Brexit outrage: ‘Take 10 minutes of daily meditation’ to limit stress of leaving EU

Brexit consequences are ‘a fiasco’ says Jonathan Freedland

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A new study has revealed how guided meditation can help to reduce the tensions sparked by the Brexit debate. Experts from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm in Sweden looked at how meditation impacted a study group of 501 Remainers and 433 Leavers. The researchers randomly selected every participant to listen to one of two 10-minute audio recordings.

One meditative guide encouraged listeners to bring friendship and kindness to themselves and others in a certain form of meditation.

The other involved educational information about meditation, but was not considered a meditative process.

The researchers then analysed levels of what is known as affective polarization in the participants.

Affective polarisation refers to the split between the positive feelings one has towards people with the same political beliefs as you, and the negative feelings towards those on the opposite side.

Analysis of the results showed that there were lower levels of affective polarization in people who listened to the meditation compared with those who listened to the informational recording.

And questions answered by the participants revealed that those who listened to the meditation were likely able to have more understanding for the other side after listening.

Lead author Dr Otto Simonsson, said: “Statistical analysis of the results found lower levels for people who listened to the meditation versus those who listened to the informational recording.

“Additional questions answered by the participants suggested the underlying psychological mechanism for this effect may involve an increase in perceived commonality between sides for those who listened to the meditation.”

The study authors said: “The results in this study build on previous findings and provide additional support for the potential benefits of meditation in political contexts.”

The 2016 referendum result caused headaches for remainers, with the use of antidepressants soaring by 13 percent after the Brexit vote.

But after this breakthrough study, the tensions over the political divide in the country could be eased thanks to guided mediation, the study authors suggested.

Dr Simonsson said: “These findings suggest an audio-guided befriending meditation could help boost perceived commonality between opposing political groups, and thereby reduce affective polarisation.

“Such a strategy could be employed in public campaigns in the UK to address polarisation between remainers and leavers.”

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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But this was not the only study that has looked at the levels of stress induced by Brexit for remainers.

A UCL study in 2021 found that two-fifths, or 42 percent of adults aged 18-29 reported being stressed about Brexit.

This was more than the proportion of the same age group are worried that were worried about catching Covid-19, which was 32 percent.

Lead author, Dr Daisy Fancourt (UCL Epidemiology and Health Care) said: “It is not surprising that younger people are most worried about the impact of Brexit.

“A greater proportion of younger people voted to Remain than to Leave in the 2016 Brexit referendum and the ongoing news about the ramifications of leaving the EU for jobs, finances and businesses is likely to have a greater impact on younger people.“

“There is also the perception among younger people that they are at lower risk from Covid-19 and that even if they do catch the disease, they are unlikely to become seriously ill.

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