LivingMeditation, an ally to combat anxiety

Meditation, an ally to combat anxiety

Stress and anxiety are – along with obesity and depression – among the new pandemics of the 21st century. And the worst of all is that many times they are problems that have not even been diagnosed – and therefore not treated. A specialist doctor is the one who can best help us fight these types of disorders, especially if they are serious. In those cases in which anxiety and stress fall into the mild or moderate category, we also have tools in our hands to deal with them.

Yoga – which even has an International Day proclaimed by the UN General Assembly (celebrated every June 21) – and meditation can help us to calm anxiety in general, which has a positive impact on our physical and mental health. There are already studies focused on yoga that suggest that, like other types of aerobic exercises, it manages to reduce these stress levels. The UN itself explained that it is “a healthy practice that can contribute holistically to achieving a balance between mind and body.”

For its part, there are also many studies on the benefits of meditation – closely related to yoga – that indicate that practicing it for several weeks reduces anxiety. However, there is much less research on the possible benefits that a single session can bring. And that is what a team of researchers from the Michigan Technological University (MTU) has tried to measure, who sought to improve the therapies that are carried out to deal with anxiety.

The conclusions, although it sounds a bit like a bad television commercial, is that in just one hour, conscious meditation – or mindfulness can reduce your anxiety levels and improve risk factors that directly affect the health of your heart. Indeed, as these researchers explain, the preliminary data from the study, in which fourteen people participated, suggest that a single session of meditation can benefit adults who suffer from mild to moderate anxiety at a cardiovascular and psychological level.

Straight to the heart

To measure the anxiety of the subjects, they used a tool called the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) – a questionnaire that consists of twenty-one questions and that aims to assess the severity of anxiety – and they also performed a series of cardiovascular tests to measure variations in heart rate, resting blood pressure and to carry out pulse wave analysis – which provides information on the stiffness and compliance of the artery.

The participants then underwent the mindfulness session, which included 20 minutes of introductory meditation, 30 minutes of body scan, and 10 minutes of self-guided meditation . Cardiovascular measurements were repeated immediately after and also one hour later; and a new anxiety test was carried out after a week.

That hour had a very healthy effect on these people, who showed a lower resting heart rate, as well as an improvement in blood pressure; in short, they had reduced their anxiety and improved some of the cardiovascular risk markers. Even seven days after the exercise, the group claimed that anxiety levels were lower than before the meditation session, and one of the participants even commented that, in the last ten years, he had never felt so little stressed .



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