Benefits of mindfulness-based approaches to stress and anxiety (evidence and research)
Oct 12, 2020
Thousands of scientific studies have been conducted in recent years into the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation in terms of enhancing mental and physical wellbeing. Some of these are listed below.
- Increased ability to deal with pain – Clinical trials show that mindfulness is at least as effective as prescription painkillers, can dramatically reduce the emotional reaction to pain and also enhances the body’s natural healing systems. Journal of Neuro- science (2011)
- Improved immune system – People who practice mindfulness meditation have been found to be better able to ward off infectious disease and develop serious illnesses far less often than non-meditators. Psychosomatic Medicine (2003), Perspectives on Psychological Science (2011), Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2010 )
- Better able to deal with stress & anxiety – exhaustion, stress and irritability have all been shown to decrease dramatically with regular meditation. This obviously has implications in terms of enabling people to relax and sleep more easily. Journal of Clinical Psychology (2008)
- Elevated functioning – Mindfulness meditation has been widely shown to increase ability to focus and concentrate with corresponding improvements in memory, creativity & productivity. Mental Health, Religion & Culture (1999)
- Increased happiness – Research using brain imaging shows that parts of the brain associated with happiness actually change when people meditate. Networks linked with happiness, empathy and compassion become stronger and more active while those relating to anxiety, stress and general unhappiness appear to weaken and dissolve. Biological Psychology (2004)
- Reduced depression - Mindfulness has been found to be at least as good as drugs or counselling for the treatment of clinical-level depression. Structured mindfulness-based programs are now recommended as effective treatments by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Psychology and Psychotherapy (2007)
- Longer life – Researchers analysing elderly people who were introduced to meditation late in life have found them to show numerous beneficial changes and ultimately found they lived longer on average than patients in the control group. Blood pressure, vision and hearing were all found to improve with meditation and subjects have been found to have a biological age up to 27 years younger than their chronological age. Aging is thought to be 10% genetic and 90% lifestyle and even small lifestyle changes can add to the lifespan of most people. Having a mechanism to shed stress has been found of high importance in longevity hotspots around the world. Journal of Neuroscience (1982), Journal of Personality & Social Psychology (1996), Dan Buettner, ‘The Blue Zones’
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