Lonely? Try Meditation - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Lonely? Try Meditation

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Feeling lonely is not healthy; however, meditation may help.

Feeling lonely has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, Alzheimer's, depression and premature death and inflammation in the body may play a role. That's according to previous research.

A new study suggests that meditation can help stave off feelings of loneliness and may cut the body's inflammatory response to distressing emotions.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh conducted an eight-week program of mindfulness-based stress reduction involving mostly women ages 55-85.

The women reported a reduced sense of loneliness on an established ratings scale. Blood tests also indicated a significant decrease in detected inflammation-related genes.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction attunes the mind to the present and avoids dwelling on the past or projecting into the future.

Doctors believe meditation turns down the chronically stressed state people may be in, thereby turning down the pro-inflammatory cascade.

The study appears online in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.