You’ve probably heard a lot about meditation already, some might even dismiss it as a trend. However it’s far from it, and several studies have found that people of all ages have much to gain from regular meditation practice. Not only can it help with several mental health disorders, but it can also have benefits for your physical health too, perhaps in ways you mightn’t even have thought of…
Meditation helps lower anxiety and stress in teens
Meditation has been found to reduce levels of cortisol, which is the hormone responsible for stress, which, as we’ll see later in this article, can also lead to physical responses such as increased blood pressure. Regular meditation practice helps reduce the impact of negative or intrusive thoughts on the mind, instead training us to focus on the present. This can help to reduce feelings of anxiety in the mind and body, which undoubtedly has benefits for people of all ages, not least pre-teens, and teens.
Meditation can help treat depression and OCD in teens
As anxiety causes us to become more self-aware and focus on the present, it reduces the likelihood of us ruminating on troubling, depressing, or obsessive thoughts, which can plague teens and pre-teens as much as anyone. Even when such thoughts do occur, by regularly practising meditation we train our minds to note them as just that, thoughts. This makes it easier for us to let go and move on from the thoughts, rather than have them ‘stick’ and cause us to ruminate.
Meditation increases compassion and empathy
The regular practice of meditation has been found to strengthen the centres of the brain associated with compassion, thus increasing levels of empathy and kindness in people. This includes both compassion towards themselves and others. It does so by making us more aware of our shared pain and experience.
Meditation can improve focus and performance in academia, sport, work, and other areas
It has been proven that meditation helps increase the focus centres of the brain, and even reduce one’s tendency to ‘drift off’ and mind wander, by increasing their attention span. This has great benefits for teens studying for exams or trying to focus on a task at work. It has been found to increase one’s memory capacity, and even reduce the impact of memory loss as people age. It also has benefits for those seeking to improve their performance in sports or artistic outlets.
Meditation helps us to become more present and aware
Practising meditation trains us to become more present and aware of our surroundings, and ourselves. By becoming more aware of what is going on around us, we become less ‘lost in our heads and start to view everything through a wider, less judgemental, lens.
Meditation can help people manage cravings and addiction
Meditation helps assist teens to overcome cravings for food and drink, even those who are addicted to certain substances. Meditation trains the mind to recognise thoughts and cravings for what they are; regular practice helps people resist the need to act on their cravings and impulses and to let them go. As mentioned earlier, it can also help to reduce overall levels of stress and anxiety, which sometimes fuel people’s cravings and addictions.
Meditation can help your heart
Studies have proven that meditation can have positive effects on your heart too. Meditation can lower your heart rate and improve blood circulation. We talked earlier about how meditation reduces cortisol. Cortisol releases cytokines, inflammatory chemicals which can increase blood pressure. So by reducing cortisol levels, meditation can actually help lower your blood pressure too.
Meditation can improve our sleep and treat insomnia
Sleep quality can be improved by meditation. Its impact in reducing stress and anxiety helps to contribute to a relaxed state of mind more conducive to good sleep. It reduces our tendency to ruminate on distressing thoughts and can help the body to ‘switch off’ when it comes to bedtime.
Meditation can even be used to help manage pain
When used in conjunction with physical therapy and other care, meditation has been found to be effective in helping people cope with pain. The brain processes how we perceive pain, and mediation can help reduce the overall sensation the pain triggers in our brain.
As you can see, meditation has many benefits for people of all ages, including teenagers, whether you are seeking help in managing a mental health issue, or are simply looking to improve your focus in school or on a sport. There are helpful apps and video tutorials out there, some of which are free, so there’s no reason not to try it out.