By Wendy Suzuki, CNBC
When I first began researching anxiety in my lab as a neuroscientist, I never thought of myself as an anxious person.
That is, until I started noticing the words used by my subjects, colleagues, friends and even myself to describe how we were feeling — “worried,” “on edge,” stressed out,” “distracted,” “nervous,” “ready to give up.”
But what I’ve found over the years is that the most powerful way to combat anxiety is to consistently work on building your resilience and mental strength. Along the way, you’ll learn to appreciate or even welcome certain kinds of mistakes for all the new information they bring you.
Here are six daily exercises I use to build my resilience and mental strength:
1. Visualize positive outcomes
At the beginning or at the end of each day, think through all those uncertain situations currently in your life — both big and small. Will I get a good performance review? Will my kid settle well in his new school? Will I hear back after my job interview?
Now take each of those and visualize the most optimistic and amazing outcome to the situation. Not just the “okay” outcome, but the best possible one you could imagine.
This isn’t to set you up for an even bigger disappointment if you don’t end up getting the job offer. Instead, it should build the muscle of expecting the positive outcome and might even open up ideas for what more you might do to create that outcome of your dreams.
2. Turn anxiety into progress
Our brain’s plasticity is what enables us to be resilient during challenging times — to learn how to calm down, reassess situations, reframe our thoughts and make smarter decisions.
And it’s easier to take advantage of this when we remind ourselves that anxiety doesn’t always have to be bad. Consider the below:
- Anger could block your attention and ability to perform, OR it could fuel and motivate you; sharpen your attention; and serve as a reminder of what’s important.
- Fear could trigger memories of past failures; rob your attention and focus; and undermine your performance, OR it could make you more careful about your decisions; deepen your reflection; and create opportunities for changing direction.
- Sadness could flatten out your mood and demotivate you, OR it could help you reprioritize and motivate you to change your environment, circumstances and behavior.
- Worry could make you procrastinate and get in the way of accomplishing goals, OR it could help you fine-tune your plans; adjust your expectations; and become more realistic and goal-oriented.
- Frustration could stymie your progress and steal your motivation, OR it could innervate and challenge you to do more or better.
These comparisons may seem simplistic, but they point to powerful choices that produce tangible outcomes.
3. Try something new
These days, it’s easier than ever to take a new online class, join a local sports club or participate in a virtual event.
Not too long ago, I joined Wimbledon champ Venus Williams in an Instagram Live workout, where she was using Prosecco bottles as her weights. I’d never done something like that before. It turned out to be a fantastic and memorable experience.
My point is that for free (or only a small fee) you can push your brain and body to try something you never would have considered before. It doesn’t have to be a workout, and it doesn’t have to be hard — it can be something right above your level or just slightly outside of your comfort zone.
4. Reach out
Being able to ask for help, staying connected to friends and family, and actively nurturing supportive, encouraging relationships not only enables you to keep anxiety at bay, but also shores up the sense that you’re not alone.
It isn’t easy to cultivate, but the belief and feeling that you are surrounded by people who care about you is crucial during times of enormous stress — when you need to fall back on your own resilience in order to persevere and maintain your well-being.
When we are suffering from loss or other forms of distress, it’s natural to withdraw. We even see this kind of behavior in animals who are mourning. Yet you also have the power to push yourself into the loving embrace of those who can help take care of you.
Click here to read the full article on CNBC.
For several months now, Facebook execs have been kicking around an eerie product idea few people seem to want: Instagram for Kids. Given the negative mental-health outcomes the app’s youngest users already report, lots of parents, lawmakers, and almost all the nation’s attorneys general have lobbied the company to please not. Nonetheless, Facebook persists — the youths are a lucrative market! — even though its own research reportedly confirms that for teens, Instagram outpaces other social-media platforms when it comes to fostering feelings of anxiety, depression, and body dysmorphia.
“We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” reads a slide from a 2019 presentation of corporate data, according to The Wall Street Journal. Apparently, Facebook has been investigating these topics for about three years, and the findings have painted a bleak picture. “Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” another slide stated. “This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.” Numbers from 2020 indicated the same: “32 percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse …Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves.” Among teens who reported experiencing suicidal thoughts, 6 percent of U.S. users and 13 percent of U.K. users attributed ideation to Instagram.
