Meditation: The Science-Backed Antidote to Stress

3 min read
Evidence based
Psychiatrist and Sensa consultant dr. Monisha Vasa
By Monisha Vasa, MD Updated on 2024 Jan 22

Stress is a natural part of being human – it’s quite unavoidable and can stem from various areas of our lives. However, natural does not necessarily mean it’s good, right? 

Indeed, most people already know how strenuous prolonged stress is on our emotional well-being. 

Sadly, many ignore the fact that constant exposure to stress can cause a wide array of issues – it’s detrimental to both emotional and physical health.

What’s The Deal With Stress?

Temporary stress is not a bad thing – we all experience it since it’s a natural response to certain challenges or threats. Stress can be a great motivator when trying to overcome hardships at work or personal life. 

However, prolonged exposure to stress can lead to burnout, physical and mental health complications, and even premature death. 

A study conducted in 2021 has shown that stress is directly related to six leading causes of death. These are:

  • Heart diseases
  • Cancer
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Accidental injuries
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Suicide

While it sounds quite grim and worrying, don’t fret – this can be your starting point to avoid these issues! Stress can be managed, and learning how to do it is one of the vital skills that help to keep your mental well-being in order.

One of the simplest, most effective, and cheap methods to keep stress at bay is learning to regulate and make peace with your emotions. That can be achieved through regular meditation!

How Can Meditation Benefit Me?

Research has shown multiple emotional and physical benefits of daily meditation, and it’s also very beginner friendly. All you have to do is actually do it – there are no rules or strict regimes to follow. 

Moreover, there are many different types of meditation, so you can pick one that suits you the best.

While this ancient practice is used mostly for relaxation, the additional benefits it brings have only become more popular in recent years. Surely, many are already aware of the spiritual and emotional benefits of meditation, but little is talked about how this activity affects your physical well-being. 

There are numerous science-backed reasons to engage in regular meditation. Let’s see what they are.

Emotional Benefits

Meditation is often associated with relaxation and pressure relief, but there are other benefits that daily meditation can bring.

  • Boosted emotional intelligence. As people, we are complex creatures with magnificent minds. However, that complexity makes it quite difficult for most to understand themselves and their emotions. Regular meditation can teach you how to be more aware and understanding of your feelings and emotions. That leads to an improved understanding of yourself and others.
  • Better social skills. Some studies have shown that regular meditation improves our interpersonal relationships – this practice helps you become more present in the moment, which leads to building stronger bonds with others. Additionally, meditation is linked to more laughter, empathy, and being more social in general.
  • Decreased anxiety. Being under a lot of stress surely causes anxiety and even feelings of depression. Luckily, studies suggest that regular meditation can relieve anxiety by up to 40% by calming an overactive mind. Meditation also lowers the risk of developing depression, as anxiety is one of the major triggers for this condition.

Physical Benefits

However, as you already know, meditation can also provide physical health benefits.

  • Lower blood pressure. While meditation is not directly related to lower blood pressure, most experts agree that it can be helpful in addition to other treatments. Meditation tackles high blood pressure by relieving anxiety which can be the culprit of high blood pressure. 
  • Boosted immunity. Research has shown that regular meditation can increase your immune system, which helps your body fight various diseases. This practice increases electrical activity on the left side of your brain, which is responsible for your immune system. In addition, studies have shown that people who meditate regularly usually have higher counts of antibodies in their blood!
  • Decreased pain. It was discovered that there is a link between mindful meditation and pain relief! While the exact reason why meditation helps with chronic pain is yet to be found, some suggest practicing mindful meditation in addition to other treatments. Also, meditation helps relieve tense muscles, which can be the source of tension-related pain.

Here’s To Starting Over

If you’re not practicing meditation yet or have forgotten this habit, this is your sign to start adding it to your daily routine.

Stress can be seriously detrimental to your well-being, and meditation can become your tool to avoid or relieve it. There’s nothing more important than beaming physical and mental health hence, managing your stress and anxiety is the key to staying in a good mental space.

Psychiatrist and Sensa consultant dr. Monisha Vasa

Dr. Monisha Vasa is a board-certified psychiatrist and wellness consultant with a thriving private practice in Newport Beach, California. She’s actively engaged in supporting physician mental health at UC Irvine and City of Hope National Cancer Center.