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Therapists Explain 6 Ways To Calm A Stressed Partner

Therapists Explain 6 Ways To Calm A Stressed Partner


Everyone can get stressed out, and it can be challenging to know what to do when your partner winds up in a stressful situation. If they have unhealthy or less-than-ideal coping mechanisms, it can be even tougher to understand how to help them.

Of course, with your heart going out to your partner, you wouldn’t want them to experience this emotional pain. But how can you help them out of that place without further exacerbating the problem?

Here’s how experts recommend six ways to calm a stressed partner.

1.    Find The Root

Where is your partner’s stress coming from? Why is it causing them to behave this way? No one ever wants to be stressed, so something is causing this to happen, says author and Professor Emerita of Psychological and Brain Sciences Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., ABPP.

Think back to your partner’s day or current life circumstances and consider what may be causing this stress. Here are some questions to help you in the process:

  • How has their day been?
  • Are their relationships with others, such as family or friends, going well?
  • Are they affected by world events?
  • Have they talked about anything stressful to you?
  • What seems to have triggered their stress?
  • Do they have patterns of becoming stressed in certain circumstances?

When you find the root of stress, you’ll be able to respond better to it and help your partner work through it.

2.    Listen To Your Partner

Unless your partner says, they genuinely don’t want to talk about the source of their stress, sometimes lending them an ear can help them feel better. Author and licensed clinical social worker Judy Ford outlines some steps to do this:

·         Step 1: Recognize Stress Symptoms

Take note of the way your partner begins to behave when stress mounts. Do they exhibit specific behaviors? They might, for example, get fidgety, snap more often, stress eat, or become withdrawn. When you see these symptoms of stress, you can make your approach.

·         Step 2: Approach

If your partner is exhibiting their stress symptoms, try to approach them with no judgment. Have compassion, kindness, and positive thinking when you go to them. Then, ask them how they feel and invite them to talk to you about it, maintaining a welcome tone of voice.

·         Step 3: Listen

When your partner talks about their stress to you, you need to genuinely and honestly listen to them. This will show your partner that you genuinely care for them. Active listening is a critical skill and can make the difference between a positive and negative response from your partner.

·         Step 4: When You Speak, Default To Comfort First

Most people who talk about their emotions will want to be comforted, not provided with solutions right away. First, offer comfort and give them physical or emotional support. Only after that should you ask if they’d like to find a way through the stressful situation with your help.

3.    Be Supportive, Always

When a partner opens up to you, you need to make sure they feel validated. They are vulnerable to you, so it’s only natural that you do your best to accommodate their emotions and show them how you appreciate their openness. Here are some tips for being supportive:

·         Being Patient

Your partner doesn’t want to be stressed out, and they certainly don’t want that stress to affect you. If they come to you and speak in a positive and productive way about something that involves you, resist the urge to default to defensiveness. Be patient and listen instead, so keep calm, recommends Whitbourne.

·         Ask How You Can Help

It’s essential to ask your partner how you can support them, says Ford. Even if you can’t directly help, ask how you can make things go more smoothly for them or how you could help them feel better. You can offer to do some extra chores, help them run an errand, give them a massage, cook them dinner. The possibilities go on and on!

·         Give Them Space If They Need It

Some people need to be alone when they’re stressed out. Don’t take it personally – it’s not about you at all; it’s about someone’s healthy need for me-time. Give your partner the personal space to do their own thing and unwind without your input, suggests Psychotherapist Edie Stark, MSc, LCSW. You’ll be surprised how supportive of action this can be to them and how much it may boost their positive thinking! Just make sure you talk about their needs for space and alone time first.

4.    Understand Insecurity Scientifically

Before you can even begin to calm down a stressed partner, you need to understand insecurity as a scientific concept. This doesn’t refer to typical “insecurity” in the commonly portrayed, obvious sense, but more to insecure attachment and insecure defensiveness. Many times, stress is the result of something partially influenced by insecurity. If you’re not careful, you can trigger an escalation of the situation by not knowing how to manage that insecurity.

According to research, a partner’s stress can spiral out of control when they protect themselves from mental distress. This can trigger immature insecure mechanisms that are important to respond to in a positive way to prevent a worsening situation. A person who is using these mechanisms may:

  • Very heavily fear abandonment.
  • Become defensive or passive-aggressive
  • Respress their feelings
  • Desire reassurance but feel invalidated by your current response.
  • Experience reality distortion
  • Feel too overwhelmed to react positively

Partners who experience severe insecurity may benefit from therapy or counseling services, and it’s worth broaching the subject with them if these harmful attachment patterns are becoming extremely prevalent in your relationship. If they happen too often, it can be toxic and cause the relationship to end.

5.    Try Working Through It Together

As a couple, you are meant to work through hurdles and problems hand-in-hand. You are meant to be there for each other through thick and thin. Coping with issues as a couple is referred to as dyadic coping, and it has substantial positive effects on the health and strength of a relationship.

This is why Assistant Professor of Communication, writer, researcher, and family relationship expert Elizabeth Dorrance Hall, Ph.D. recommends handling stress in the following ways:

·         Learn To Turn To Each Other

When you experience stress, learn to trust your partner and go to them first. Could you encourage them to do likewise? Over time, you will both get better at responding to each other’s stress and will learn to trust each other with the details of your plight naturally. Of course, be aware of emotional bandwidth, too. Communicate clearly about your emotional boundaries when turning to each other!

·         Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to clarify your partner’s position. If there’s something you don’t understand, ask them about their perspective. Make sure you’re being non-judgmental and be clear that you’re asking because you want to understand them, not because you disbelieve them.

·         Brainstorm With Each Other

When your partner experiences stress, learn to put your heads together. Discuss options, allowing your partner to lead the discussion, and help them organize their thoughts so they can make their own independent judgments, decisions, and conclusions. Your goal is not to push your thoughts onto them, but to help your partner process their feelings and ideas.

·         Offer Your Perspective

Once you’re in brainstorming mode together, offer your perspective of the situation. You may have a less dramatic viewpoint because you’re separated from the emotions your partner is experiencing, or you might have some additional insight or unique opinion. Don’t push your partner to incorporate your perspective – show them alternative options they may not have considered.

·         Support Their Strengths

Appreciate your partner’s strengths and your strengths. See how you can cover for each other and complement each other to find the best solutions!

6.    Learn From This

The point of life is to keep improving based on life experiences. As a couple, you can both learn and grow from moments of stress and become stronger for it. If you don’t learn from the event, you and your partner may end up stuck in a cycle of stress that you never learn to handle better. Here are some ways to make sure you and your partner have learned from this episode of stress:

·         Think Of How To Better Handle This In The Future

What can you learn from this episode of stress? How can you prepare for this in the event it happens again? What triggers do you both need to be aware of? What have you learned works best for both of you, and what doesn’t work at all? When you think of these questions, you’ll be learning and growing together from experience and will be better equipped to face it next time with more positive thinking.

·         Explain Your Point Of View

If your partner’s stress led to them lashing out at you or exhibiting toxic behaviors, you need to tell them about it. After you’ve worked through the worst of the stress, open up communication regarding this with them, suggests Whitbourne. You want to talk about how their defense mechanisms hurt you or made you feel and recommend more mature or positive methods of coping for the future. Remember, don’t be accusatory – focus on explaining yourself productively and with kindness.

·         Understand Your Own Thresholds And Boundaries

Your partner’s pain can, in turn, affect your emotional energy. If you let yourself be drained instead of stepping away when you need to, you’re doing no one any favors. Ford recommends learning to gauge your stress levels, so you know when you need a break and need your support. Be sure to speak to your partner about this. Remember, it’s unreasonable for any expectations to involve a partner being there for the other at their own severe mental detriment. You can’t help each other if you start suffering, too.

Final Thoughts On Some Ways To Calm A Stressed Partner

Stress is a part of life. Your partner will end up feeling stressed out multiple times throughout their life, as will you. Learn to help your partner through their stressful times and learn to rely on them during your own. This will ultimately build your bond and make your relationship stronger!

Lifestyle

12 Ways to Stay Calm During Relationship Struggles

12 Ways to Stay Calm During Relationship Struggles


Relationship struggles happen with every couple from time to time, but they don’t have to make your relationship spiral out of control. It’s important to stay calm during conflict so that both people hear each other out and come to a compromise. You might think that never fighting points to a healthy relationship, but experts say the opposite is true.

One study found that over 14 years, couples who argued often had the least likelihood of getting separated. The study followed 79 couples across the Midwest and found that the healthiest couples clashed and reconciled immediately afterward. So, don’t think that arguing a lot signals a strained relationship. It may strengthen your bond, depending on how you react after the argument.

Here are 12 ways to stay calm during relationship struggles:

Below, we’ll go over a few easy tips for remaining calm amid a disagreement. Remember, arguing is normal, and how you respond to your partner makes all the difference.

1 – Don’t expect perfection.

Many good, solid relationships fail because of unrealistic expectations. By expecting perfection from your partner, you never give them the freedom to make mistakes. They won’t feel comfortable in the relationship because of the impossible standards you’ve set for them. When you have relationship struggles, remember that both of you likely contributed to the problem.

This way, no one will get all the blame for the issues, and you can talk openly about your feelings. Of course, if you did nothing wrong, you have nothing to feel sorry for. If it was indeed on your partner, remember that they’re only human and likely didn’t purposely hurt you.

2 – Listen first, respond after.

Sadly, many people react without actually listening to someone’s point of view. However, make sure to stay calm and give your partner the chance to talk. You will learn more this way and perhaps understand why they reacted a certain way. Listening makes up a massive part of a successful relationship. Studies have shown that those who actively listen have better relationships.

What is active listening, exactly? It usually consists of the following:

  • Put away your cellphone or any other distractions.
  • Maintain eye contact with your partner
  • Restate or summarize what they’ve said for clarity
  • Acknowledge that you’re listening by saying “Mmm-hmm” or “yeah” occasionally.
  • Have empathy and understanding for your partner.
  • Most importantly, listen to understand wholly, not to reply.

3 – Try to remember you’re a team.

Don’t look at your partner as the enemy; instead, look at the problem you face as the real opponent. In relationship struggles, it’s easy to blame your partner for everything. However, this won’t get you any closer to solving the issue at hand. For any problem you face, you’ll want to stay calm and actively brainstorm on a resolution together.

4 – Keep in mind that every relationship has ups and downs.

Don’t get discouraged when you and your partner have disagreements; these will come up in any healthy relationship. Life does not come complete with an instruction manual. Indeed, you’ll face tons of challenges along the way. However, learning how to tackle problems as they arise helps you become stronger as a couple.

Of course, if a relationship goes through more bad times than good, you may want to reevaluate where you stand with them. Perhaps they haven’t been pulling their weight or have an overly negative attitude. As long as you work together and put in equal effort, you can get through anything.

5 – Don’t say anything you’ll regret later.

In the heat of the exchange, you may get a case of word vomit and say a few things you don’t mean. It happens from time to time. But if you wish to smooth things over easier, try to take a few breaths before you speak. Nothing good comes from anger, including lashing out at your partner during a disagreement.

Take time to formulate a response before you say anything because this can prevent a lot of heartaches and hurt feelings.

6 – Walk away for a few minutes to stay calm.

If taking a few breaths doesn’t work, you may need to walk away and get some fresh air. Or even revisit the topic later that day or the next day if you need to. Never put yourself in a situation where you don’t think you will have control over your response or reaction. This will only cause hurt to your partner and perhaps damage your relationship in the long-term.

7 – Put yourself in your partner’s shoes.

Sometimes, the best way to overcome relationship struggles involves a hearty dose of empathy. If you want to resolve a problem, try to get inside your partner’s head. Where are they coming from? What can you learn from their side of the story?

You always want to approach relationship struggles as a team rather than you vs. them. You will only cause more strife and turbulence by trying to get your way or discarding their feelings.

For example, if your partner didn’t come home in time for dinner, they probably have a perfectly reasonable explanation. They may have gotten tied up at work or had a flat tire. Make sure to hear them out and get their side of the story before you react.

8 – Remember the positives of your relationship.

Many people ruin a perfectly good relationship by focusing too much on the negatives. In fact, according to the Gottman Institute, contempt in marriage is one of the most significant predictors of divorce. An excerpt from an article on the book’s website states:

“After watching thousands of couples argue in his lab, he was able to identify specific negative communication patterns that predict divorce. He called them The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and they are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

Contempt is the most destructive of The Four Horsemen because it conveys, “I’m better than you. I don’t respect you.” It’s so destructive that couples who are contemptuous of each other are more likely to suffer from infectious illness than couples who are not scornful of each other. The target of contempt feels despised and worthless.”

However, even if you have a pattern of talking down to each other, you can always reverse this behavior. Relationship struggles can take a toll on a couple, but you can overcome them by recalling positive aspects of your relationship. Think back to when you first met and remember why you love your partner. If you can revive the fondness and admiration, you feel for each other. You’ll approach problems as a team.

9 – Put your partner’s happiness first.

Sadly, many people look to others to fill a void within their hearts, but this can quickly drain the other person. Of course, you should have a partner who makes you happy, but your relationship shouldn’t be primarily self-serving. In other words, you should want to make them feel fulfilled and put their needs first. If you both can do that for each other, you’ll have a higher chance of a successful relationship.

People who only think about their personal needs often end up jumping from one relationship to another. If you want a relationship, it takes a lot of sacrifice and selflessness to make it work. Sometimes, you must be willing to put aside your desires to make your partner happy.

10 – Practice mindfulness.

To stay calm during relationship struggles, you should remain mindful and present. Don’t recall old arguments and mistakes, and hold them over your partner’s head. This will only add more fuel and fan the fire and make your partner resentful or unwilling to discuss things with you. Tackling only the problem at hand makes it easier to smooth things over, and you’ll have the mental focus necessary to do so.

11 – Be open to being wrong sometimes.

You can’t be right all the time, especially in a relationship that requires humbleness and vulnerability. If you want a successful partnership, you’ll have to have an open mind and admit when you’re wrong at times. Focusing more on overcoming the issue instead of having to be right will ensure success in the problem getting solved.

12 – Don’t make assumptions about your partner.

Your partner may not be giving 100% lately, which makes you feel resentful and neglected. However, try to put yourself in their shoes– don’t assume they don’t care about you. Maybe they have a lot going on in their life, and asking them about it opens the floor for a heartfelt discussion. Not sure what’s on your their mind? Ask them–their inattentive behavior might be an outcry for help.

Final thoughts on how to stay calm in relationship struggles

Every relationship goes through phases, and it won’t always feel like the best time of your life. Anyone in a long-term relationship knows it takes enormous sacrifice and understanding to make things work. However, if you can apply some of the tips we’ve listed above, you can get through any relationship struggles that arise.

Lifestyle

Psychology Explains How a Calm Mind Helps You Make Better Decisions

Psychology Explains How a Calm Mind Helps You Make Better


Any decision we make sets in motion the wheels of karma, which either rewards or punishes us for our actions. The universe simply responds to our state of consciousness and the choices we make from that frequency. So it makes sense to have a calm mind when making decisions.

The universe has no fixed agenda. Once you make any decision, it works around that decision. There is no right or wrong, only a series of possibilities that shift with each thought, feeling, and action that you experience.” – Deepak Chopra

The universe may seem like a chaotic, random cluster of energy and events. But within that tumultuous energy lies order. By clearing the clutter from our minds, we can choose a path that will result in better outcomes for ourselves. Scientists and researchers have studied meditation for decades now. They discover time and again the many health benefits that can arise from the ancient practice.

People who regularly practice meditation tend to have a calmer disposition. This calm mind means they can hear their intuition much more clearly. Our intuition helps us make decisions, and if it becomes clouded by a restless mind, we might make a less than desirable choice.

“If you obsess over whether you are making the right decision, you are basically assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another.

Below, we’ll go over how exactly meditation can help you increase the positive outcomes in your own life.

Here’s how a calm mind helps you make better decisions:

1 – It allows you to focus on the present moment.

Unfortunately, many people make decisions based on circumstances that happened in the past or perceived outcomes in the future. However, since we can only really live in the present, we must make decisions according to the here and now. Studies have shown that people make better decisions when practicing mindfulness meditation.

Researchers find that just a few minutes of this type of meditation can ground you in the present tense, which will help you have a calm mind. In turn, you’ll make better decisions because you can gain clarity on the situation and choices at hand.

In one study, researchers found that just 15 minutes of focused breathing meditation can help people make better decisions. Researchers from INSEAD and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania tested the hypothesis that mindfulness meditation could boost decision-making skills by increasing resistance to the sunk-cost bias. This thinking explains our tendency to continue investing in a losing proposition due to how much time, money, or energy we’ve already spent on it.

If you’ve watched a movie to the end despite not enjoying it, continued investing in a failing business, or stayed in a toxic relationship, you have experienced this whether you knew it at the time or not. Of course, these scenarios don’t seem rational, but humans don’t like to admit they’ve wasted time or energy on something.

The expert explains the link between a calm mind and making good decisions.

Andrew Hafenbrack, along with co-authors Zoe Kinias and Sigal Barsade, performed four different studies to test their hypothesis about the link between meditation and better decisions. Ultimately, they found that mindfulness meditation can effectively break the cycle of investing resources into something that no longer produced viable outcomes.

“Most people have trouble admitting they were wrong when their initial decisions lead to undesirable outcomes,” says lead author Andrew Hafenbrack. Adding, “They don’t want to feel wasteful or that their initial investment was a loss. Ironically, this kind of thinking often causes people to waste or lose more resources in an attempt to regain their initial investment or try to ‘break even.’”

For the study, one group of participants listened to a 15-minute guided meditation that told them to focus on the sensation of their breath. The other group listened to a recording that instructed them to think of whatever came to their mind. Then, researchers told both groups to decide according to various sunk cost scenarios.

The researchers discovered that mindfulness meditation, which helps people focus on the present moment and block out everything else, can help people make better decisions.

“We found that a brief period of mindfulness meditation can encourage people to make more rational decisions by considering the information available in the present moment while ignoring some of the other concerns that typically exacerbate the ‘sunk cost bias,’” explains Hafenbrack.

Mindfulness meditation increased resistance to the sunk cost bias in each experiment in two different ways.

Other researches agree

Zoe Kinias explains, “First, meditation reduced how much people focused on the past and future, and this psychological shift led to less negative emotion. The reduced negative emotion then facilitated their ability to let go of sunk costs.”

Sigal Barsade concluded, “This tool is very practical. Our findings hold great promise for research on how mindfulness can influence emotions and behavior, and how employees can use it to feel and perform better.”

So, if you find that you have trouble making decisions, try a quick guided meditation to dispel doubts and clear your mind of the constant chatter.

2 – It helps you tap into your intuition.

To make any sort of decision, you need to know what you desire in life. Most people have no idea what direction to go or what to strive for. That’s because they haven’t gotten in touch with their soul. If you want to access the deepest parts of yourself, you will have to quiet the mind and go into the heart. That introspection requires concentration and a deep longing for higher knowledge.

Many people refer to intuition as the “sixth sense.”

If you’ve ever had this gut feeling to take a different route home from work and discovered later that a bad wreck occurred on your usual route, you know the power of intuition.

Or, perhaps your intuition told you someone had bad intentions with you. Then, later on, you confirmed these suspicions. If used correctly and developed, our intuition can help us navigate the storms of life and make better decisions.

Meditation can serve as an excellent tool to develop intuition. According to a team of University of Iowa researchers, the brain’s “axis of intuition” is located in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). A 2014 Wake Forest University study analyzed the brains of 15 volunteers before and after just four days of mindfulness training. They found that in addition to brain functioning, the meditators seriously increased their vmPFC’s “activity” and “interconnectivity.” If these changes occurred after just four days, imagine how much you can develop your intuition after months or years of meditating!

By silencing the mind and focusing on the breath, we all have the potential to develop our intuition so we can make better, more informed decisions. We have unique purposes in life, and our intuition helps us steer our minds in the right direction.

 3 – A calm mind eases emotional reactivity, which can help you make better decisions.

Everyone knows that in a highly reactive, emotionally charged state, the right decisions seldom happen. Our emotions can serve as a powerful tool to make decisions. But if we only go by how we feel, we have the potential to cause devastating choices. For example, in a period of loneliness, we might go back to our toxic ex just because they feel familiar. However, if we had stopped to analyze the repercussions of this decision, we would know that getting back with that person would only lead to more problems.