The Journal reports that about 40 percent of Instagram users clock in under 22, and that about 22 million teens use the app daily. For this group, corporate research suggests that Instagram poses a unique problem in terms of social comparison, or the tendency to measure oneself against the standard set by other people’s posts. While TikTok leans on performance and Snapchat promotes cartoonish filters, Instagram is where people go to document their best moments, often edited for maximum impact. Then in comes the algorithm, the same villain that may have led you to believe everyone went to Greece without you this summer: Similar to TikTok, it notices what content engages you and for how long, then tailors your Explore page accordingly. The Journal identifies this feature as a uniquely damaging Instagram feature: One 18-year-old who spoke to the paper said she developed an eating disorder after falling into fitness wormholes every time she opened the app. “When I went on Instagram, all I saw were images of chiseled bodies, perfect abs, and women doing 100 burpees in ten minutes.”
While the research notes that not every young user who spends time scrolling reports the same problems, it also suggests that many link their self-esteem issues directly back to Instagram. In one survey of U.S. and U.K. teens, 40 percent reportedly said they started feeling “unattractive” around the same time they started using Instagram; about 25 percent said it made them feel “not good enough.” Many said that using the app created anxiety around friendships and social activity, but that many teens are “unable to stop themselves” from logging on.
What’s especially discouraging, though, is that Facebook publicly downplays Instagram’s potential for making people depressed, even though it has the data. “The research that we’ve seen is that using social apps to connect with other people can have positive mental health benefits,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Congress in March of this year, while in May, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said adverse effects on adolescents’ well-being were probably “quite small.” One in three teen girls isn’t an insignificant portion of users, though it is a strong argument against the forthcoming Instagram Junior. Nobody asked for this, and per Facebook’s own data, it seems no one needs it, either.
Click here to read the full article on The Cut.
By Bill Cooney, Dexerto
During a stream on September 11, Asmongold shared a candid moment with viewers where he discussed his struggles with mental health and suicidal thoughts.
Asmongold is one of the most popular MMO steamers on Twitch, but recently opened up to fans about the struggles he’s had with mental health as a result.
When a user donated and asked if he’d ever “felt like Reckful (who took his own life in 2020) unironically.” Asmon gave an honest answer that initially concerned fans before the streamer provided reassurance.
“‘Do you ever feel how Reckful felt unironically?’ I probably shouldn’t say this, I’ve wanted to kill myself many times, yeah, absolutely,” Asmon revealed during the stream.
If you check out the chat while Asmon was saying this, there is an outpouring of love and support for the streamer, but at the same time worry for the concerning comments from viewers.
“What a f***ing segway,” Asmon added. “Yeah, many many times, I’m just too much of a p****y to do it, don’t worry about it I’ll be fine, I’m not going anywhere.”
His chat was, as we said, more than supportive after the streamer made these comments, but they still caused plenty of concern among fans. However, he said it was something he’d been wanting to talk about for awhile, and would be making changes to his stream in the future.
“I’d like to take down some of the super high energy stuff I do, and just try to have a little bit more of, just me,” Asmon said. “Not a bunch of crazy bulls***t, not a bunch of weird showmanship, just me. Just me streaming us having fun together, and relaxing.”
Mental health has become a huge issue not just on Twitch, but with internet personalities and creators as a whole. Asmon certainly isn’t alone in his struggles, either, so if you happen to tune into him in the near future, be sure to show the WoW OG some love.
Click here to read the full article on Dexerto.
By The News International
Hollywood superstar Zendaya got candid about her mental health and how she learnt to prioritize it while growing up in the spotlight.
In a sit-down with British Vogue, the Dune actor, 25, spoke about going to therapy and recommended everyone to give it a try as well.
“Of course I go to therapy. I mean, if anybody is able to possess the financial means to go to therapy, I would recommend they do that. I think it’s a beautiful thing,” said the Euphoria actor.
“There’s nothing wrong with working on yourself and dealing with those things with someone who can help you, someone who can talk to you, who’s not your mom or whatever. Who has no bias,” said the former Disney star.
The actor also spoke about how the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown that subsequently followed led her towards feeling persistent existential sadness.
