Previously, the benefits of meditation were merely products of speculation. But now scientific evidence, top athletes, and the world’s most powerful people are singing its praises. From stress reduction and weight loss to increased energy and enhanced sleep, meditation could be your most powerful prescription to date. Oh, yeah, and it’s free.
Think for a moment: What bugs you out? Chances are you have no trouble coming up with a long list of your day-to-day stressors. However, each morning you wake up with an opportunity to fight them off before they have a chance to come at you. “It’s easiest to meditate in the morning before your day has started, before you’ve checked your e-mail, or done anything,” says Dr. Christopher Vincent, sports physician and CEO of Altus Sports Institute in Santa Monica, CA. If you make it a daily habit, meditating can decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and honestly make your day that much easier to get through.
Meditating for 30 minutes each day reduces stress and, as a result, helps prevent emotional eating, suggests research from UC-San Francisco. When you bring mindfulness into the equation, you’re able to rationally assess how you're feeling—whether you’re hungry or just bored—and make eating choices accordingly.
One of the best ways to fight fatigue is to take some time each day to detach yourself from all distractions. Kerry Bajaj, a certified health coach at the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City says, “Meditation is going to make you feel better because you’re disconnecting from all the stimulation of life.” Close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Just a few minutes of daily meditation will help you start to feel less rushed, more in control, and reenergized.
A single sleepless night can impair brain function, mess with your eating habits, and screw up your immune system. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, practicing relaxation techniques during the daytime, like incorporating small bouts of meditation, can improve sleep quality during the night. By regularly practicing meditation, not only will you fall asleep faster, but you will also stay asleep for longer and wake up feeling more rested overall.
A strong immune system comes from a number of things: your diet, activity levels, and sleep quality, to name a few. What many people don’t know is that meditation has the power to seriously boost immune function. A study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that meditation can increase your body's ability to ward off illness and infection. If you feel a cold coming on, or everyone in your office is passing around some wonky virus, take some extra time each morning to disconnect and build up your body’s defense.