Six ways that meditation can improve mental health
Meditation is a great tool to improve quality of life. Meditative techniques provide many physical and psychological benefits that can aid with managing stress. These practices can be especially useful for those who struggle with drug addiction and mental health disorders.
Meditation is a skill that can be practiced and perfected by anyone. Learning to sit still, relax and breathe is a lot easier said than done. With the array of challenges that normal everyday life can throw at someone, learning how to relax and take a step in the right direction can make a huge difference.
The mental benefits of meditation
Here are a few reasons to consider implementing meditation into one’s daily routine:
- Meditation lowers stress – Research from a study conducted at the University of California, Davis Center for Mind and Brain has shown a direct correlation between mindful meditation and decreased levels of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. Meditation can also reduce symptoms of anxiety and fatigue.
- It boosts self-awareness – Practicing meditation helps individuals objectively analyze his or her self. This facilitates the ability to be introspective without being hindered by insecurities or self-criticism. A study in Psychological Sciences found that meditation helped individuals overcome “blind spots,” that is, character flaws that prevent individuals from developing self-awareness. The researchers stated that “one who overestimates the positivity of his or her personality or status is often disliked by others, whereas having insight into how others perceive the self and acknowledging one’s flaws seems to attenuate the negativity of others’ impressions.”
- Causes protective changes in the brain – In a study conducted at the University of Oregon, researchers found that body-mind training can actually cause changes in the human brain that can help protect against mental health disorders. Practicing meditation was linked to increases in protective tissue and “axonal density,” or increased signaling connections within the brain.
- It can help with academics – In a study conducted at the University of California, Santa Barbara, researchers found that college students who practiced meditation showed improvements in working memory and scored higher on a verbal reason section of the Graduate Records Examination (GRE). Researchers concluded that meditation is “an effective and efficient technique for improving cognitive function.”
- Promotes emotional balance – Utilizing meditation can be very helpful in managing neurotic and unhealthy behavior. By taking a relaxed and objective approach to personal issues, those practicing meditation can properly target these types of undesirable behaviors and find more efficient means to correct them.
- Improves sleep quality – A study performed at the University of Utah found that people who practiced mindfulness could better control their emotions and were also able to sleep better at night. Holly Rau, a researcher in the study, stated that demonstrating higher levels of mindfulness was “associated with lower activation levels at bedtime, which could have benefits for sleep quality.”
Meditation is one of numerous tools to improve mental health. By learning to practice and gradually master meditation, people can learn to better control their emotions and ultimately exhibit better behavior and take steps towards living a healthier lifestyle.
Meditation can serve as a valuable resource to supplement traditional methods of mental health treatment. However treatment programs for mental health disorders are still helpful and often necessary for those dealing with issues like depression, anxiety etc.
Sovereign Health Group is among the leading mental health treatment centers in the country and offers a variety of inpatient and outpatient treatment programs for patients who struggle with mental health disorders, drug addiction and dual diagnosis. If you know someone who is struggling with a mental health disorder and are in need of treatment, please contact us at 888-530-4614. One of our treatment specialists will assist you in finding the right treatment option.
Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer