Hands up who feels pretty stressed out right now? Yep, we don’t blame you – and that’s because life is stressful (#SorryNotSorry). After all, it’s impossible to live a stress-free life! However, while some people let their stress get the better of them, affect their health and make them extremely unhappy, there are others who are learning how to deal with their daily stressors and not allow them to negatively affect their life. These people are using mediation. Feeling skeptical? Check out why meditation makes you happy, according to science…
What is mediation?
Many people believe that meditation is only done by Buddhist monks who live in the Tibetan mountains and take a vow of silence for the rest of their lives, or the kind of middle-aged moms who transform into yoga bunnies and spend their days drinking matcha tea. Yet, meditation does not always require you to fold your legs on top of each other, or buzz like a bee for hours on end. Meditation is actually just a time for you to become mindful of your own thoughts and feeling, and for you to take the time to become really in-tune with your body. You could do this on the subway to work, or you could do it in a yoga class. Mediation is what you make of it!
The Happiness Set Point
Many people believe that to relieve your life of stresses and strains; you need to live like those who supposedly have nothing to worry about in life – y’know, like a lottery winner. However, in 1978, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published a study that brought this intriguing through to life. Over the course of a few years, they followed the lives of lottery winners and those stuck in a hospital with spinal cord injuries – and found that there was really not a lot of difference between their happiness levels. They put this down to the fact that we all have a ‘Happiness Set Point’ which is determined by our genetics. Those who are happier will often have more activity in the front of the brain, while those who do not are less happier. When you’re Happiness Set Point is a little messed up due to outside forces, mediation can help you on your way back…
Mediation can help reset your brain
Yep, when your Happiness Set Point has had a knock-back thanks to the stressors around you, meditation can help reset your brain and reset your happiness. It’s as simple as that! In fact, Sara Lazar, a famous neuroscientist, has noted that meditating on a regular basis can actually help to thicken areas of the brain which help you deal with the stress and strain of everyday life. As if that wasn’t cool enough, meditation also helps to shrink the amygdala – which isn’t a part of your brain that you want to get to know. The amygdala controls all of the anxiety and fearfulness that you feel, so shrinking it definitely isn’t a bad thing.
It can help reduce your cortisol levels
If you’re up to date on your knowledge of cortisol, you’ll know that this hormone is the irritating little booger that causes you to feel stress – thus, higher levels of cortisol will make you feel even more stressed than usual. Yet, one study within the US National Library of Medicine showed a distinct reduction of cortisol in the brains of students’ after just four days of meditation. Four days, ladies and gents!
While many people associate meditation with happy-go-lucky hippies, meditation should actually form a huge part of everyday life – because science has proven that it makes you happier. Are you really going to argue with science? We thought not.
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