admin - July 9, 2013
While meditation has been known to have a calming effect on mental and emotional health, one new study has found that meditation has a definitive impact on certain regions of the brain. Specifically, medication impacts activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, a brain region that controls thinking and emotions, and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a region that control worry. Using mindfulness meditation (nonjudgmental awareness of thoughts and emotions) increases activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and decreases activity in the anterior cingulate cortex.
The study was published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience and included 15 participants with normal levels of everyday anxiety and no history of anxiety disorders. All of the participants had never used meditation before. Each individual underwent brain scans to track brain activity at the start of the study, when they also had their anxiety levels measured. They then participated in classes to learn how to do mindfulness meditation.
After taking four 20-minute classes, researchers measured the participants’ anxiety levels once more through brain scans. Results showed that anxiety levels decreased by 39 percent after the meditation training. This decrease was directly linked to the activation and deactivation of brain certain brain regions.
“These findings provide evidence that mindfulness meditation [lessens] anxiety through mechanisms involved in the regulation of self-referential thought processes,” the researchers wrote in the study according to a Huffington Post article.
Anxiety and Your Health
While anxiety may not seem like it impacts our physical health in a major way, it can. Constant anxiety and worry can increase the stress hormone that our bodies produce, called cortisol, which can inevitably lead to increased inflammation throughout the body. This can cause pain and lead to bigger health problems due to lessened immune response.
Taking care of your mental and emotional health is just as important as taking care of your physical health because they all coincide with one another. Take preventive action to reduce any anxiety you are dealing with your life by learning more about meditation and other ways to stay mentally healthy.
Learn more about how Life Line Screening can help you take a proactive approach to your health through preventive health screenings. If you’d like to receive more information like this, sign up for our email newsletter today.