By now, we all know the powerful benefits of meditation. It can help you heal pain, improve your sex life, improve your career, and assist with a host of other issues. But new research is giving us yet another reason to grab our mats, sit in peace, clear our heads, and get zen. It turns out that a quick 11 minutes of meditation can actually help you drink less alcohol.
According to a new study published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, being more mindful can make you more aware of the amount of alcohol you are consuming and will make you more intentional in your drinking. And this quick change of perspective can eventually lower your cravings overall.
To find the real drive behind cutting back on — or quitting — alcohol, researchers studied 68 adults who admitted they drink heavily and binge drink. The study subjects were then split into two groups. One group took part in a relaxation training that was meant to reduce their cravings. The other group listened to an 11-minute recording of simple mindfulness strategies. These audio guides focused on sensations — how alcohol makes them feel, and how cravings affect their moods — to show the temporary effects of these cravings.
The varying styles of mindfulness may not seem all that different, but researchers sure did see a difference and a very heavy liking for the meditation. In fact, in the week after they participated in the study, the meditation group had 9.3 fewer units of alcohol than they did the week before the study. The group that was taught to relax on the other hand saw no significant difference in their alcohol consumption.
“By being more aware of their cravings, we think the study participants were able to bring intention back into the equation, instead of automatically reaching for the drink when they feel a craving,” says lead author Sunjeev Kamboj.