Overcome negative thoughts through meditation
Do you ever find yourself caught in an endless cycle of negative thoughts? Perhaps you ruminate on past mistakes, worry excessively about the future, or imagine doomsday scenarios?
ANALYSIS – Do you sometimes have a great day, everything is going well, and then your brain says, “Remember that time you made a fool of yourself in front of everyone?” Let's relive that moment for the next 20 minutes.” And suddenly, your good day turns into a festival of discomfort.
If so, know that you are not alone. Many people struggle with repetitive negative thoughts, and it can have a big impact on mental health and well-being.
The devastating effects of repetitive negative thoughts
Repetitive Negative Thoughts (RPTs) are a cognitive process characterized by persistent and intrusive reflection on past events, commonly known as rumination, and apprehensions about future possibilities, often referred to as worry.
PNRs are a recurring, unwanted, and difficult to dislodge thought pattern that is implicated in the onset and perpetuation of various mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, PNRs have been associated with poor physical health and have been linked to an increased likelihood of future health problems. PNRs can negatively impact sleep quality, reduce efficiency, and hamper decision-making abilities. changes in brain morphology, leading to a decrease in general cognitive abilities and increasing the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Even at low levels, PNRs can have adverse effects on the cardiovascular, autonomic nervous and endocrine systems.
So what would be the most effective strategy for managing PNRs? Research has shown a negative correlation between PNRs and mindful presence, implying that a low level of mindful presence may increase susceptibility to PNRs.
As coordinator of the area of expertise in caregivers at the Center for Research and Expertise in Social Gerontology, I want to shed light on the negative impact of repetitive negative thoughts on the mental and physical health of caregivers.
Journey to the Present: The Transformative Power of Mindful Presence
Mindful presence can be considered a mental faculty or skill that can be developed through regular practice. It is about cultivating a benevolent and receptive awareness of the present moment, without being judgmental about what is happening. The goal is to be fully engaged in what is happening now, rather than wandering into the past or worrying about the future.
There are two main styles of practicing mindfulness: focused attention meditation and open attention meditation. Focused attention meditation involves choosing a specific object, such as the breath, and paying full attention to it. Whenever the mind wanders, it is simply brought back to the object of concentration. In contrast, open mindfulness meditation is about being aware of whatever is happening in the present moment. Instead of trying to focus on a specific object, one simply observes whatever emerges in the experience, including thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations.
But what happens in the brain during these practices? Recent studies have revealed that only focused attention meditation leads to a deactivation of the “default mode network” – a network of brain areas that are normally active when we are not focused on a particular task. This network is involved in “resting state” thinking, which involves repetitive negative thinking. By turning off the “default mode network”, focused attention meditation can help reduce this type of harmful thinking.
Reduce repetitive negative thoughts: a step forward for caregivers
As part of our project, we will develop and examine an intervention to reduce NRPs among caregivers.
According to a recent report, more than 8 million Canadians aged 15 more, or 25% of the population, provide care for a family member or friend with a chronic illness, disability or aging-related needs.
While helping can be rewarding, it can also be difficult and stressful, especially for those providing complex or intensive care. Chronic stress is a common experience for caregivers and it can impact their health and well-being. A survey of caregivers revealed that their top needs were emotional health (58 %) and physical health (32%). PNRs are strongly associated with caregiver burden and predict negative impacts on the physical and mental health of caregivers.
We will recruit 100 caregivers with high levels of PNR. The intervention will be presented to participants in the form of interactive videos that will guide them in the practice of focused attention meditation. We will measure changes in PNRs, stress, anxiety, depression and quality of life before and after the intervention, as well as at a follow-up six months after the intervention.
If the intervention is effective, it could serve as the basis for the development of an innovative tool for monitoring and reducing PNR. This tool could be deployed as a mobile application or on virtual reality platforms, giving caregivers access to an intervention that they can use at their convenience. This could significantly expand the reach of the intervention, making it more accessible and convenient for caregivers who may not have the time or resources to participate in traditional face-to-face interventions.
Overall, the potential of the focused attention meditation intervention to improve the mental and physical health of caregivers, as well as the development of new, innovative tools, represents a promising avenue in the field of caregiver support services. caregivers. Further research and implementation of such interventions could significantly improve the quality of life of caregivers and people being cared for.
After all, in the words of philosopher Marcus Aurelius, “the happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts”.
This text was written by Anna Andrianova, coordinator in the field of expertise in close care at the Center for Research and Expertise in Social Gerontology (CREGÉS) . Ph.D. candidate and lecturer at Université Laval.
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.