“[It was the] first kind of taste of sadness where you wake up and you just feel bad all day, like what the [expletive] is going on? What is this dark cloud that’s hovering over me and I don’t know how to get rid of it, you know?”
Click here to read the full article on The News International.
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By Yahoo! News
Even before COVID-19, as many as 1 in 6 young children had a diagnosed mental, behavioral or developmental disorder. New findings suggest a doubling of rates of disorders such as anxiety and depression among children and adolescents during the pandemic.
One reason is that children’s well-being is tightly connected to family and community conditions such as stress and financial worries.
Particularly for children living in poverty, there are practical obstacles, like transportation and scheduling, to accessing mental health services. That’s one reason school mental health professionals – who include psychologists, counselors and social workers – are so essential.
As many kids resume instruction this fall, schools can serve as critical access points for mental health services. But the intensity of challenges students face coupled with school mental health workforce shortages is a serious concern.
As school psychology professors who train future school psychologists, we are used to requests by K-12 schools for potential applicants to fill their open positions. Never before have we received this volume of contacts regarding unfilled positions this close to the start of the school year.
As researchers on school mental health, we believe this shortage is a serious problem given the increase in mental health challenges, such as anxiety, gaps in social skills and grief, that schools can expect to see in returning students.
Anxiety should be expected given current COVID-related uncertainties. However, problems arise when those fears or worries prevent children from being able to complete the expected tasks of everyday life.
Meanwhile, school closures and disruptions have led to lost opportunities for students to build social skills. A McKinsey & Co. analysis found the pandemic set K-12 students back by four to five months, on average, in math and reading during the 2020-2021 school year. Learning loss also extends to social skills. These losses may be particularly profound for the youngest students, who may have missed developmental opportunities such as learning to get along with others.
And it’s important to remember the sheer number of children under 18 who have lost a loved one during the pandemic. A study published in July 2021 estimates that more than 1 out of every 1,000 children in the U.S. lost a primary caregiver due to COVID-19.
Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! News.
By BBC News
The 49-year-old American, known for films like Cruel Intentions, Hellboy and Legally Blonde, was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease in 2018.
Blair, who had been left with intense physical pain, told reporters her condition had improved as a result of a stem cell transplant and chemotherapy.
“My prognosis is great,” she said. “I’m in remission. Stem cell put me in remission.”
She added: “It took about a year after stem cell for the inflammation and lesions to really go down.”
Stem cell treatment it is not a cure for MS but can help to stabilise the disease and improve disability, according to researchers.
The star was speaking while promoting a documentary, Introducing Selma Blair, which follows her as she “reconciles a journey of monumental transition” to living with the incurable condition, which affects the brain and spinal cord, causing vision, balance and muscle problems.
MS had left Blair unable to speak properly or fully use her left leg, and she was pictured using a cane to walk up a red carpet after the Oscars two years ago.
Speaking to a virtual Television Critics Association panel on Monday, she said she had been doing well for the last few months after having felt “unwell and misunderstood for so long”, according to People and the Associated Press.
“I was reluctant to talk about it because I felt this need to be more healed and more fixed,” she said.
Click here to read the full article on BBC News.
By Sam Farmer, The Hill
When a leading technology company and a leading institution of higher learning partner with each other to make things better for an unfairly marginalized segment of society, there is cause for celebration. Particularly if you are a neurodiverse individual (autistic, for example) aspiring to a career in technology. The cloud industry is growing rapidly and Goggle is a key player with their Google Cloud services. To their credit, they have chosen to proceed in a way that is mindful of inclusivity and of the talents that people with autism bring to the table, and they have wisely decided not to go it alone in meeting the challenge.
As such, Google recently announced the launch of the Google Cloud Autism Career Program. The program’s purpose is not merely to hire but also to support more autistic talent in the Google workforce. To that end, they are collaborating with experts from the Stanford Neurodiversity Project which advises employers on opportunities and success metrics for neurodivergent individuals in the workplace. Stanford will also coach applicants and provide support not only for them but for their colleagues and managers as well, once they join the Google Cloud team.
The Stanford Neurodiversity Project works toward the establishment of a culture that values the capabilities of neurodiverse people and empowers them to develop their identity and daily living skills. It trains talented individuals for successful inclusion in the workforce and seeks to disseminate its methodology on a global scale. The end goal, which is also that of the Neurodiversity Movement in general, is to reveal the strengths of neurodivergent individuals and leverage these strengths to increase society’s capacity for innovation and productivity.
