Mindfulness can improve the academic performance and mental health of teenagers, research suggests.
Students who practiced meditation reported less stress and negative emotions such as anger. They also had better grades.
Brain scans also showed that it reduces activity in the amygdala – which determines how we respond to a potential threat, reducing stress.
Emma Watson and Angelina Jolie are said to be fans of mindfulness, while Jennifer Lopez insists on meditating morning and evening.
Mindfulness, practiced by A-listers, can improve academic performance and mental health in teenagers, according to research
Mindfulness means more attention for the present moment, including your thoughts, emotions and the world around you.
This has been associated with improved mental well-being and improved cognition.
The study was conducted at charter schools in Boston by a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge.
John Gabrieli, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences and a member of MIT who was involved in both studies, said: & # 39; By definition, mindfulness is the ability to focus attention on the present moment as opposed to being distracted by external things or internal thoughts.
& # 39; If you are focused on the teacher in front of you, or the homework for you, that should be good to learn. & # 39;
The research was divided into two studies, the first led by Dr. Clemens Bauer from MIT.
About 100 11-12 year olds were studied, according to the article published in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience.
Half of the students trained mindfulness every day for eight weeks, while the other half took a coding course.
DOES MINDFULNESS REALLY WORK?
A German study found that mindfulness eases the tension by 51 percent by stimulating brain areas that are associated with attention, function and compassion.
Researchers analyzed the brain scans of more than 300 people between 20 and 55 years old.
Different aspects of mindfulness were practiced six days a week for a total of 30 minutes a day for three months.
Participants also underwent behavioral tests and MRI brain scans, according to the study published in the journal Science Advances in 2017.
Blood samples were taken before and after the study to measure the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Results reveal that mindfulness lowers cortisol levels by 51 percent and all participants reported feeling better after three months.
In the same year, a panel of 15 health experts led by a clinical psychologist at the University of Melbourne, Australia, said there was insufficient evidence that mindfulness works.
They analyzed whether mindfulness helps with problems such as stress, depression, addiction and pain. But 70 percent of the clinical studies could not provide conclusive results.
Co-author Willoughby Britton wrote in the article published in Perspectives on Psychological Science: & # 39; The possibility of unsafe or harmful effects has largely been ignored. & # 39;
A study published in 2019 suggested that if you want to relieve stress, you better play games on your smartphone.
The game app Block! Hexa appeared to reduce stress more effectively after a hard day's work than the Headspeace mindfulness app by researchers at University College London and the University of Bath.
The mindfulness exercises encouraged students to pay attention to their breathing and to focus on the present moment rather than on past or future thoughts.
Students who received the mindfulness training reported that their stress level dropped after the training, while the students in the control group did not.
Students in the mindfulness training group also reported fewer negative feelings after the study, such as sadness or anger.
About 40 of the students also had brain imaging before and after training.
The researchers measure activity in the amygdala, a part of the brain that controls our response to danger.
The students were shown photos of faces that expressed different emotions.
At the start of the study, before each workout, students who reported higher stress levels exhibited more amygdala activity when they saw anxious faces.
After the mindfulness training, the students showed a lesser amygdala reaction when they saw the frightened faces, supporting the finding that they felt less stressed.
John Gabrieli, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences and a member of MIT, said: & There are many indications that an overly strong amygdala response to negative things is associated with high stress in early childhood and the risk of depression. & # 39;
The second study, published in the magazine Mind, Brain and Education and led by Dr. Camila Caballero of Yale University, included more than 2,000 students aged 10-14.
The students received a questionnaire based on the Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale, which asks how strongly the participant agrees with statements such as & # 39; I run through activities without really paying attention to it & # 39 ;.
The researchers compared the results of the questionnaire with the performance of students at school and the number of people present.
Students who turned out to be more mindful usually had better grades and test scores, as well as fewer absences and suspensions.
Professor Gabrieli said: “People had not asked that question in quantitative terms at all, whether it is more likely that a more aware child will do better at school. This is the first article that says there is a connection between the two. & # 39;
The researchers are now planning to do a full school year study, with a larger group of students at many schools, to investigate the long-term effects of mindfulness training.
In the short term, programs like the one in the study, which lasts eight weeks, have no lasting impact, said Professor Gabrieli.
He said: & # 39; Mindfulness is like going to the gym. If you go for a month, that's fine, but if you stop going, the effects won't last.
& # 39; It is a form of mental exercise that must be sustained. & # 39;
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