April is Stress Awareness Month, and if you're like nearly half of the American population, you can probably relate to having way too much stress in your life.
Yep, stress is a big problem. And, it seems to come from every direction. Work is busy, your mom calls too much, that guy you met on Bumble last week isn't texting you back -- the list goes on and on.
Instead of buying a couple of pints of Ben & Jerry's and mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram feed to deal, I challenge you to use this month to deal with stress in a way that's scientifically proven to be effective: meditation and exercise.
As a former meditation hater, I understand why this very suggestion is enough to add more stress to your life.
But, the correlation between meditation and stress has been studied for years -- there was a surprising amount of research done on it in the 1990s, when meditation was thought of as some serious hippie sh*t -- and the results are always the same. Meditating on a regular basis is a great way to reduce stress.
Add exercise, another proven way to reduce stress, into the mix, and you're basically golden.
In fact, a recent study took a closer look at what the combination of meditation and exercise does to our mental health, and the results are pretty awesome.
The study, conducted out of Rutgers University, had 52 participants, 22 of whom had been diagnosed with depression, practice half an hour of meditation before running on a treadmill for another half hour twice a week for eight weeks.
At the end of the study, the depressed participants saw a 40 percent reduction in their depression symptoms.
Yep, meditation and exercise are pretty damn powerful when it comes to taking care of your mental health.
So, give at least one of them a try this month. And if you're feeling really ambitious, take on both.
Citations: Meditation Plus Running as a Treatment for Depression (The New York TImes), Stressed out nation (American Psychological Association), Three-year follow-up and clinical implications of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention in the treatment of anxiety disorders (ScienceDirect), Physical Activity Reduces Stress (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), MAP training: combining meditation and aerobic exercise reduces depression and rumination while enhancing synchronized brain activity (Translational Psychiatry)