I personally feel that meditating is a great way to take a break from high levels of stress or anxiety. A lot of people have this misconception that in order to reap the benefits of meditation that it would require going on some kind of extended weekend retreat. According to research from Carnegie Mellon just 25 minutes of mindful meditation for three days in row alleviates psychological stress. The findings were published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, the study looked at how whether or not mindful meditation helped people be more resistant to stress.
The study had 66 healthy individuals from 18-30 years of age take part in a 3 day experiment. One group was asked to practice breathing exercises and be mindful of their experiences throughout the study. The 2nd group during the same period 3 day training program where they were asked to critically analyze poetry to help enhance their problem solving skills.
All participants were then asked to complete stressful math and speech tasks in front of “stone-faced” evaluators. Each participant was surveyed about their stress levels after the task and gave saliva samples to measure their cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone.
The group that took part in mindful meditation reported greater tolerance to the stress put on them during the math and speech tasks. They also showed higher levels of cortisol.
What does it all mean? My take on meditation is that it is a great tool that can be used to train your mind to cope with stressful situations. Regular exercise and a good diet are also things that will undoubtedly help to deal better with more stressful situations as well. If all of these things are used together, I strongly feel that anyone will make great progress in being able to lower their stress levels.
At Mandala Integrative Medicine we offer a free mindful meditation session to anyone who schedules an appointment with me.
Dr. Shah, MD
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