Researchers from Michigan State University (MSU)  found neural evidence that mindfulness helps people control negative emotions. The team of psychology researchers, led by Yanli Lin, an MSU graduate student, found 68 females who had never practiced mindfulness meditation before participating in the study. Researchers found that the participants came into the study with various levels of natural mindfulness.

The participants then engaged in one of two 18-minute activities. Researchers gave one group a guided meditation to listen to, and the other a language-learning presentation. Afterward, researchers showed both groups disturbing images, such as a bloody corpse. They were instructed to view the photos either “mindfully” or “naturally,” and completed a questionnaire afterward.

The study found that whether the participants had high or low levels of natural mindfulness, the brain could control negative emotions to the same degree. The meditating group recovered more quickly, however, after looking at the photos, which suggests that meditation helps calm negative emotions.

Final thoughts about how a calm mind helps you make better decisions

Having a clear and calm mind can help you make better decisions in three ways:

  • by keeping your attention on the present
  • helping you tap into your intuition
  • and easing negative emotions.

So learn to look at the world with an objective, rational, and calm mind. Indeed, you can quickly discern between a good and bad choice. If you haven’t begun a meditation practice, we encourage you to get started with one! Even 15 to 30 minutes a day can make a huge difference in your mindset and consciousness.

Lifestyle

8 Ways Meditation Rewires Your Brain and Helps You Stay Calm

8 Ways Meditation Rewires Your Brain and Helps You Stay


Millions of people today have taken up the practice of meditation due to its ability to rewire the brain and promote calm feelings in the mind and body. This practice offers a wide range of benefits from easing depression to helping with weight loss. Therefore, meditation can transform the lives of everyone who practices it in some way.

Many people look forward to vacations or time off of work. Indeed, this break gives them a chance to rest their weary minds. However, you don’t need to travel or spend any money to get the solace you seek. Search within, and you can find everything you’ve been looking for.

During meditation, you can detach from the mental chatter and emotional states. You learn how to connect with the soul. Those who delve deep in meditation can quiet all of the senses and experience a peace that most of us couldn’t even fathom. However, everyone can access this realm of pure tranquility by using willpower, concentration, and dedication.

We all can create either chaos or peace in our lives with the power of our minds.

Our thoughts create our realities, so we get to choose what we experience on a minute by minute basis.

Meditation allows us a path back to ourselves. We came from love and peace. Thus, we must find our way back to this place within ourselves. Meditation can rewire your brain and change your thinking patterns, and the best part is, anyone can do it free of charge in their own home.

“To understand the immeasurable, the mind must be extraordinarily quiet, still.”  ~Jiddu Krishnamurti

meditation

Here are eight ways meditation rewires your brain and helps you remain calm:

1 – Meditation lowers your heart rate and stress levels.

In a study from Stanford University, participants who completed an eight-week mindfulness meditation course had more significant activity in areas of the prefrontal cortex that regulate emotions. In turn, this helped lower their stress levels. Another five-year study asked 201 patients with coronary heart disease to engage in transcendental meditation, which involves repeating a sound or mantra, for 15 minutes per day. The meditators had a 48% lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and death following this meditation program. Their blood pressure and stress levels also decreased.

2 – Meditation preserves the brain.

One study from UCLA found that long-term meditators had less brain decay as they age. Participants who’d practiced meditation for around 20 years had more grey matter volume throughout the brain.

The older meditators still showed some volume loss in the brain, but the non-meditators’ brains had much more noticeable signs of aging. Study author Florian Kurth said that the research team didn’t expect to see such distinct effects from meditating, but they observed widespread changes throughout the brain.

gratitude

3 – Meditation reduces activity in the brain’s “me” center.

One study from Yale University found that mindfulness meditation reduces activity in the default mode network (DMN), the area of the brain that causes disorganized, chaotic thoughts. The DMN becomes activated when our minds don’t have anything specific on which we should focus. And unfortunately, our thoughts tend to become cynical when left to their own devices. Our monkey minds often focus on the negative because biology wired our brains to scan for threats in our environment.

In our modern world, however, this innate characteristic can lead to ruminating about the past or future, worrying about bills, etc. Meditation can help to quiet this area of the brain so that we can focus on one task and activity at a time.

