London: Mindfulness meditation — the practice of paying more attention to the present moment — is better at reducing stress than yoga or gardening, scientists suggest. The training has been growing in popularity in recent years, with the NHS recommending it as a way to reduce stress and anxiety. Previous research said meditation can help protect you from heart disease.
An eight-week trial by researchers including those of University of Westminster in the UK, showed it was better than gardening and yoga at helping people to relax. For the research 68 people were recruited. A third of then met every week for group gardening and conservation activities, another group tried weekly yoga sessions, while the third group practised 10 minutes of meditation practice every day.
All participants were measured for levels of the stress hormone cortisol. A healthy stress response is to have a big burst in the morning called the cortisol awakening response (CAR), and lower levels through the day. While yoga saw only a slight improvement, gardeners’ CAR jumped by 20%, while the mindfulness group saw their cortisol awakening response leap by 52%.
Those who enjoyed meditation gained an even bigger boost, with CAR rising to 78%, The Telegraph reported. Previous studies have shown that mindfulness can decrease self-reported stress levels and make people feel calmer. Last year US scientists proved for the first time that it can help lower inflammatory molecules and stress hormones.