The Google/Stanford partnership makes perfect sense, considering that products that are intended for use by everybody everywhere, including the Google Cloud services, are best designed and built by as wide a diversity of people as possible. The Google Cloud team is therefore optimized when neurodiverse and neurotypical people work side by side. Ideally, the team would reflect diversity in other respects as well (race, ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, etc.).
Rob Enslin is the President of Global Customer Operations for Google Cloud. In the company’s formal announcement of the Google Cloud Autism Career Program, Enslin speaks of Google’s intent to train and empower as many as 500 Google Cloud managers and others involved in hiring processes “to work effectively and empathetically with autistic candidates and ensure Google’s onboarding processes are accessible and equitable.” He added that the Autism Career Program also aims to “break down the barriers that autistic candidates most often face,” citing the traditional job interview as a common impediment to an autistic candidate’s efforts at getting his foot in the door, because of the lack of accommodations which would enable the candidate to showcase his strengths. For example, allowing for more time for the interviewee to respond to a question or permitting him to answer the questions in writing. No unfair advantage in this case. Rather, the elimination of an unfair disadvantage.
As an autistic individual, I can attest. Back in my high school days when I took the SAT’s, my verbal score took a beating as a result of time running out well before I could finish. Many reading comprehension questions toward the end of the verbal portion went unanswered. In retrospect, it was foolish of me to decline the offer to take the test untimed, choosing instead to be evaluated on the same terms as my classmates. Had I chosen the untimed option, I would not have been granted an unfair advantage. I rejected a necessary accommodation and paid the price on a high stakes exam.
Conversely, I had a music history professor in college who, out of the kindness of her heart, remained in the classroom with me until I completed her exams, sometimes long after time had expired and everybody else had left, no matter how long I took. As a result, I was able to prove the true extent of my knowledge of the topics the exam questions raised. Her flexibility and understanding meant the world to me, knowing that I worked significantly slower than most and that she could have enforced the same expectations equally for everybody in her classes but instead chose to exempt me. I felt understood and valued at a time in my life when I often felt misunderstood and marginalized.
Click here to read the full article on The Hill.
By Gabrielle Sanchez, AV Club
Game Of Thrones’ Kit Harington has opened up about the “mental health difficulties” he experienced during filming and after the show’s end. In his appearance on The Jess Cagle Show this week, the actor reveals he took a year off from acting once the show concluded, and discusses how working on the intense and violent HBO show took its toll on him off-camera.
“I went through some mental health difficulties after Thrones, and during the end of Thrones, to be honest,” he explains. “I think it was directly to do with the nature of the show and what I had been doing for years.”
Harington famously played the heroic Jon Snow in the fantasy series over the course of 62 episodes. He’s talked before about how the reception of his character in the beginning of the series affected him, namely when people called his Jon Snow “boring.” He also contended with the built-in pressures of playing such a prominent character. In 2019, it was reported that Harington checked into a mental health and wellness facility for “personal issues.”
After taking a much needed year off following GOT’s wrap up, Harington stepped into a lighter role in Amazon’s second season of Modern Love, based off The New York Times column of the same name. He’s to star in one of the many romantic storylines as Michael, a man who sparks an unexpected connection with a woman (played by Lucy Boynton) while on a train ride.
“Doing this Modern Love episode was a bit like, you don’t have to live in that intense place all the time. Why don’t you do something that takes the weight off?” Harington says. “Why don’t you do something fun? I think that was part of my thinking on this one.”
Click here to read the full article on AV Club.
Have you ever felt nervous or afraid to take time off from work to look after your mental health?
Marisa Kabas, a writer and political strategist who lives in New York City, recently posed a similar question on Twitter, inspired by Simone Biles, who bowed out of Olympic events this week to protect her mental health.
“It was so shocking to so many people,” Ms. Kabas said on Wednesday in an interview. “Because the whole mentality is be strong, and push through the pain.”
The tweet drew thousands of responses, many from employees who said they do not disclose the real reason they need time away from work, or feel pressured to lie about it because they are embarrassed. Others said they had never taken a mental health day.
