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What is Mindfulness and How It Can Improve Your Health

Hi everyone, in this blog I will focus on the practice of mindfulness and its health benefits. I was in the mood to geek out this weekend 🙂 I did some simple research on how mindfulness practice relates to the leading causes of death and health factors associated with these leading causes of death. All in all, I believe mindfulness is a useful practice that we all should experience. These exercises can be used daily or as needed, depending on how you like it. At the end of this blog I list helpful websites that give tips on how to incorporate mindful practice into your life and that of your family.

What is Mindfulness ?? 

Simply put, mindfulness is defined as “paying attention to present moment experiences with openness, curiosity and a willingness to be with what is.” (UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center). Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the mindfulness-based stress reduction program, provides a more detailed and clear explanation of the essence of mindfulness. Mindfulness based interventions include meditation, body scan, guided imagery, and yoga. Mindfulness is also used as part of different psychotherapy approaches.

Mindfulness practices and interventions are mental health and physical health promoting behaviors that can be effective in combination with medical treatments and other reliable techniques (exercise, healthy diet, cognitive behavioral therapies, etc). Daily practice of mindfulness meditation or interventions for 4 weeks or more (as adjunct to first line medical treatments) is associated with:

  • Cardiac: Improved exercise capacity and heart rate among those with heart disease; decreased depression and anxiety which impacts heart health and function (Gotink, et al 2017; Younge et al, 2015; Chaddha, et al, 2016).

 

  • Cancer: Decreased cancer-related fatigue; improved mood and decreased stress levels among cancer survivors (Johns et al, 2014; Carlson, 2016).

 

  • Pain: Decreased pain intensity among this with chronic pain (Khusid & Vythilingsam, 2016; Chierkin, et al 2016).

 

  • Neurological Disorders: Less fatigue among those with traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, or stroke (Ulrichsen, et al, 2016).

 

  • Diabetes: Improved blood glucose control (HbA1c). improved anxiety and mood management, and improved mindful eating, physical exercises, and sticking with lifestyle recommendations for preventing and managing pre-diabetic and diabetic symptoms (Pearson et al, 2018; Medina, et. Al 2017).

 

  • Psychological, behavioral: Improved management of depression symptoms, anxiety symptoms & worrying, stress, insomnia, and binge and impulsive eating behaviors. (Hoge et al, 2018; Xu, et al 2017; Khusid & Vythilingsam, 2016; Ruffault, 2017).

 

A sampling of websites that have suggested exercises and mindfulness information:

https://www.pocketmindfulness.com/ : Straight-forward and quick reading blog that helps readers learn about, understand, and apply mindfulness in everyday life.

https://www.wildmind.org/  : I like the writings on self-compassion and inspiration for daily practice, such as walking meditations

https://www.headspace.com/unemployed (popular application that is free until 2021)

<3Be well !!

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