5 benefits of meditation on your mental health
13 May 2020
Meditation is a wonderful practice we have all heard about, especially in the past few months, but have you tried it yet? There are many studies showing how helpful it can be.
Did you know that we can have as many as 50,000 thoughts a day? That's an awful lot, so it's no surprise that we can find it hard to de-clutter our overactive minds. This is where meditation comes in.
Practised by Buddhist monks for millennia, meditation trains the mind to develop concentration, clarity, emotional positivity and inner calm. The ancient practice is now seeing widespread adoption in the modern world, especially during these challenging times for many of us. Here's how it can make you smarter, happier and healthier.
It's easy to get distracted in today's hyper-connected world and it can be challenging to block out background noise. Meditation can help. Studies show it improves attention by teaching us how to focus and be aware of our thoughts. It also physically increases the grey matter in our brain, specifically the areas controlling emotion and response. The result? Sharper focus, memory and learning.
Stress can cause so much damage to our physical and mental health, triggering anxiety, raised blood pressure and other associated conditions. Thankfully, the relaxation response triggered by meditation can help. For example, it has been shown to reduce muscular tension, decrease blood pressure and improve heart rate, breathing and even brain waves.
A happier mind
MRI scans of the brain show that the 'fight or flight' region involved in how we respond to stress shrinks after two months of meditation. At the same time, the pre-frontal cortex that's thought to be linked to social behaviour and decision-making grows, suggesting meditation can help our mind disconnect from its centre of stress.
About 30% of adults have problems sleeping and this is often correlated with stress and an overactive mind. Meditation helps calm the mind by enabling us to focus on the present, to untangle our thoughts and gain greater clarity and control over our reactions and responses. This, in turn, helps us to sleep more soundly.
Preserves brain ageing
Studies show a link between meditation and brain ageing, suggesting that an enhancement in mental focus and flexibility from meditation can help to protect the mind from cognitive decline. Other lifestyle factors, such as diet, exercise and education are important but like any muscle, the brain needs regular exercise!
Thankfully, learning how to meditate has never been easier. If you're keen to learn, take a look at apps such as Headspace, which is a great place to start, or if you are a Member of Generali Global Health discover the resources available for you on the Member Portal.
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