Fight Anxiety, Depression, and Anger
Meditation is all about clearing the mind — and clarity could be your best defense against the fog of depression and anxiety. "The idea that mindfulness-based practice can have anti-anxiety, and anti-depressant benefits is probably the best-established advantage," says Raison. In a meta-analysis published last year, John Hopkins researchers poured over 37 trials that studied meditation and psychological well-being (and included a total of over 3500 people); they concluded that mindfulness programs had enough "moderate evidence" to improve all kinds of psychological stress, including anxiety, depression, and pain. The mechanisms behind such an effect aren't clear, but according to Raison, it's about creating a space between a negative event and your reaction to it. "[Core meditative practices] put a gap between the experience of something that is threatening, upsetting, or angering, and the response," says Raison. "And that gap allows people to have more freedom to think about how they're going to respond. It allows you to respond more rationally to challenging situations. And if that means you have to be tough, you can be tough, but it also means if there's a smarter way to be softer, you're more likely to react like that."