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Meditation and Mental Health
Meditation has been recognized as a valuable tool for dealing with stress and anxiety, making it an important practice to highlight during Mental Health Month. In addition to asking for support when needed, protecting our mind and health can prevent and relieve stress. Meditation is not only a recommended practice from the mystical realm, but also from doctors and specialists who suggest it as part of emotional strategies.
According to the Mayo Clinic, meditation can give a sense of calm, peace, and balance, and its specific benefits include increased self-awareness and focus, increased imagination and creativity, improved patience and tolerance, as well as balancing heart rate, lowering blood pressure at rest, and improving the quality of sleep.
Breathing Exercises vs Meditation
A new study from Cells Reports Medicine compared meditation with cyclical sighs, a type of breathing that has been found to improve mood and physiological arousal more than mindful meditation. Faced with the challenge of addressing physical and mental health challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic, the researchers set out to find techniques that were simple and efficient. They worked with a group of 114 individuals and found that controlled breathing exercises directly influence respiratory rate, which increases vagal tone during slow expiration.
The Benefits of Cyclical Breathing
The study found that the benefits of cyclical breathing exercises were consolidated over time, meaning the more individuals practiced, the better they felt. The three breathing exercises compared were box breathing, cyclic hyperventilation with retention, and the most efficient technique, cyclical sighs. The study recommends sitting or lying down, setting a timer for five minutes, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, and continuing until the exercise is completed.
Complementing Meditation and Breathing Exercises
It’s important to note that breathing exercises eliminate none of the advantages of meditation, but are a complement to it. By combining the two, individuals are able to obtain more long-term benefits and relieve stress efficiently.
It’s important to prioritize mental health during Mental Health Month and beyond. Meditation and breathing exercises can serve as valuable tools to prevent and relieve stress. The benefits of such practices can be consolidated over time, meaning individuals can better their mental and physical health with daily practice.