmarks of depression, which can have devastating effects on a person’s relationships, career, and health. Depression persists after treatment with talk therapy, dietary adjustments, and medication.
Although meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, the advantages of mindfulness practice for depression have just recently been researched. In particular, mindfulness-based therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for a wide range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and stress, according to a study published in Clinical Psychology Review.
2. Better memory retention
Age-related memory loss is a common consequence of the steady deterioration in brain function. Researchers have found that regular mindfulness meditation improves brain function and slows memory decline in the elderly. Indeed, studies have shown that people with early-stage dementia or other cognitive impairments can benefit from frequent 20-minute meditation sessions to improve memory and brain function. In addition to helping with concentration and recall, meditation also makes the mind sharper and more attentive.
3. Improved quality of sleep
One of the most alluring bodily benefits of mindfulness meditation is improved sleep. Those who meditate regularly have greater sleep quality and duration than those who don’t. For other meditators, falling asleep isn’t the issue because meditation is so calming.
4. Managing Addiction, Food Cravings, and Emotional Overeating
The same mechanism underlies addiction to drugs, alcohol, food, or any other so-called “drug”; the brain releases reward chemicals (like dopamine) when the demand is satisfied. The brain quickly develops a chronic urge to experience the pleasure associated with the elevated dopamine after the first time.
Mindfulness meditation engages the region of the brain associated with food desires, according to studies. Additionally, some of the best doctors found that meditative practices often resulted in a rapid reduction of appetite.
5. Managing Social Anxiety
It’s possible for social anxiety to disrupt a person’s professional and academic lives. For those who suffer from a paralyzing dread of being evaluated by others, social isolation and loneliness are inevitable outcomes.
Mindfulness meditation’s positive effects on anxiety and inward focus have led to claims that it can boost self-assurance and improve communication skills, both of which can help those struggling with social anxiety. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, found that individuals with a social anxiety disorder who practiced mindfulness-based stress reduction saw improvements in both their anxiety and depression symptoms after just eight weeks of treatment. And it was also indicative of a rise in confidence.
6. Chronic Pain
According to the results of a 2017 meta-analysis and systematic review of the effects of mindfulness meditation on chronic pain, it appears that meditation is not the most effective analgesia. While the pain itself can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life, it’s not the only thing that might come as a result of living with chronic pain. However, mindfulness meditation was found to be helpful in reducing the severity of these issues, if not the pain itself.
7. Treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is another type of anxiety-related disorder that can have serious and disabling consequences on a person’s everyday life. People with OCD are constantly looking for a treatment or “cure” that would help them overcome their obsessions and compulsions and lead a more normal, stress-free life.
People seeking help for obsessive-compulsive disorders often hear that meditation might help them teach their brains to focus and restore calm. The scientific benefits of incorporating meditation into existing OCD treatments are still being investigated, but the first findings seem promising.
Mindfulness-based programs may be more accessible and come with fewer side effects than prescription drugs. However, many people find success with a mix of medicine and psychotherapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy. With all its possible benefits, meditation is definitely something to try. Thus, if you want to enjoy the positive effects of meditation on your mental health, you should book an appointment with the best psychiatrist in Lahore.
1. Does meditation change your behavior?
The meditators were less likely to try to avoid stressful situations. When compared to a control group that did not meditate, they also experienced more happiness. Increased receptivity to new information may influence one’s motivation to stick with the meditation practice, as suggested by the research.
2. Can everyone gain benefits from meditation?
Anyone can benefit from regular meditation practice. Like learning to ride a bike, all it takes is a little practice to get the hang of it. Practicing meditation regularly takes determination and dedication, but it pays off in the end.
3. Can you reset your brain with meditation?
Recent studies have shown that regular meditation practice can increase grey matter volume and density in specific brain regions in as little as eight weeks.