Strengthening your resilience with mindful meditation or yoga can help keep the doctors away, thereby reducing your health care cost, says a new study.
Resilience can be enhanced with practice, starting with the relaxation response — a physiologic state of deep rest induced by practices such as rhythmic breathing, mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi or prayer, the study said.
The researchers found that people who graduated from a resiliency-boosting programme used considerably less health care services in the year following the course compared with the year before.
“We have shown in the past that it works in the laboratory and on the level of individual physiology, and now we can see that when you make people well, they do not want to use health care so much,” said study leader James Stahl from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Centre in New Hampshire, US.
For the study, the researchers tested the efficacy of eight-week course developed by the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).
To measure the effect of this programme called Relaxation Response Resiliency Programme (3RP) on health care utilisation, the study compared health care used by more than 4,400 3RP graduates to that of 13,150 patients who did not take the 3RP course.
In the year after training, use of health care services by the resiliency programme graduates dropped by 43 percent.
The researchers noted that it is possible to build resilience without any formal training.
Resilience comes in part from making meaningful connections with other people, such as through volunteer work, care-taking for aging relatives, and other service work.
In addition, positive psychology research shows that having an optimistic outlook and a sense of connectedness, meaning, and purpose in your life contributes to resilience.
This includes learning how to identify and challenge day-to-day negative attitudes that can undermine health.
“Just like fluorinating your water or vaccinating yourself, these are ways of keeping you healthy with, from a public health perspective, minimal investment,” Stahl said.
The study was published in the journal PLOS One.