7 Reasons Practicing Mindfulness is Good for Your Health
Life is busy. That’s the default of today’s culture – to be busy. Between work or school responsibilities, family, friends, health, to-do lists, and, of course, the constant pull to be the best version of yourself on social media, it’s a lot to handle.
So when was the last time you sat down and just were? You know, when you clear your mind, breathe in the positives of life, and peacefully soak in the greatness of the present moment? In other words, when was the last time you practiced mindfulness?
It’s probably been a while. (Unless you’re a mindfulness guru. If that’s the case, we applaud you!)
You might think things like,
“Yeah, sounds great. But who has time for that?”
“What am I, a monk?”
We get it. Those are valid questions. As we mentioned, you’re busy. You’ve got stuff to do and things to stress about. And yes, practicing mindfulness has its roots in ancient eastern Buddhist philosophy.
Whatever your hesitations are, you shouldn’t ignore the health benefits of mindfulness. They’re pretty astounding.
What Exactly is Mindfulness?
In a nutshell, to practice mindfulness means you purposefully live in the present moment by paying attention in a non-judgmental way. Basically, it’s living in the here and now without thinking about the future or the past. It’s about taking each moment as they come.
Our minds tend to analyze, think about, and try to figure things out. That’s what it’s supposed to do. Practicing mindfulness is a way to control your mind and stay more present-focused. It helps to still your mind, and that’s something everyone could use more of.
When practicing mindfulness, you purposely make yourself aware of each feeling, thought, and sensation that arises in the current moment. While doing this, you actively acknowledge and accept what you’re feeling, no matter what it is.
It may sound simple. You may think, “So I just live my life in the moment, and I’m practicing mindfulness. Easy!” But it can actually be pretty challenging. It takes practice to put worries out of your mind and live presently. When you learn how to do it successfully, you’ll experience many health benefits of mindfulness.
What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness?
1. Reduced Stress Levels
One of the most significant mindfulness benefits is its ability to lower your stress levels. This was the core focus of Kabat-Zinn’s MBSR program. The American Psychological Association states that mindfulness can help you soothe feelings of stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness has been shown to reduce the following symptoms of stress:
- poor sleeping patterns
- restless mind
- trouble concentrating
- jaw clenching
- lack of energy
2. Improved Cognitive Abilities
Scientific evidence points to mindfulness improving your ability to think more clearly and flexibly. In other words, it can help change the way you think.
One of the mindfulness benefits is your improved ability to focus your attention on something for an extended period, despite any outside distractions. Mindfulness can also help you shift from one focus to another easily.
3. Better Overall Well-Being
When you are better able to take in and appreciate each moment life brings you, you’re less likely to get caught up in your worries and everyday stressors. Being less preoccupied with these things can help you fully engage in whatever activity you’re in and allow for a greater capacity to deal with more negative and unpleasant events.
Those who regularly practice mindfulness have been shown to have a more positive outlook on their lives.
4. Improved Physical Health
The benefits of mindfulness go beyond feeling more content in your life. Because mindfulness is such a powerful aid in stress reduction, it also has numerous health benefits.
A 2016 study by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) revealed the health benefits of regular mindfulness meditation practice:
- lowered blood pressure
- reduced stress in those with multiple sclerosis
- improved PTSD symptoms
- decreased headaches
- increased immune function
- fewer symptoms of restless leg syndrome
When you practice mindfulness regularly, you’re also more likely to stay engaged in keeping yourself healthy. In other words, you’re more likely to get regular checkups, exercise, and use less alcohol and nicotine.
5. Decreased Depression
While mindfulness alone isn’t a recommended treatment method for depression, practicing mindfulness regularly can help reduce its symptoms. One type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), called Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), incorporates both CBT and mindfulness.
Research shows that MBCT effectively treats depression and can help prevent a relapse of depressive symptoms.
6. Improved Emotional Regulation
One of the most impactful mindfulness benefits is its ability to help you improve how you control your emotions or your emotional regulation. Because you stay present in the moment when practicing mindfulness, you’re better able to identify your feelings and manage them more effectively.
7. Stronger Interpersonal Relationships
While the evidence is still forthcoming, there has been enough research and proof of the positive effects of mindfulness on interpersonal relationships.
One study reveals that those who practice mindfulness are more accepting of their partner’s imperfections, quirks, and flaws. And when you’re more comfortable and satisfied in your relationship, your overall well-being is also improved.
How to Practice Mindfulness
There are three basic principles when practicing mindfulness.
- Focus on your breathing – Take deep breaths in and out, paying attention to each moment. Notice your belly and chest rising and falling and the sensation of the air moving in and out of your nose and mouth.
- Stay in the moment – Your mind may wander, or distractions may take your focus away from the present moment. Do your best to bring your attention to where you are right now. Ground yourself by taking in your surroundings, how you feel, tastes, smells, sounds, and things you touch.
- Accept yourself – It’s important not to judge yourself when practicing mindfulness. Accept yourself as you are in this moment, without judgment. Don’t rate how well you think you’re doing – just be.
There are several mindfulness exercises you can do to help you improve staying in the moment:
- mindful breathing
- mindful movement
- body scan meditation
- mindful eating
- walking meditation
- sitting meditation
Get Help Practicing Mindfulness Through Mental Health Services in San Diego
Regularly practicing mindfulness takes discipline, focus, and dedication. In today’s busy world, that’s hard to come by. But the benefits of mindfulness can be incredibly rewarding for your physical, mental, and relational health.
So how can you learn how to practice more effectively?
With the help of a mental health professional.
Our team of clinicians at BOLD Health includes clinicians well-versed in the art of practicing mindfulness. With our help, we can help you reduce anxiety and depression through individual therapy methods, group therapy, or our highly-effective Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) in San Diego. We can incorporate mindfulness practices into your treatment plan, so you’ll benefit from therapy and become an expert on practicing mindfulness.
Contact us to learn more about our comprehensive mental health services in San Diego. We’d love to equip you with all the tools and strategies you need to overcome anxiety, depression, or any other mental health concern, including the incredible tool of mindfulness meditation.