Stress fills the world around us, it’s unavoidable. But it’s not uncontrollable. When looking for a way to combat every day stressors, meditation is a cost-effective, healthy place to start. It’s still overlooked even though its benefits have been studied in the West since at least the 1970s. Meditation not only reduces stress, but when done regularly, is very positive for overall health. There are many ways to practice meditation. Even though there are different techniques, the end result is much the same; stress reduction, better mental focus, improved mood, sleep routine improvement, and improved cognitive function.
Although it’s common knowledge that stress is not healthy, few know the true damage that prolonged stress can cause. High levels of stress lead to increased cortisol, which can lead to hypertension, disrupted sleep, obesity, mental or physical fatigue, heart disease, increased risk for diabetes, and more. Regular meditation reduces stress and with it, the negative effects of stress. Meditationhas even been able to help regulate stress-related ailments like irritable bowel syndrome and post-traumatic stress.
Help with Anxiety
With a reduction in stress, there is naturally a contemporaneous reduction in anxiety. Just as reducing stress, reducing anxiety has numerous physiological and psychological benefits.For people that livewith anxiety-related maladies like paranoias, fears,or panic attacks, meditationoffers significant benefits. When combined with regular physical activity, or physical meditation like yoga, thedecrease in anxiety can behuge.
A main tenet of all meditative practices is to listen to yourself. When getting more in tune and centered, the theory is that a person can grow into the best version of themselves. When listening to one’s self, a person is able to tackle personal issues and combat negative thoughts. By meditating regular and becoming aware of what’s going on internally, controlling negative thoughts becomes easier. A positive change in mental attitude can improve relationships with others as well.
Just as lifting weights builds muscle, regular meditation practice strengthens the brain. Meditation can lead to an overall sharpness when completing any tasks on hand. Meditation also improves attention span and memory. Some hypotheses even posit that practicing meditation can reverse negative mental patterns. Since meditation naturally reduces worrying, it becomes easier to focus on the things that matter.
Meditation fights Memory Loss
Although some memory loss as we age is natural, meditation can help decrease memory loss. A lot of age-related memory decline can come from a lack of preventative care. By strengthening the mind and improving focus, sleep, and overall stress, memory loss can be limited with meditation. Disrupted sleep when we age has been shown to be a risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s.
The benefits of meditative deep thinking go far beyond the mental when it comes to sleep. The mind and body are completelyconnected. Improving mental function leadsto physical improvements.A common problem for many people who suffer from insomnia is often a side-effect of a mind filledwith runaway thoughts. A calmer mind leads to less of this type of thinking. The added benefit of deep thinking is that it leads to a more relaxed body. Meditation combined with relaxation can lead to better sleep.
Meditation can also be connected to how we perceive pain. Pain is often a function of the mind’s perception of what thephysical body is feeling. Controlling your mind through meditation can help fight the negative side effects that go along with physical pain. Many pain-relief professionals, like palliative care specialists andhospice works, are beginning to see the benefits of including/combining meditation into treatment.This can be especially helpful for those with long-lasting pain. Those that master meditationcan gain a semblance of control over the negative mental effects of chronic pain.
Regularly practicing meditation has benefits that extend to every piece of the mind and body.
The relationship between a more focused mind and physical, mental, and emotional benefits arehard to deny. Deep thinking leads to a calmer daily life and a more finely tuned mind and body. The best part of all of this is that even for beginners, regular meditation leads to almost immediate results.
Written by Max Gottlieb for Senior Planning. Senior Planning is an eldercare agency, dedicated to helping seniors apply for benefits and find the care they need.