As a freelancer who has written prolifically about her health problems, including anxiety and depression, Ms. Kabas said she sometimes wakes up and decides, “I can’t do it today,” and takes the day off, a luxury she didn’t feel she had as an employee.
About three-quarters of people in the United States who work for private industry, state or local government have paid sick leave, but surveys suggest that a number of these employees are unlikely to use sick days for mental health reasons or are scared of being punished for doing so.
If you’re among the hesitant, experts say it’s time to start thinking about how to protect and prioritize your mental well-being, especially as millions of employees who worked remotely during the pandemic start returning to the office.
“You wouldn’t feel bad about taking time off when sick. You shouldn’t feel bad about taking some time off when you’re sad,” said Natalie C. Dattilo, a clinical health psychologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and an instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “Your body needs a rest, your brain needs a break.”
How do you know if you need a ‘sad day’?
There’s no official definition for a “sad day,” also known as a mental health day. Typically, it is paid time off drawn from sick days (or personal days) to help employees who aren’t feeling like their usual selves, offering an opportunity to refresh their minds; do something meaningful; or simply take a break from daily stressors. The “sad day” is only a temporary fix, and not meant to address deeper problems, but sometimes a little time away can make a big difference.
Your company may not specify that sick days can be used for this purpose, but “mental health is health,” said Schroeder Stribling, the president and chief executive of the advocacy group Mental Health America. “The two are inseparable.”
The signs that you need to take time away from work may not necessarily be obvious, Ms. Stribling said. Indicators include changes in your mood, productivity or ability to concentrate. You may also notice that you are less patient and more irritable than usual, or are having trouble sleeping.
You might also have physical symptoms. For example, “if I start getting headaches, that’s a sign of stress for me, and I need to address that with a mental heath day,” Ms. Stribling said.
The bottom line: Given the extraordinary stressors of the last year and a half, regardless of your specific symptoms, “if you feel like you might benefit from a mental health day, you have earned one,” said Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton business school, whose recent podcast explored the benefits of the “sad day” and the importance of building a culture of compassion within the workplace.
Some companies may require employees to provide documentation, such as a doctor’s note, when they use sick days, so make sure you understand what the law says in your region. In New York City, for example, an employee is not required to provide documentation unless more than three consecutive days of sick leave have been used.
How do you ask for a mental health day?
Your workplace culture and your relationship with your manager will dictate how open you choose to be about why you’re taking time off. You should not feel compelled to divulge more than necessary.
“I think sometimes we over-share when we’re anxious or perhaps feel a little bad about having to take time,” Dr. Dattilo said.
In most situations, just say that you need to take a sick day, and leave it at that, the experts advised.
“I think the safe advice is not to be upfront,” said Andrew Kuller, a clinical psychologist at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. Not everybody values mental health, he added, and “unless you’re close with your supervisor, it is a risk.”
But say you work at the type of organization where you can tell the truth without fear of being punished. In that case, you are still under no obligation to reveal why you want to take a sick day. However, if you want to share (or are interested in reducing some of the stigma around mental health) you might approach your manager and say, “I think I would really benefit from taking a day just to recharge a little bit,” Dr. Grant said. “I would like to come back to work with all of my energy.”
When employees are mentally and physically exhausted, it affects the quality of their work, their productivity and the people around them, Dr. Grant added.
“I think it’s easier to have a conversation about burnout than it is about feeling sad or depressed or anxious, so I would probably play it safe there, and highlight why this is good for the organization, not just good for you,” he said.
If you’re feeling up to it, you can also try to assemble a coalition of people within your department who are concerned about mental health fatigue, said Dr. Grant, whose latest book, “Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know,” challenges readers to shift long-held thought patterns. As a group, you can discuss concerns like missed deadlines or errors that might be compounded by burnout, then bring these issues to your manager, who may be motivated to find a solution. That way, you can try to change the system for everyone, including yourself.
Click here to read the full article on the New York Times.
