How Meditation Can Improve Your Mental Health

The need to take care of our physical selves is a trend that has been hugely popular, but what about our mental health? In today’s society stress is evident in almost every part of our lives, so taking care of our mental health is a crucial component to living a healthy and happy life. Meditation can improve your mental health!

Exactly how important is this need? 18.5% percent of the population in the U.S. will experience mental illness every year. That is approximately 43.8 million people or 1 in 5 adults. One may even call that a mental health crisis.

Meditation is a practice proven to aide in one’s mental health. Many people go to meditation for relaxation and finding peace, but the practice shows to have much stronger benefits than only feeling relaxed. It can help alter your brain to handle stress in a more efficient way.

HOW MEDITATION STRENGTHENS YOUR BRAIN

A study done by Harvard researchers found that meditation could change the brain’s gray matter. Grey matter is an essential component in the brains central nervous system that gives nutrients and energy to neurons as well as processes information. Meditation increases gray matter while reducing the activity of the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with fear and anxiety. It can also affect cytokine levels. Cytokine is the chemical responses that control immune reactions, the reactions responsible for depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.

Since meditation has shown to improve these elements of the brain that mean it also improves empathy, focus, our sense of self, and our memory. In result, aiding patients that suffer from depression, anxiety disorders, autism, ADHD, schizophrenia, PTSD and even Alzheimer’s disease.

THE IMPACT OF MENTAL ILLNESS

Mental illness in America costs our country billions of dollars a year. People often treat their illness with therapy and prescription drugs. However, many times the medications do not work, or people cannot afford the care. However, mental illness is a serious problem in our country, being the third most common cause of hospitalization.

Also, the pressures being put upon today’s youth are far beyond anything before. When it comes to getting a higher education, one out of every three students that suffers from a mental health condition utilizing special needs services, drops out of school. Moreover, no one can ignore the mental health issues that challenge our veterans, with an estimated 18 to 22 veterans committing suicide every day.

Mental illness is an issue that must be addressed, and it plays such a pivotal role in living a healthy and happy life. Meditation is a fantastic tool that can be utilized to reduce these symptoms substantially and can be a great asset to improving one’s mental health.

HOW MEDITATION CAN HELP YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

Meditation improves the physical health of your brain leading to better mental health. The practice can stimulate the peripheral nervous system, which helps your body to revert to being calm after a stressful situation, and it can help you to think logically and critically. Self-awareness can also help you understand how you think, in the result, helping you to have more control over the thoughts that you dwell on. This is huge! All of our mind’s wonder causing us to worry, if we had a tool that better equipped us to train our brains to control those thoughts, wouldn’t you utilize it? Lastly, it helps the practice of living in the present moment, no more worrying about tomorrow!

There was a study done at the Community Health Center in Meriden, Connecticut that worked with people who suffered from anxiety, depression, chronic pain and hypertension. They trained these individuals in meditation for eight weeks, and they experienced a 50% reduction of their psychiatric symptoms, 44% reduction in medical symptoms, and a 70% reduction in anxiety. This is just one of dozens of studies that have proven the effectiveness of meditation for mental health.

Mindful meditation is much more valuable than simply trying to relax. It can be a key component to supporting your mental well-being and support your ability to take hold of those worrisome thoughts. Everyone takes their physical health very seriously whether they go to the gym, run, or take a yoga class, but making sure that our mental health is in top shape is equally as important. So take advantage of meditation to help you live life with a healthy body and mind.


References and more information:

Mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction: experience with a bilingual inner-city program
The Mental Health Benefits Of Meditation
Mindfulness meditation may ease anxiety, mental stress

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