Updated: Aug 31, 2020
A little stress every now and then is not something to be too concerned about, but when we are under persistent, chronic stress - such as the kind that comes with living through a global pandemic - our mental and physical health may suffer. Luckily for us, mindfulness meditation has been shown to have numerous health benefits to the mind and body, which can come in extra-handy during these stressful Covid-times. It is a science-backed, portable and adjustable, self-care practice that we can draw on at any time when we need to. Some benefits that may be helpful at this time include:
1. Reduces stress – Studies show that mindfulness meditation is a good self-care practice for stress relief and prevention - so that when challenging situations occur we can remain calm, grounded, and in control. During mindfulness meditation, we learn how to train our attention to stay more connected to the present moment, and is so doing, we learn how to work wisely with stressful situations, better manage our emotions, and cultivate the ability to respond skillfully rather than react impulsively to everyday challenges.
2. Helps with anxiety and depression - Chronic stressful life situations can increase the risk of developing depression and anxiety if you aren't coping with the stress well. Research shows that mindfulness can be helpful in reducing the intensity and frequency of symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. One study even found that mindfulness training was as effective as antidepressant medications in preventing depression relapse. A regular practice can help your brain better manage stress and anxiety that can trigger depression.
3. Boosts immunity - The body’s stress response systems are intimately connected to the immune system, and studies show that chronic stress can weaken our immune system. According to a large body of evidence, meditation appears to have significant positive effects on immune function in health and disease because of its ability to reduce stress. Meditation creates a positive mental environment for the immune system to flourish.
4. Supports quality sleep - When we are under stress, our sleep is often disturbed, but the good news is that studies show that mindfulness meditation can help improve sleep and fight insomnia. A recently published study into mindfulness and sleep quality included 49 middle-aged and older adults who had trouble sleeping. Those who practiced mindfulness exhibited less insomnia, fatigue, and depression when compared to the other group who completed a general sleep education class.
It is important to note that mindfulness is not a cure-all, or panacea, for all of our health concerns and daily worries. We should think of it as a complementary self-care practice that can be used alongside other healthy lifestyle activities that help us take care of our mind and body. Stress will always be a part of life, but that doesn't mean that we have to live stressed out. Mindfulness can help.
(c) Caribbean Mindfulness Institute
If you'd like to learn how to live a calmer, stronger, less stressed-out life, be sure to sign-up for our upcoming online workshop Learn to Meditate - Modern Mindfulness for a Busy Life. To learn more and to register please visit: https://www.caribbeanmbsr.com/classes-workshops