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How meditation and mindfulness help overall mental health

What are the Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness?

Meditation, and age-old tradition that was once linked only to Buddhists and hippies, has been quickly surging in popularity over the last few years thanks to its positive links to mental health and overall wellbeing.

 If you are new to meditation and mindfulness, or simply looking for a bit more information, in this article we will break down what exactly it is, all the benefits, and how you can try it for yourself.

 

Meditation vs Mindfulness – What’s the difference?

Meditation and mindfulness are often described as the same thing.

Both are used to find inner peace, and both have great mental health and overall wellbeing benefits. However, they are slightly different, although each complement each other with mindfulness being a part of meditation.

Meditation is the wider name given to different techniques involved in reaching consciousness and concentration. There can be lots of techniques within meditation, including compassion, love, patience and mindfulness.

Mindfulness is focussing on being in the present, focussing on everything around you there and then, such as sounds, smells, how you are feeling, your breathing etc. These feelings replace your usual overpowering emotions within the mind.

 

What are the benefits of meditation and mindfulness?

From learning to deal with everyday struggles to finding focus and calm, meditation and mindfulness changes the way our brain deals with situations and feelings. 

These are the top benefits of meditation and mindfulness that can improve your mental health.

 

Decreased stress

A study in the US in 2012 discovered that those who participated in an 8-week meditation training program were able to respond to stressful situation more positively than those who were not. Another study provided evidence that mindfulness helped with approach coping to stressful situations, as opposed to avoidance.

 

Reduced Anxiety

Mindfulness allows you to gain access to resources within your mind that you previously did not have access to. Whilst mindfulness will not change the situation you are in, it will help you with the way you respond and deal with it. This in itself will help you understand your anxious feelings and allow you to deal with it in different ways.

 

Decreased Depressive Symptoms

Mindfulness and meditation has been found to help regulate emotions, giving those with depressive symptoms the ability to identify their negative emotions and accept them. This leads to better methods of copying with the management of depression.

 

Improved Academic Success

If you, or someone close to you is currently in education, mindfulness has been known to help improve academic performance thanks to its ability to help lower, and deal with, stress and anxiety, and to boost resilience.

 

How much time do I need put into meditation or mindfulness?

Research suggests that you should practice these techniques at least 4 or 5 times per week in the morning.

Starting with just 5 minutes a day is a great way to introduce this into busy lives, increasing to around 10 to 12 minutes. Consistence is the key here. Imagine it like you are going to the gym, you will not see the real benefits of inconsistently going once or twice per week.

 

How do you get started with meditation and mindfulness?

Many like to learn this practice in a guided, group environment. Classes are often available in most cities and towns.

If you would prefer to be alone, there are a number of great apps available that will guide you, such as Headspace.

To really be in the moment, you must be somewhere with few distractions where you can breathe, focus, and be present in that very moment. Turn off the TV or music.

You can perhaps be in a quiet room in your house or in the garden. It does not need to be a silent environment, you will soon learn to block out unnecessary sounds.

 

Mindfulness and meditation has proven to have overall health benefits for all, even if you are not suffering with the issues listed above. So why not try and give it a go yourself?