Stress Awareness Month: The Benefits of Meditation for Chronically Ill Patients
The practice of meditation as an adjunct therapy in chronic disease management is becoming widely popular, and with good reason.
Studies show that meditation’s effects can positively impact physical and psychological symptoms related to chronic illness, including reduced levels of anxiety, stress, and depression. Additionally, meditation can help enhance mood and self-esteem in chronic disease patients.
A recent independent study review on mindfulness found that mindfulness meditation can contribute positively to chronic pain management and suggested that meditation helped decrease short and long-term pain intensity.
Watch Video: The Benefits of Meditation for Chronically Ill Patients
People have been meditating for thousands of years, and although it started as a spiritual practice, meditation is now a popular complementary mind-body therapy that produces deep states of relaxation and helps control stress and anxiety.
The enhanced physical and emotional well-being obtained from meditation stems from the fact that meditation trains your brain to be more focused and present, which contributes to reducing the number of negative thoughts that often crowd our minds.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditating regularly can provide many physical and emotional benefits, including:
- Gaining a new perspective on your chronic illness
- Increasing your ability to manage your stress
- Reducing negative emotions
- Eases anxiety, depression, and stress
- Promotes better quality of sleep
- It can help boost your energy levels
- Improves cognitive function and mood
- Helps lower inflammation
- Increases your pain threshold
- It trains you to focus on the present moment and not live in the past or worry about the future
- Lowers your blood pressure
- Relaxes your body and your mind
How Meditation Can Help Manage Chronic Disease
Meditation is helpful for patients living with chronic diseases whose symptoms may worsen with stress, such as asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and chronic pain.
Meditating activates the parasympathetic nervous system, a network of nerves that send signals to help your body relax and return to its standard activity levels after periods of stress.
Activating the parasympathetic nervous system helps to reduce stress, which in turn helps to lower inflammation.
Additionally, meditation helps you reconnect with your body. When you have a chronic illness, it’s easy to feel anger and frustration over what your body can no longer do. Because meditating increases self-awareness, it can help you focus on your body’s needs and process these negative feels easier.
Types of Meditation
There are many meditation techniques, but knowing there is no right way to meditate is essential. So instead, focus on finding a method that helps you achieve inner peace.
Here are some examples of ways to meditate:
- Guided Meditation: With this method, you can use your different senses to create a mental image of places, sounds, or situations you find relaxing.
- Mantra Meditation: This technique focuses on sound, where you focus your attention on silently repeating calming words or phrases, eliminating all other thoughts
- Mindfulness Meditation: Mindfulness increases your awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment. This type of meditation allows you to observe and experience your thoughts and emotions without judgment
- Qi Gong: This traditional Chinese medicine practice combines relaxation, meditation, breathing exercises, and physical movement to restore and maintain your energetic balance.
Remember to talk to your doctor regarding any decision involving your treatment. In addition to meditating, your doctor may recommend other relaxation and stress-reducing methods.