Mindfulness is an ancient technique that’s been practised by Buddhists for millennia, not only as a tool to better understand themselves but also to gain enlightenment. But recent research suggests that taking a leaf out of their mindfulness book can lead to increased happiness and better overall health.
Learning to maintain an in-the-moment awareness of our thoughts and surrounds is a powerful tool for mental health but practising mindfulness can also aid in the relief of stress and chronic pain, repair disordered sleeping, lower blood pressure and reduce gastrointestinal conditions. So what exactly is mindfulness and where do I sign up?
Put simply, mindfulness is the non-judgmental awareness of what we are experiencing in the moment. It is the intentional practice of living in the present and paying attention to our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and environment, mindfulness is a process that asks us to unleash our natural curiosity and suspend judgment, rather than hashing over the past or obsessing over the future. Mindfulness offers us the tools to rewire our thinking away from negativity, leading to better mental wellbeing through self acceptance and awareness.
Recent controlled studies suggest mindfulness can be as effective as anti depressants in managing depression, but its benefits for mental health are just the tip of the iceberg, as multiple studies show that it can have just as big an impact on our physical health.
Here are 10 ways your physical and mental health can be supported through the practise of mindfulness for wellbeing.
1. It helps to reduce stress
Practising mindfulness for wellbeing can result in lower levels of cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone. Results from an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction study showed a reduction in stress-evoked cortisol responses and self-reported psychological distress.
2. It can assist in treating anxiety and depression
Simple mindfulness practice has long been promoted as a tool to reduce the anxiety of anxiety. This was backed by a 2010 review of studies that found mindfulness to be a promising intervention in the treatment of anxiety, depression and other mood disorders.
3. It can be an effective tool in managing mental health issues
Mindfulness meditation results in a variety of positive psychological effects, making it an increasingly important tool in the treatment of a number of emotional and mental health issues including substance abuse, eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
4. It can improve cognitive function
Growing evidence suggests that cognitive training programs may have the potential to counteract or at least offset age-related cognitive decline with noted improvements in memory, cognitive function and quality of life.
5. It can be beneficial in the management of Alzheimer’s disease
A randomized clinical trial of people with Alzheimer’s disease demonstrated that the practice of mindfulness maintained cognitive function over a period of two years.
6. It can give your immune system a boost
The effects of meditation and mindfulness on the immune system shouldn’t be understated. Studies have shown the practise can result in an increase in the immune system’s helper adding a link to what helper cells are? cells as well as reduced markers of inflammation.
7. It can help you snooze
The effects of inadequate sleep on health are huge, increasing the risk of diabetes, heart disease, impaired metabolism, obesity, anxiety and depression. The good news is that as well as relaxing the body and releasing tension to make sleep easier, mindful meditation has been shown to be effective in the management of chronic insomnia.
8. It can provide relief from chronic pain
Mindfulness can offer relief from chronic pain. Statistically significant reductions were seen in present-moment pain and symptoms in a study into the effects of mindfulness meditation for the self-regulation of chronic pain.
9. It’s good for your gut
Practising mindful medication can be good for your gut. Studies have shown that specific mindfulness-based therapies can have a notable impact on the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease.
10. It can keep your heart healthy
Studies show that practising mindfulness can help to maintain a healthy blood pressure and even lower blood pressure in people suffering hypertension. In fact, people who practise mindful meditation are statistically less likely to suffer from heart attack and stroke. So, what are you waiting for? Start practising today. Your heart will love you for it.
Disclaimer: This article provides general information only, and does not constitute health or medical advice. If you have any concerns regarding your health, seek immediate medical attention.