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Lately meditation has seems to have taken off, every health site going is telling people ‘you should be meditating!’. I’ve seen countless adverts for apps to help with meditation, and even owners of the Apple Watch are reminded to ‘take a breath’ for a minute each day. It seems that media at the moment is all about mindfulness and meditation, which is great. But why? You can infer from the sheer amount of apps, books and podcasts to guide meditation that it helps, but what does it help with?

It’s important to know all the ins and outs of something before you add it into your daily routine. So Psych2Go shares with you 5 benefits of Meditation.

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1) Reduces stress

Pretty straight forward really but when you’re stressed your mind is reeling. You’re agitated, fidgeting and flustered. Sometimes stress can be really debilitating and stop you from completing every day tasks. Or it could lead to anxiety. The levels of stress that we feel need to be combated with some time where your brain and body is calm and void of tension. When you meditate, the goal is to clear your mind and let go of your stresses, to keep your breathing calm and just be still. Stress creates that agitation and restlessness, so to shut down that part of your mind for 10 minutes can be really beneficial. Regular meditation can keep your stress levels down and make you feel happier.

2) Decreases any tension-related pain

Tension related pain is when your muscles or joints hurt due to retained tension. When you’re anxious or stressed you could be holding your muscles rigid, doing this for prolonged periods can cause extreme pain. Some people might also find the pain so restricting and debilitating that it prevents physical activity, sometimes to the point of becoming bedridden. It’s also common to experience pain or cramps in any of the body’s muscles. These symptoms can also be experienced as muscle spasms, twitching, ‘clamping up,’ and persistent pain. Meditating offers you the time to unfold all your muscles and release any hidden tension. Releasing the tension for prolonged periods will ease the pain and hopefully remind your muscles to untense.

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3) Improves concentration

Everyday life can get so stressful and sometimes. Because of everything on our plates, we don’t concentrate on each task to the full. Our minds are overworked and just like any organ, the brain needs time to decompress so that you can perform at 100%. Meditating gives your mind a chance to just be still and switch off for a while. Doing this regularly means overall your concentration will increase because your mind isn’t running on empty. Greater concentration is related to the increased energy meditation provides. It also trains your brain to be able to focus on tasks to the full and increases the spead your mind can process information.

4) Helps to improve your sleep

It happens to everybody, nights where your brain just won’t switch off. You can’t stop thinking about that one thing and you haven’t got the skills to control your thoughts. Nearly half the population will struggle with insomnia at some point. Becoming skilled in meditation may help you control or redirect the racing or “runaway” thoughts that often lead to insomnia. Additionally, it can help relax your body, releasing tension and placing you in a peaceful state in which you’re more likely to fall asleep. A variety of meditation techniques can help you relax and control the “runaway” thoughts that can interfere with sleep. This can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep and increase sleep quality.

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5) Lowers high blood pressure

High blood pressure can be caused by a range of things. However when stress causes high blood pressure, meditating can be a contributing factor to helping reduce it. Over time, high blood pressure makes the heart work harder to pump blood, which can lead to poor heart function. Both meditation and deep breathing are thought to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This system is engaged when the body relaxes, slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure. In part, meditation appears to control blood pressure by relaxing the nerve signals that coordinate heart function, tension in blood vessels and the “fight-or-flight” response that increases alertness in stressful situations. Blood pressure decreases not only during meditation, but also over time in individuals who meditate regularly.

What do you think?

Have you ever meditated? How did it help you? Psych2Go would love to know! Be sure to leave a comment below!

If you enjoyed this article then you may also like Meditation For Kids: An Interview with Dr. Melson or Why Therapy isn’t as Scary as it Seems

References:

Dienstmann, G. (2015). 76 Scientific Benefits of Meditation, Live and Dare. Retrieved 9th May 2018

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Written by Ash Osborne

Writer for Psych2Go, currently studying Creative Media at College. Hoping to encourage more people to talk about mental health.

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