Dossier: Stress and relaxation

7 reasons to start meditating

Meditation is about much more than stilling thoughts and creating a balance. Done regularly, you will really feel the benefits.

Text: Irène Schäppi; photo: iStock

Better memory

Meditation strengthens the areas in the brain responsible for memory. These are located in the prefrontal cortex in the cerebral cortex, whose density decreases with age. Long-term meditation slows this process and improves our memory.

More patience

Taking breaks from all the thoughts in your head helps you be more present and observe your thoughts. This in turn protects against uncontrolled reactions – thanks to an increase in the density of the orbitofrontal cortex, which controls emotional learning processes and helps us be more patient.

Better sleep

Daily meditation – 13 minutes of deep abdominal breathing is enough – boosts the production of the hormone melatonin, which helps you sleep. You will find it easier to fall asleep and sleep through the night.

More resilient to stress

When we’re stressed, our adrenal gland releases the stress hormone cortisol. Mindfulness and concentration exercises are proven to affect the right amygdala in the brain, a region known for its role in stress. We become calmer and can breathe easily again.

Less pain

While we meditate, our brain releases a wellness cocktail, increasing the pain-relieving happiness hormone endorphin as well as the feel-good and love hormones serotonin and oxytocin. The focus shifts away from the pain to other topics and we are more relaxed.

Strong immune system

Stress makes us more susceptible to colds and flu. Relaxation helps by increasing the number of antibodies in the blood that help fight infections.

Protect the cardiovascular system

During meditation, our heart rate and breathing slow down. Blood vessels constricted by stress widen, and the risk of developing high blood pressure or suffering a heart attack or stroke decreases.