Spend 25 minutes daily for just three consecutive days and kiss stress good-bye.
According to researchers, one does not actually require lengthy, weeks-long meditation training programmes to reduce stress.
“More and more people report using meditation practices for stress reduction, but we know very little about how much you need to do for stress reduction and health benefits,” said J. David Creswell, an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
For the study, Creswell and his team had 66 healthy individuals aged between 18 and 30 years old participate in a three-day experiment.
Some participants went through a brief mindfulness meditation training programme for 25 minutes for three consecutive days.
The individuals were given breathing exercises to help them monitor their breath and pay attention to their present moment experiences.
Following the final training activity, all participants were asked to complete stressful speech and math tasks in front of stern-faced evaluators.
The participants who received the brief mindfulness meditation training reported reduced stress perceptions to the speech and math tasks.
More interestingly, on the biological side, the mindfulness mediation participants showed greater cortisol (stress hormone) reactivity.
“When you initially learn mindfulness mediation practices, you have to cognitively work at it – especially during a stressful task, Creswell said.
These active cognitive efforts may result in the task feeling less stressful, but they may also have physiological costs with higher cortisol production, he noted.
The team is testing the possibility that mindfulness can become more automatic and easy to use with long-term mindfulness meditation training, which may result in reduced cortisol reactivity.
The study was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.