How Meditation Effects Mental Health


Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, this was a difficult world, one filled with tension, stress and a lack of self-care. Now, however, things have only declined. These are very stressful days, and all of us are now trying new ways to relax, unwind and adjust to the new world we live in. However, if there is any positive about the pandemic, it has given many of us time to potentially better practice self-care. Indeed, a critical component of self-care can be the regular utilization of meditation.

What is Meditation?


Meditation involves the use of one of several techniques that are designed to slow your mind, calm your body and help you achieve reduced stress and inner peace. It is a practice that has been around for centuries and has helped millions of people live a better, more productive and more healthy life.

It’s also important to note that this practice is just that – a practice. No one ever becomes good at something the first time they ever do it, and regular meditative practice is required in order to feel its impact. Fortunately, that can be done relatively easily, and there is ample evidence to indicate that regular practice can have a series of health benefits.

How Can Meditation Help With Stress Relief?


Again, the evidence is clear: Regular practice can help you reduce stress.

Stress is often triggered by a misfiring of your body’s “flight or fight” response. This system comes from a long history of human evolution and is designed to assist you in running away or fighting off a threat. Unfortunately, over time, our bodies have adapted that response as a result of emotionally stressful events, not just threats to our bodies. This can result in a significant amount of anxiety and ultimately morph into one of any number of anxiety disorders.

Fortunately, regular practicing has been shown to help control stress and provide significant stress relief. This practice can help slow your breathing and your heart rate, allowing your body to control cortisol levels and help your body learn how to soothe itself. Furthermore, this practice can help you all your mind, ruminate less and better choose what you want to focus on. All of this, of course, can be very helpful in providing you with stress reduction.

How Can Meditation Help With Mental Health Disorders?


A variety of studies have all examined the impact of this practice on mental illness, and again, the results are clear: Regular practice can help you dramatically improve your mental health.

For example, a 2013 study examined the specific impact of regular practice and generalized anxiety disorders. 93 people were given a specific meditative-based eight week course. When compared to a control group, the group that was given the eight week course showed greater reductions in anxiety levels. A 2012 study found similar results.

This isn’t the only mental illness that can be improved via regular meditative practices. Other studies have examined the link between this practice and depression, and again, the results have been clear. This practice helps depression because it helps to control thinking and teaches your brain how to better relax and calmly think its way out of a potential problem. It can also help to manage your response to negative thoughts.

Again, studies have found that regular meditative practices can reduce depression. For example, a 2016 study found that this practice can reduce depression when folded into standard depression treatment that utilized cognitive behavioral therapy. A 2017 study also found that this practice can be even more beneficial to depression than exercise.

Who To Call if You Need Further Help


This practice can be an incredible tool and a huge asset in helping you defeat mental illness. However, sometimes, additional help is needed. If you are suffering from a mental illness, or looking to talk to someone about your mental health, please reach out to The Becoming Counseling today. You don’t have to live a life filled with pain and sorrow. We can help you deal with your emotional challenges and find ways to help you reduce stress.

Wes Cain, LPCA, NCC, IHC



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