We live in a stressful world. We are not biologically designed for the jobs, interviews, speeches, and more that we participate in. These activities of the modern world are a new phenomenon. Our biology does not fully recognize the rapid social development that has occurred in the last 300 years.
Stress Negatively Impacts the Hippocampus
One study examines how stress is a risk factor for the brain. Stress negatively impacts and even shrinks the hippocampus, a region of the brain responsible for spatial, short, and long term memory. Since the hippocampal region of the brain is often impaired in dementia patients, we can safely attribute stress as a risk factor for developing dementia.
Meditation is a powerful tool to use against dementia in a world where stress prevails at high levels. Using meditation to lessen stress is definitely an important step for preventing dementia.
Meditation Can Help Dementia
Meditation can help dementia due to its stress-relieving properties. Meditation will not only help you relax after an intense day, but it will balance your stress hormones and immune system on a physical level as well.
Furthermore, meditation has even been shown to grow the hippocampus. A study published in Neuroimage examines 23 meditation practitioners who engage in practices such as deep concentration, controlled breathing, letting go of thoughts, and visualization. They were found to have more grey matter in their frontal and hippocampal regions of the brain.
Another study published in Psychiatry Res had similar findings. More grey matter was found in the brains of people who meditate.
Meditation is a powerful, brain-enhancing activity that will improve your quality of life while healing your brain and preventing dementia. Getting started with meditation is easy. Remember to incorporate it as a long-term lifestyle choice for optimal benefits.
Getting Started With Meditation
Follow these simple steps to begin meditating and reaping the brain-enhancing, stress-relieving benefits.
1. Find a quiet space where you know you will not be bothered. It can be indoors or outdoors. Many meditators particularly enjoy quiet outdoor spaces. If indoors, you can play some light nature sounds from your phone or computer.
2. Relax into a comfortable seated position, whether that be cross-legged on the ground or in a chair.
3. Next, tune in to your breath. Try focusing on the way the breath feels in your nostrils, belly, and chest. Contrary to popular belief, it is ok to allow thoughts to enter your mind. The key is to study your thoughts and their origins while allowing them to float off as easily as they came.
4. Try to sit in concentration for 15-20 minutes. Begin with 10 minutes if needed.
Overall, meditation will free you from stress and worry while also growing your brain to prevent dementia. Consistency is key. With practice, you will notice less stress and a sharper brain relatively soon.
If you’re experiencing a consistent lack of mental sharpness, this could be an early sign of dementia. In this case, be sure to try out the BrainTest® app. The app contains an easy way to get screened at home. We also have a web version of BrainTest® where we offer the test as well.