It has long been argued that Western medicine doesn’t know everything. In recent years, mindfulness and other ‘wellness’ practices have started to overshadow the more tangible forms of treatment, with proven results.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a state of mind which is achieved by focusing on the present moment. This means calmly and rationally acknowledging how you feel, physically and mentally. Doing this allows you to reflect on and identify the cause of what is making you feel this way, be it good or bad.
Simply put, it is a basic form of meditation which has only recently been acknowledged in the West. It is a form of self-analysis without being critical of your body or state of mind; it merely helps you to assess your physical and psychological wellness.
So, just what are some of the benefits of practising mindfulness?
General health improvements
Studies have shown that mindfulness can increase a range of behaviours related to your general health and safety. These behaviours include things like getting regular health checks at your doctors, remembering to wear a seatbelt and exercising more regularly. This is because you are more ‘mindful’ of your health and general wellbeing, so you are more focused on being and remaining healthy.
A reduction in work-related stress
Whether you are a new starter at a junior level or a chief executive, practically everyone suffers from workplace stress, at least from time to time. Practising mindfulness has been linked to lower levels of stress at work and an increase in job satisfaction. This then translates into a greater performance at work, which can lead to promotions and more money.
Aid in cancer recovery
A study in breast cancer survivors suggested that mindfulness can increase posttraumatic growth in cancer patients, while also diminishing stress and anxiety.
Depression is no longer the taboo topic it once was; in fact, a quarter of people in the UK suffer from some form of depression. Mindfulness has long been considered an effective treatment for depression, particularly in younger people. The exercise of self-analysis teaches self-compassion, allowing you to deal with your worries in a more rational and understanding way.
If you are overweight, mindfulness could be your salvation. Research has shown that mindfulness encourages people to improve their eating habits, take more regular exercise and, ultimately, lose weight.
Lower blood pressure
Mindfulness has been directly linked with lower blood pressure. The improved and calmer state of mind, combined with a healthier lifestyle and diet, has a significant impact on blood pressure levels.
Increase in attention and focus
It can be difficult to empty your mind and focus on just you, especially if you haven’t done it before. However, turning your back on technology and distractions for 30 minutes to practice mindfulness each day can have real benefits for your concentration levels.