If your way of dealing with stress involves ranting to coworkers or face-planting in a bag of chips, we've got a simpler, healthier idea for you: Spend less than half an hour practicing mindful meditation. A new study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology is the first to show the positive effects of this increasingly popular type of meditation. It's a more focused, in-the-present way to meditate that's about inhaling and exhaling slowly so you can sense your muscles relax and feel tension being swept from your brain.
For the study, researchers divided 66 college students into two groups. One group practiced mindful meditation 25 minutes per day for three days. The other group underwent a type of cognitive training for three days. All participants were subject to a stress challenge test and had measurements taken of biological and psychological stress markers. The findings: Study authors discovered lower levels of self-reported psychological stress in the group that practiced mindful meditation; these subjects also appeared to be better at coping with stress compared to the second group. In the study, the researchers wrote that being mindful may have made the subjects more engaged and active, which buffered their perceptions of stress.
It's an intriguing yet preliminary study that needs deeper follow-up, the researchers say. But it offers some evidence that mindful meditation isn't just a passing trend—it might be a genius and easy way to get a handle on things when you feel overwhelmed and frazzled. Not sure where to start? Follow these simple tips to be master at meditation.