How Does Meditation Reduce Anxiety at a Neural Level?
Amy Au·January 13, 2022
Anxiety has an impact on your body and can make you mentally exhausted. Some research showed that you would reduce your anxiety and stress with simple mindfulness practices. Anxiety is a cognitive state connected to an inability to regulate your emotional responses to perceived threats. Mindfulness meditation strengthens a person’s cognitive ability to regulate emotions. Meditation does help manage anxiety, depression, and pain, according to some studies. Meditation can be done anywhere you want and free your mind from thinking. Meditation can be as easy as finding a sliver of space and opening an app. There are tools like the desktop Japanese Zen Garden if you need some peace and serenity at work or even at home.
How does mindfulness meditation reduce anxiety at a neural level?
Mindfulness meditation has long been known as an antidote for anxiety. However, the brain mechanisms involved in meditation-related anxiety relief were unknown.
Mindfulness and meditation for anxiety is a growing field that can help you navigate the many ways that anxiety can affect your life.
For the study, the researchers recruited fifteen healthy volunteers with normal levels of everyday anxiety. All subjects participated in four 20-minute classes to learn a technique known as mindfulness meditation. In this form of meditation, people are taught to focus on breath and body sensations and to non-judgmentally evaluate distracting thoughts and emotions.
The focus of mindfulness meditation is to train the brain to stay in the moment. To do this, practitioners are taught to let go of the regrets of the past as well as anxieties about the future.
Activation of the anterior cingulate cortex—the area that governs thinking and emotion—is the primary region believed to influence a decrease in anxiety. These findings provide evidence that mindfulness meditation attenuates anxiety through mechanisms involved in the regulation of self-referential thought processes. Brain imaging found that meditation-related anxiety relief was associated with activation of the anterior cingulate cortex, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and anterior insula. These areas of the brain are involved with executive function and the control of worrying. Meditation-related activation of these three regions was directly linked to anxiety relief.
Mindfulness and Loving-Kindness Meditation Are Complementary
There are many different types of meditation. In general, neuroscientists have been studying the benefits of both mindfulness meditation, in which you focus on sustaining attention and guiding thoughts; and loving-kindness meditation, in which you focus on compassionate thoughts towards yourself and others. Both types of meditation have been proven to change brain structure and have dramatic physical and psychological benefits.
With diseases like breast cancer, meditation is not used as a treatment for the disease. It's supportive care designed to help a person deal with the stress that comes with cancer. Research shows that meditation can significantly reduce anxiety in patients with generalized anxiety and depression disorders. Mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation are secular.
In addition, the meta-analysis found little evidence that meditation programs could help treat substance abuse, sleep or weight issues.
This showed that just a few minutes of mindfulness meditation can help reduce normal everyday anxiety. But the researchers concluded that meditation has no harmful side effects. And it's free and something people can easily do at home. Here are some lists to do Mindfulness meditation to ease your anxiety and calm your mind.
1. Set an Intention -setting an intention can help you focus and remind you why you are doing something.
2. Do a guided meditation -Online and apps programs that can help you as a guide.
3. Doodle -let your mind take a break and
4. Go for a walk -Pay attention to the sounds around you, the feel of the wind against your skin, and the smells around you.
5. Wish for someone to be happy - Be happy with someone's happiness and wish for them.
6. Look Up -Let the cosmos remind you that life is bigger than your worries or inbox.
7. Brew on it - If you have time, sip your tea without distraction. Don’t like tea? You can practice while making rich, aromatic, French-pressed coffee.
8. One thing at a time -Set a timer for five minutes and give one task your full and undivided attention.
9. Leave your phone behind -Take a moment for yourself and your needs in the bathroom. Your phone will still be there when you’re done.
10. Take a break from Household tasks -Instead of obsessing over your to-do list or clutter, let yourself relax into the moment.
11. Journal -Try a gratitude journal or jot down the three best things that happened today.
12. Pause at stoplights -Instead of rushing, bring your focus inward at every stoplight. While you wait, sit upright and still and take four slow, deep breaths.
13. Take a break from all Social Media accounts -Social media has its uses but it can also contribute to your anxiety and interrupt your productivity. You’ll be amazed at how often you check your social media accounts without thinking.
14. Checkout -Always trying to be mindful during every moment can actually add to anxiety and stress.
Our minds have the ability to remain still. By applying analysis, we can achieve a higher understanding with the help of focus concentration.
Practicing mindfulness often can help you calm your mind and move past negative emotions.
Try to take at least five minutes each day to check-in and do a meditation or mindfulness exercise that you enjoy.