More and more people are feeling anxious, therefore more and more people are looking for ways to relieve anxiety. One of those ways is meditation. Some people ask 'can meditation cure anxiety' and 'how does meditation help anxiety'. Well, though meditation does not cure anxiety, it can certainly help. In a previous Pocketcoach article, we discussed the relationship between meditation and anxiety. We also discussed common obstacles people face. This time, we are discussing the benefits of meditation and how they help with anxiety.

What Is Meditation?

Meditation is not a new technique. In fact, it is believed to have begun in India, around 5000 BC and was also present in China and Japan, in traditional medicinal therapies.

These days, it is common across the world and continues to grow in popularity.

There are various types of meditation, such as Loving Kindness Meditation and Mindfulness Meditation, but many others exist too.  

It doesn't matter what type of meditation you are doing, it's always about training your awareness and with practice, being able to see a new, healthy perspective. You learn to observe, without judgement.

When practising meditation, you may find the following 9 benefits start to appear and help you feel less anxious:


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1. Enhanced Self-Awareness

In general, all meditations help to increase your self-awareness. However, different, specific meditations have slightly different effects.

For example, Self-Inquiry Meditation may help you to learn and understand yourself and your thought patterns, enabling you to better adjust to life.

Mindfulness Meditation has been found to help increase participants' body awareness and in another study, it was the most significant factor that led to increased self-awareness.

This increased self-awareness may lead to an increased ability to identify and begin to understand your anxiety.

2. Reduced Stress

Meditation is also able to reduce stress.

Stress, both mental and physical, causes an increase in the levels of cortisol. This results in harmful effects on the body, such as the release of inflammation-promoting chemicals, namely cytokines.

These chemicals go on to negatively impact sleep, increase the likelihood of depression and anxiety and also contribute to fatigue.

However, meditation can help to reduce this effect. Studies have shown that meditation reduces stress for many people, including college students, anxious individuals and employees.

As meditation helps to reduce stress, this directly reduces anxiety, as we explained in a previous article, anxiety and stress are very closely linked through the fight or flight response.

3. Lengthened Attention Span

One way to think of meditation is as a workout for your mind. In the same way you lift weights, go for a run or go swimming to keep your body fit and healthy, you engage in Focused-Attention Meditation in order to keep your attention span fit and healthy.

There are many examples of this effect. Brief Mindfulness Meditation has been found to help attention switching, 6 weeks of Shamatha Quiescence Meditation saw a substantial increase of attentional focus and 8 weeks of Focused-Attention Meditation has been found to increase attentional performance of non-meditators.

One research study has found that even 4 days of meditation practice can change brain functions and improve attention.

4. Improved Sleep

Sleeping is a vital part of our day. Everybody knows it is important for our health, our attention and that if we don't get enough sleep, we can get stressed, tired and anxious easier.

Meditation can help you sleep by preventing insomnia and allowing a more relaxed sleeping process.

Research suggests meditation has a broad range of uses in relation to sleep: Yoga Meditation improves objective and subjective sleep quality in healthcare professionals, Heartfulness Meditation has been found to improve sleep in patients with chronic insomnia and Mindfulness Meditation has been found to improve sleep quality in general. Meditation of various kinds have also been suggested as preventative sleep medicine.

5. Emotional Health

The benefits of meditation also extend to your emotional health. Positive impact on self-image, mood and emotional regulation are common effects.

One study found that after 8 weeks of meditation, enhancements were made in attention, memory and mood and another found that those who meditate are less affected by adverse stimuli.

A study using Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction found that it is beneficial for general psychological health, has antidepressant and antianxiety effects and is suitable for both patients and healthy individuals.

6. Disposition To Kindness

Some types of meditation, such as Loving-Kindness Meditation, cultivate and nurture feelings of unconditional kindness and love towards oneself. Over time and with practice, this meditation, also known as Metta, allows you to extend this kindness and love externally.

Loving-kindness meditation has been shown to increase positive feelings such as love, joy, cheerfulness and others. It has also been shown to reduce self-criticism in those who are particularly vulnerable. Another study showed that it enhanced perceived social connectedness .

7. Decreased Blood Pressure

The benefits of meditation also extend to our general health. Essentially, meditation can reduce the stress on your heart and therefore your blood pressure.

As you continue to practice meditation, your blood pressure continues to drop.

A large review completed in 2008 found that the regular practice of Transcendental Meditation has the potential to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by -4.7 and 3.2 mm Hg, respectively.

A more recent review, in 2017, also found that Non-Transcendental Meditation is a promising alternative when reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

8. Able To Fight Addictions Better

In one of Pocketcoach's previous articles we discussed addiction to smoking and useful ways to quit. Some of the strategies we discussed were linked to mental discipline and cognitive restructuring, like reframing unhelpful beliefs.

When you practice meditation, you begin to develop cognitive awareness and better cognitive control.

For example, research has shown that meditation activates parts of the brain that help with addiction prevention and treatment.

Further research has shown that Mind Subtraction Meditation has a positive effect on smartphone addiction in adolescents.


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9. Able To Meditate Anywhere

There are basically no limits on where you want to meditate. Nearly every type of meditation requires no equipment.

You can also meditate for as little time as you would like. From a few minutes to 30 minutes everyday.

There are believed to be around 23 different types of meditation, and it may be the case that you don't like the first one you try. It is the same as anything else in life, practice makes perfect.

You will also find the best time of the day that works for you. In one of our previous articles, we discussed how meditation can form part of your morning routine, but alternatively, you can try it any time that works for you.

Final Notes

Meditation is accessible to everybody. It has existed for thousands of years and you can do it anywhere and anytime.

There are many benefits of meditation and all of these will help you to feel less anxious.

All you need, is a few minutes a day :)