Stress, memory, addictions… The benefits of meditation for mental health

New studies have yet to highlight the positive impact of meditation on mental health and the proper functioning of the brain. The first one study coordinated by researchers from Inserm, the national institute for health and medical research, shows that meditation improves certain cognitive functions.

In the study, the volunteers were 65 or older and in good health. They were separated into 3 groups: one group meditated at least 20 minutes a day, another learned English, and in the third group, the participants did not change their habits.

Result after 18 months: people who meditated said their attention spans and emotional state improved. Their feeling of well-being had increased more than in the other groups.

In contrast, meditation did not increase gray matter volume as shown in previous studies, possibly because the experiment lasted only 18 months and meditation was not practiced long enough.

Better regulate your emotions

By reducing stress, negative emotions, and sleep disorders which tend to worsen with age, meditation improves mental health, especially that of seniors. By limiting the impact of these factors, it could also slow brain aging. However, other studies will have to confirm this.

Meditation has other beneficial psychological effects. Another one study just showed thatIt is also beneficial for addictions. Conducted by the University of Utah in the United States, with people addicted to opioids, painkillers, meditation allowed them to regain control over their addictive behaviors and to feel a sense of inner peace.

Whatever the addiction, what is difficult to manage is the “craving”, this urge that pushes to consume a substance, to eat, to drink, or to smoke… However, meditation seems to be able to reduce this irrepressible need by limiting impulsiveness, and by making it possible to better tolerate unpleasant emotions. rather than trying to suppress them and automatically react to them by consuming a substance.

How to start meditating?

You can meditate alone at home. Just settle down in a quiet place on a cushion or on a chair, try to focus on breathing and bodily sensations. You can start with quick sessions of 10 minutes. There is no point trying to control your thoughts. You just have to let them pass without dwelling on any of them, trying as much as possible to stay in the present moment.

There are many apps that can help get you started.

At first, meditation can feel boring and uncomfortable. However, you have to engage in a regular practice to feel the benefits. For therapeutic purposes, such as addictions, it is advisable to be accompanied by a health professional trained in mindfulness meditation.

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Stress, memory, addictions… The benefits of meditation for mental health

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