But as science goes, a little meditative respite (aka downtime) is just what your brain needs in order to de-stress, calm and refresh your mindset. In fact, research from Carnegie Mellon University and published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology was the first to reveal that practising mindfulness meditation — 25 minutes for 3 consecutive days — can alleviate psychological stress.
“More and more people report using meditation practices for stress reduction, but we know very little about how much you need to do for stress reduction and health benefits,” said lead author J. David Creswell.
The study involved 66 healthy individuals aged 18-30 years old taking part in a three-day experiment. It involved some of the participants taking a brief mindfulness meditation training program for 25 minutes for three days. They were given breathing exercises to help people focus on being able to live life in the present moment. The second group of participants underwent a three-day cognitive training program, in which they were asked to analyse poetry to help improve their problem-solving skills.
The next step was for the participants to complete strenuous speech and math tasks in front of evaluators. Each individual was asked about their stress levels during the speech and math performance stress tasks, as well as providing saliva samples for measurement of cortisol (the hormone related to stress).
What did they find? The participants who were given the mindfulness meditation training reported reduced stress levels during the speech and math tasks, signifying that mindfulness meditation is effective in reducing psychological stress.
“When you initially learn mindfulness mediation practices, you have to cognitively work at it — especially during a stressful task,” said Creswell. “And, these active cognitive efforts may result in the task feeling less stressful, but they may also have physiological costs with higher cortisol production.”
So if you’re looking for that single-cure to be happier and healthier, then mindfulness meditation might be for you.
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