Meditation can be effective in relieving stress

So-called mindfulness courses teach methods for reducing stress
Stress can have a big impact on our daily lives. Many people lie awake at night because they simply cannot let go of the stress of the day. Most of those affected do nothing about the harmful stress, which is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Researchers have now found that meditation learned in so-called mindfulness courses is very effective in relieving stress and anxiety and can therefore help those affected reliably.

Scientists at Georgetown University Medical Center found that meditation can successfully relieve stress and anxiety. The doctors published the results of their current study in the journal "Psychiatry Research".

Mindfulness courses teach strategies against stress
Meditation can relieve stress and anxiety. In special courses on mindfulness training, the participants learn different strategies to better control and reduce their stress, the authors explain in a press release. Participants also had a lower hormonal and inflammatory response compared to people who did not take such courses.

Medical community has been rather skeptical about meditation
Many doctors are skeptical about meditation and so-called mindfulness courses, explains author Dr. Elizabeth Hoge from Georgetown University Medical Center. In the current study, the doctor and her colleagues therefore wanted to find out whether people simply feel better after meditation or whether there are really measurable changes in the effects caused by stress. The courses during the study each lasted eight weeks and included an identical amount of class time and homework. The participants were physically healthy, but suffered from a so-called general anxiety disorder, the doctors report.

Subjects took part in one of two courses
At the mindfulness courses, the participants learned the various elements of meditation, in which there has been the most scientific evidence of an impact on existing stress, the experts explain. The other half of the participants completed stress management training with lectures on the importance of nutrition, exercise, sleep and time management. The courses lasted 2.5 hours every week.

Everyone can learn meditation
Although the roots of treatment through meditation lie in Buddhism, they do not need to be religious for treatment. It is not necessary to believe in anything specific or to sing in a foreign language in order to get success out of the treatment, explains Dr. Hoge.

Courses are designed to harden those affected against stress
The actual goal of the course is not to help participants relax in a group environment. Rather, those affected should be hardened against the occurrence of acute stress.

Subjects were deliberately exposed to stressful tasks
Before the start of the courses and immediately after completion, the researchers presented the participants with tasks that triggered a reliable stress load. These tasks included, for example, a speech in front of an audience over a period of eight minutes, say the doctors.

Meditation reduces the stress hormone ACTH
People who had learned to meditate reacted less stressed than those in the other class, the researchers report. Measurements of the stress hormone ACTH in the blood were also lower, the scientists further explain. In addition, so-called inflammatory cytokines, which are considered a general marker for inflammation, would have been reduced.

Mindfulness courses can avoid medication and psychotherapy
The results are really strong evidence that the meditation used in mindfulness classes not only makes you feel better, it also helps people be more resilient, the study authors explain. Through mindfulness courses, it is possible that those affected do not have to take any medication. Participation in psychotherapy is also avoided if necessary. (as)

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