Meditation Really Does Lower Your Body’s Stress
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Meditation may help the body respond to stressful situations, according to a new study that took a rigorous look at how the practice affects people’s physiology when they’re under pressure.
In the study, people with anxiety disorder took an eight-week course in mindfulness meditation, in which they learned to focus on the present moment and accept difficult thoughts or feelings. The researchers found that, after completing the course, these participants showed reduced levels of stress hormones and markers of inflammation during a stressful event, compared with how their bodies reacted before the course.
Importantly, the study also involved a comparison group of people who took a course in stress management that did not involve meditation. These participants did not show a similar reduction in their levels of stress hormones and markers of inflammation after their course, according to the findings.
“Mindfulness meditation training is a relatively inexpensive and low-stigma treatment approach, and these findings strengthen the case that it can improve resilience to stress,” study researcher Dr. Elizabeth A. Hoge, an associate professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC, said in a statement.
Finally, The scientists noted that future studies should look at the effect of meditation on “real-life” stress, rather than stress created during a lab experiment.