Meditation causes new synapses to form in the brain so that when the mind does wander, the meditator can easily come back to the present moment.

4 – It helps reduce depression symptoms.

A review study at Johns Hopkins looked at how meditation can reduce symptoms of depression in people who practice it regularly. Researcher Madhav Goyal and his team found that meditation had an effect size of 0.3. That number may sound low, but antidepressants have the same effect size.

“A lot of people have this idea that meditation means sitting down and doing nothing,” says Goyal. “But that’s not true. Meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness, and different meditation programs approach this in different ways.”

Meditation isn’t a magic bullet for depression, as no treatment is, but it’s one of the tools that may help manage symptoms.

5 – Meditation can lead to increased thickness in the brain.

In 2011, Sara Lazar and her team at Harvard found that eight weeks of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) increased cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which aids in learning and memory. Areas of the brain responsible for emotion regulation and self-referential processing also showed increased thickness. The team found decreases in brain cell volume in the amygdala, which makes us feel fear, anxiety, or stress.

These changes matched the participants’ accounts of their stress levels, which shows that meditation can alter the perception of our emotions as well as areas of the brain responsible for regulating them.

So, not only can meditation improve learning and memory, but it can help reduce unwanted negative feelings, thus enhancing our quality of life in general.

womens brains work better

7 – It improves concentration and attention.

In our world of constant distractions, it doesn’t come as a surprise that many people have trouble concentrating on one task at a time nowadays. However, meditation gives us the tools we need to retrain our brains to focus. One study found that in just two weeks of meditation training, people scored higher on the verbal reasoning section of the GRE. The average increase in score was a whopping 16 percentile points.

Meditation involves concentration and focuses on achieving desired results, so this carries over into the “real world” as well. Better concentration and attention can improve job performance, test scores at school, and even conversation and listening skills.

7 – Meditation lowers both generalized anxiety and social anxiety.

Anxiety seems pervasive in almost every area of the world today. In our fast-paced culture, this just seems to occur as an unfortunate side effect. However, the meditation we mentioned previously called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), can help to lower stress and anxiety levels. Research shows that mindfulness meditation can help reduce anxiety symptoms due to the decrease in rumination and reduced activity in the “me” center of the brain. Mindfulness meditation can even help with a social anxiety disorder. A Stanford University team found that MBSR led to changes in areas of the brain governing attention. In this way, meditation helps to calm self-destructive thoughts so that socializing and being out in public doesn’t seem as overwhelming.

8 – Meditation can help to fight addiction.

A growing number of studies have shown that meditation can help people recover from addiction due to the increase in self-control one experiences after regular practice. One study, for example, compared mindfulness training to the American Lung Association’s freedom from smoking (FFS) program. They found that people who learned mindfulness had a much higher chance of quitting smoking by the end of the training, as well as at 17 weeks follow-up than those in the FFS program.

Researchers believe that meditation may help people control their cravings better. Thus, they can simply watch the waves of thought pass by without reacting to them. In other words, they can simply observe their desire without having to give into it. However, some different types of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, might be necessary as a supplement in some cases.

meditateFinal thoughts on how meditation can rewire your brain and help you stay calm

Meditation offers us such a powerful tool to rewire our brains and help us remain calm even amid chaos. Meditation helps reduce depression and anxiety symptoms, fight addiction, improve concentration and attention, decrease social anxiety symptoms, and reduce aging in the brain.

It also lowers heart rate and stress, leads to increased thickness in the brain, and reduces rumination and negative thinking. Meditation offers mental and emotional benefits. Plus, it can improve our physical health as well.

This shutdown offers all of us an excellent opportunity to slow down, go within ourselves, and start up a regular meditation practice. We all have incredible power within us to assert more self-control and achieve a better balance in our lives.

If you haven’t started a meditation practice of your own, just make sure to find a quiet area that you feel comfortable in. Also, try using crystals, calming music, incense, or whatever else adds to your experience and gets you into a zen state of mind.

Even if you can only spend 10 or 15 minutes before work meditating, that is fine. This time spent can change your mindset for the rest of the day. It can seem daunting at first to just sit alone with your thoughts. But once you start feeling and seeing the results, it will make it easier to incorporate into your daily life.