By Alice G. Walton, Forbes
The meditation-and-the-brain research has been rolling in steadily for a number of years now, with new studies coming out just about every week to illustrate some new benefit of meditation. Or, rather, some ancient benefit that is just now being confirmed with fMRI or EEG. The practice appears to have an amazing variety of neurological benefits – from changes in grey matter volume to reduced activity in the “me” centers of the brain to enhanced connectivity between brain regions. Below are some of the most exciting studies to come out in the last few years and show that meditation really does produce measurable changes in our most important organ. Skeptics, of course, may ask what good are a few brain changes if the psychological effects aren’t simultaneously being illustrated? Luckily, there’s good evidence for those as well, with studies reporting that meditation helps relieve our subjective levels of anxiety and depression, and improve attention, concentration, and overall psychological well-being.
Meditation Helps Preserve the Aging Brain
Last week, a study from UCLA found that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. Participants who’d been meditating for an average of 20 years had more grey matter volume throughout the brain — although older meditators still had some volume loss compared to younger meditators, it wasn’t as pronounced as the non-meditators. “We expected rather small and distinct effects located in some of the regions that had previously been associated with meditating,” said study author Florian Kurth. “Instead, what we actually observed was a widespread effect of meditation that encompassed regions throughout the entire brain.”
Meditation Reduces Activity in the Brain’s “Me Center”
One of the most interesting studies in the last few years, carried out at Yale University, found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), the brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts – a.k.a., “monkey mind.” The DMN is “on” or active when we’re not thinking about anything in particular, when our minds are just wandering from thought to thought. Since mind-wandering is typically associated with being less happy, ruminating, and worrying about the past and future, it’s the goal for many people to dial it down. Several studies have shown that meditation, through its quieting effect on the DMN, appears to do just this. And even when the mind does start to wander, because of the new connections that form, meditators are better at snapping back out of it.
Its Effects Rival Antidepressants for Depression, Anxiety
A review study last year at Johns Hopkins looked at the relationship between mindfulness meditation and its ability to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain. Researcher Madhav Goyal and his team found that the effect size of meditation was moderate, at 0.3. If this sounds low, keep in mind that the effect size for antidepressants is also 0.3, which makes the effect of meditation sound pretty good. Meditation is, after all an active form of brain training. “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.
Meditation May Lead to Volume Changes in Key Areas of the Brain
In 2011, Sara Lazar and her team at Harvard found that mindfulness meditation can actually change the structure of the brain: Eight weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was found to increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory, and in certain areas of the brain that play roles in emotion regulation and self-referential processing. There were also decreases in brain cell volume in the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress – and these changes matched the participants’ self-reports of their stress levels, indicating that meditation not only changes the brain, but it changes our subjective perception and feelings as well. In fact, a follow-up study by Lazar’s team found that after meditation training, changes in brain areas linked to mood and arousal were also linked to improvements in how participants said they felt — i.e., their psychological well-being. So for anyone who says that activated blobs in the brain don’t necessarily mean anything, our subjective experience – improved mood and well-being – does indeed seem to be shifted through meditation as well.
Just a Few Days of Training Improves Concentration and Attention
Having problems concentrating isn’t just a kid thing – it affects millions of grown-ups as well, with an ADD diagnosis or not. Interestingly but not surprisingly, one of the central benefits of meditation is that it improves attention and concentration: One recent study found that just a couple of weeks of meditation training helped people’s focus and memory during the verbal reasoning section of the GRE. In fact, the increase in score was equivalent to 16 percentile points, which is nothing to sneeze at. Since the strong focus of attention (on an object, idea, or activity) is one of the central aims of meditation, it’s not so surprising that meditation should help people’s cognitive skills on the job, too – but it’s nice to have science confirm it. And everyone can use a little extra assistance on standardized tests.
Meditation Reduces Anxiety — and Social Anxiety
A lot of people start meditating for its benefits in stress reduction, and there’s lots of good evidence to support this rationale. There’s a whole newer sub-genre of meditation, mentioned earlier, called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts’ Center for Mindfulness (now available all over the country), that aims to reduce a person’s stress level, physically and mentally. Studies have shown its benefits in reducing anxiety, even years after the initial 8-week course. Research has also shown that mindfulness meditation, in contrast to attending to the breath only, can reduce anxiety – and that these changes seem to be mediated through the brain regions associated with those self-referential (“me-centered”) thoughts. Mindfulness meditation has also been shown to help people with social anxiety disorder: a Stanford University team found that MBSR brought about changes in brain regions involved in attention, as well as relief from symptoms of social anxiety.
Click here to read the full article on Forbes.