According to a study conducted by the Universities of Exeter and Oxford, thinking compassionate thoughts about yourself and others has physical benefits. By taking time for
self-compassion, you can decrease your body’s threat response, lower heart rate and even boost your immune system.
In the past, studies have shown a link between self-care and higher levels of overall health and well being, but scientist didn’t understand why.
“Our study is helping us understand the mechanism of how being kind to yourself when things go wrong could be beneficial in psychological treatments. By switching off our threat response, we boost our immune systems and give ourselves the best chance of healing.”
Mindfully decreasing our threat response, increases relaxation, which is a key factor in allowing the body to regenerate and heal. Our threat response, includes ” increased heart rate and sweating, the release of the stress hormone cortisol and over-activity of the amygdala, an integral part of the brain’s emotional network. And a persistent threat response can impair the immune system.”
The study asked participants to listen to either compassionate audio recordings or critical and competitive recordings. Scientists would then record their vitals and ask them a series of questions.
Those encouraged to practice self-compassion had a lower heart rate and a general feeling of “safety.” While those who listen to negative critical audio statements had an increase in heart rate and a higher sweat response.
Although the study was done with people with no record of mental illness, researchers believe that meeting negative thoughts with compassionate can be highly beneficial to not only mental health but physical health as well.
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