Alarmingly, the World Health Organization now considers depression as the leading cause of ill-health and disability worldwide. And for a great number of the people suffering there are simple, free and non-pharmaceutical ways of managing their mental health.
Much of the research in the field of mindfulness explores the impact of thirty to forty-five minutes of meditation a day on physical and psychological wellbeing. Excitingly, in my own scientific research I discovered that just ten minutes a day of mindfulness meditation over one month was enough to support more positive emotions, reduce stress, increase self-compassion and strengthen focus in daily life.
Research shows that people who suffer from depression and negative mood states have more electrical brain activity on the right side of the brain, compared with those who have more a positive, resilient attitude in life.
When we practise worrying, the worrying circuits of the brain are reinforced. When we practise gratitude, the brain becomes more capable of noticing the good in our lives. When we practise mindfulness meditation, it forms new neural pathways that support focus, calm and emotional balance.
1. Use your breath to calm yourself down.
You breath is intimately connected to your nervous system. Use it to your advantage when you’re feeling stressed to calm yourself down by slowing your breath and extending your exhalation. This will quiet your entire nervous system, keeping you calm rather than reactive, and helping you make better decisions about what is needed.
2. Name it to tame it.
Neuroscientific research demonstrates that when we’re stressed, talking or writing about how we’re feeling helps us to calm down. As we become more mindful of difficult emotions, we reinforce neural pathways that help us remember to pause when we’re in the heat of an emotion, and use the most evolved part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, to calm ourselves down.
3. Take a ten minute holiday for your mind.
Although when we’re stressed the last thing we want to do is stop and meditate, research shows that meditating for just ten minutes can help you be more focused and effective. Give your mind a ten minute holiday and it will reward you with a powerful return on investment of greater focus, clarity and effectiveness.
– Elise Bialylew
Read more: 10 Minute Mindfulness Trick
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