Mindfulness: How meditation can build mental resilience

Meditation can teach you to roll with the punches and build mental resilience. Here's how

Woman meditating
(Image credit: Unsplash)

If there's one thing we've all needed in 2020, it's resilience. This year has thrown up tough challenges for so many people, it can feel very overwhelming at times. However, the practice of being resilient to stress – staying calm not just under pressure, but being able to roll with the long-term waves of anxiety – is an enormous benefit in these turbulent times. 

Meditation can help. A study conducted by researchers from the National University of Natural Sciences in Seoul, South Korea, looked at the practice of meditation and its effects on stress resilience. 

Published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, the study's participants underwent a four-day meditation course before being measured on their reactions to stress. The results were very encouraging. 

The study found "meditation causes an immediate enhancement in resilience that is sustained. Since resilience is known to be associated with the preventative effect of various psychiatric disorders, the improvement in stress-related neural mechanisms may be beneficial to individuals at high clinical risk."

Meditating on the beach

(Image credit: Simon Rae (Unsplash))

The study found meditation actually increased the "resting-state functional connectivity" between parts of our brains, a process which stops us overreacting to stress. Those benefits remained even three months after the meditation course ended. 

To get the benefit of this preventative effect, it's good to know meditation is free and easy to access for everyone. To get started, our beginner's guide to meditation can take you through the benefits of mindfulness, some pitfalls to watch out for and guide you through your first session with the help of a meditation expert. 

There are also lots of free guided meditation sessions available online to follow along to at home, like the one below: 

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Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.