Photo credit: Alice Popkorn/Flickr.com
Medical and mental health professionals have been discovering how mindfulness can be used to effectively improve health.
For decades professionals have known that chronic stress and anxiety can have profound effects on both physical and mental health.
Chronic stress can raise blood pressure, can cause memory loss, affects cognitive thinking, and contributes to depression.
Stress has also been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and increased accidents and injuries.
Practicing mindfulness can help to relieve chronic stress helping people feel less anxious and depressed and lowering their blood pressure.
It can also help people become more aware of their bodies, and help them identify when something doesn't feel quite right.
Mindfulness can also help people suffering from chronic pain manage their pain more effectively.
- Mindfulness for Better Mental Health
Depression often occurs when an individual is subjected to stress for a long period of time.
This stress can cause a person to become anxious, view the world negatively, and lead to negative thoughts which they can't seem to escape from.
Mindfulness practice allows individuals to slow down those adverse thought processes by focusing their mind on simple functions of the here and now, such as breathing, walking, or listening to music.
When you practice mindfulness activities, your focus shifts to one simple activity, you simply observe this activity without judgment.
As you concentrate on that one activity, your body begins to relax, tension flows from the body, and you begin to feel more relaxed, less overwhelmed, and free from stress and worry.
Practicing mindfulness meditation on a regular basis can help to relieve stress and elevate your mood, which in turn helps to relieve depression, letting you feel more hopeful and happier.
- Mindfulness For Better Emotional HealthMindfulness for Health
When too much is going on in our minds we begin to feel overwhelmed, and this feeling of weight on our minds and shoulders, affects us emotionally.
We find ourselves unable to view situations clearly, often focusing on the negative rather than the positive. We become upset, easily frustrated, and irritable.
Some people become tearful and overly sensitive. Others shut off emotionally or withdraw which can lead to all types of complications with family, friends, and relationships in general.
Practicing mindfulness works to clear the mind. It relieves that feeling of being overwhelmed by allowing us to focus on the here and now, on a single moment in time instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
By focusing on the moment, we are less likely to judge a situation based on past experiences, and are better able to view an event more realistically.
This allows us to deal with a current situation less emotionally, because we aren't viewing the situation with negative connotations based on past experiences.
Mindfulness practice allows us to control our emotions and reduce our tendency to become upset, hostile or irritable.
- Mindfulness For Physical HealthMindfulness for Health
Practicing mindfulness allows us to know and better understand how our bodies work.
This helps us to recognize when something is not quite right sooner than we otherwise would, which can result in seeking treatment faster, before a small problem becomes a big one.
Mindfulness mediation can also help people suffering from chronic pain manage their condition better.
When people experience pain on a continual basis they tend to focus much of their attention on the pain they feel or the pain they experienced in the past.
They worry that the pain will worsen in the future.
Studies show that focusing on pain can set up an emotional response where people actually feel more pain than just the physical pain.
Mindfulness practice can divert a person’s focus for a short period of time to something other than the pain.
For instance when you focus on your breathing, concentrating on how it feels to draw in each breath and release it, the way your chest and stomach expands, and the rise and fall of your shoulders, your mind lets go of the memory of past pain and the worry about future pain, and people find that the actual pain they are feeling diminishes.
Part of the reduction in pain is due to do the fact that they relax. Their muscles become less tense.
Part of the reduction in pain also has to do with the fact that by letting go of the memory of pain, and the worry of future pain, they only feel that pain that is here now, not the emotional pain that contributes to the physical pain.
Mindfulness practice can affect many aspects of our health, and when people feel healthier they can face the world more positively while experiencing less stress and anxiety.