Meditation can help you feel more balanced and connected. It can also improve sleep, decrease blood pressure and reduce anxiety.
Regular meditation can also lower pain levels by boosting activity in brain centers that control emotions and pain. This may help to ease chronic conditions like fibromyalgia, IBS and stress-related illnesses.
Whether you’re struggling with insomnia or another sleep disorder, meditation can help improve your quality of sleep. It can balance your hormones, including melatonin which helps you fall asleep, and it can reduce stress levels, which can interfere with sleep.
Meditation can lower your blood pressure, which can lower the strain on your heart and blood vessels. It also helps you learn to manage anxiety and feel less stressed and overwhelmed by everyday situations.
A study a few years ago found that people with trouble sleeping who did daily meditations for 20 minutes each day fell asleep more easily at night and were more likely to wake up during the night feeling rested. These improvements in sleep could be due to structural changes in the brain caused by meditation. Several studies show that people who meditate regularly have different brain structures than those who don’t. This includes denser areas of the brain and bigger connections between neurons.
Meditation produces a relaxation response in the body that counteracts the harmful effects of stress. Stress can weaken your immune system, lead to high blood pressure and cause inflammation, but meditation can help you regain control of your emotions and lower your stress levels.
Studies show that meditation helps you to better manage pain by learning to observe sensations without reacting to them emotionally or trying to force yourself not to feel the pain. This can improve your ability to cope with pain and reduce reliance on medications.
Research shows that regular meditation can decrease your pain threshold by causing the brain to release feel-good hormones that act as natural painkillers. It can also help you relax your mind and body, which can alleviate the pain caused by tension.
Lowers Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can double your risk of stroke or heart attack, and while there are many pharmaceutical and physical ways to lower it, meditation can also help. Research has shown that different types of meditation can help to reduce blood pressure by relaxing the nerve signals that work with tension in blood vessels and coordinating heart functions. It can also activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a calm state and decreases the “fight or flight” response that heightens heart rate and blood pressure.
A study by Harvard’s Benson-Henry Institute found that adults who had pre-hypertension (blood pressure slightly above the level at which medication is generally prescribed) and who participated in a mindfulness behavior program experienced more favourable changes in their health status than those who didn’t participate in the program. The mindfulness program included weekly group sessions and daily practice of meditation, body awareness and gentle yoga. It was found that those who participated in the mindfulness program had better diet, exercise and sedentary behaviours than those who did not participate.
For those who struggle with anxiety, regular meditation can help. One study found that people who took part in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program experienced fewer symptoms of anxiety, such as muscle tension and a racing heartbeat. They also showed lower levels of depression.
This could be because meditation calms the autonomic nervous system, which regulates involuntary physiological functions such as heart rate and blood pressure. Meditation can also help reduce anxiety by de-activating the default mode network, or DMN, which is responsible for mind-wandering thoughts that can cause fear and anxiety.
Another type of meditation, called body scanning, involves tensing and then relaxing muscle groups throughout the body to release tension. It can be useful for those who have trouble sitting still or are too restless to meditate in a traditional form. Just make sure to talk to a mental health professional before trying a new treatment, especially if you have existing anxiety or other mental illnesses.