10 Ways Meditation Can Improve Overall Health
Meditation is one of the oldest practices still utilized to this day, with earliest records of meditation dating back to 1500 BC. There are several kinds of meditation practices, but ultimately meditation is the conscious act of training our minds to be still and simply observe our racing thoughts rather than act on them. But physiologically, what does it actually do for us? Read on to find out.
1. Reduces stress
We’ve all experienced stress in one form or fashion. Some stressors can be motivating and healthy for us (i.e., exercise); however, most of the stress we encounter can be detrimental to our overall health and well-being if it’s long-term and uncontrolled. Meditation works to restore the body to a calm and relaxed state.
2. Helps to control anxiety
As of 2020, 6.8 million people in the United States admitted to having anxiety. Much like stress, uncontrolled anxiety can also spiral and lead to detrimental health consequences. The area of the brain that controls thinking and emotion is also the region that is believed to decrease anxiety. Researchers believe that meditation activates this region of the brain to decrease anxiety.
3. Promotes emotional health
Have you ever yelled at someone out of impulse or sent a risky text in the spur of the moment? Do you think about these moments and wish you could go back to pause before reacting or wish you could have reacted differently? By practicing meditation you have the ability to train your mind, which helps to regulate your emotions and prevent these impulsive reactions.
4. Enhances self-awareness
In this busy world with so many stimuli, it’s very easy to focus on what’s going on around us and let our intuition go unnoticed. By learning to observe the thoughts that race in our minds we are able to take a step back from the noisy stimuli in our environments and take a good look at ourselves. Thereby increasing our own internal awareness.
5. Lengthens attention span
Just like it is important to train our muscles with exercise, it’s equally important to train our brain. By practicing meditation you are ultimately creating resilience and establishing discipline in your mind. In doing so, we can lengthen our attention span.
6. May help fight addictions
If anyone has ever had an addiction, they know the discontentedness one feels at the first sign of withdrawal. This discontentedness stems from an untrained mind. Meditation therapy is utilized in recovery settings due to the profound effects it has in creating internal peace.
7. Reduces age-related memory loss
Meditation has proven to lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that has been linked to an increased risk of developing dementia. Additionally, meditation works to increase grey matter in the brain, which is protective against aging!
8. Improves sleep
When we’re stressed about the obstacles we face at work or in life, it creates less than optimal conditions to achieve a good night’s rest. As mentioned previously, cortisol is the hormone responsible for stress. Additionally, regular meditation practice increases the amount of melatonin secreted in the body, which allows us to sleep more restfully.
9. Helps control pain
Our bodies are capable of so many things, but when we’re in pain we completely shift our daily routine to accommodate easing the pain we’re in. Meditation can assist in the release of endorphins, which are natural pain relievers.
10. Decreases blood pressure
Stress plays a major role in many diseases. It can even trigger instances of high blood pressure, which can cause severe adverse health problems. Practicing meditation can increase the amount of nitric oxide in the body, which is a chemical that helps to expand blood vessels to help combat high blood pressure.
In conclusion, meditation is not only beneficial for our mental health, but it has been extensively researched and shown to produce physiological health benefits as well. I hope this article has enlightened you on the many benefits of meditation, and even inspired you to give it a try!
Learn more about meditation and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.
Written by: Madeline Edge, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern