19:18 25 January 2017
An inexpensive eight-week meditation course championed by Hollywood stars Emma Watson and Angelina Jolie has been proven to lower levels of stress hormones, which can lead to high blood pressure.
The course, which is based on Buddhist philosophy, can be far more effective than typical stress management techniques, such as time management and eating better, when combined with light stretching and careful breathing.
The study's lead author, Dr Elizabeth Hoge of Massachusetts General Hospital, said: 'This is not just a fad, it has been around for thousands of years in Buddhist countries, and we have found it helps people in a very practical sense.
'We think it works because it helps people create a little bit of distance between their thoughts and themselves, seeing that their worries will pass.'
The research, which was published in the journal Psychiatry Research, involved 89 patients with generalized anxiety disorder – a condition of chronic and excessive worrying. The participants went through three main tenents of mindfulness, first focusing closely on their breathing and then different parts of their body followed by some gentle Hatha yoga stretching exercises.
The participants were then tested for levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone, which is triggered by stress. Their levels were lowered and they were found to be able to cope with stressful situations.