This month in lifestyle choices I am discussing the benefits and practice of mindfulness.
What is mindfulness? How can it enhance our health and how exactly fo you practice it?
How does Mindfulness help your health?
The process of engaging with mindfulness has alway been linked to enhanced emotional and psychological wellbeing. It is regarded as an antidote to overworry, anxiety, fear and psychological distress. Studies have indicated higher levels of self-compassion and wellbeing with emerging evidence that regular practice is associated with enhanced cognition and concentration. These studies have indicated that there are actual changes in the brain that occur from thickening in the brain regions of attention, sensory processing, managing distracting events and emotions. Mindfulness has also been shown to lower cortisol levels in the blood. Cortisol is a steroid hormone often callled the stress hormone, but it also impacts on blood sugar levels, regulates metabolism, reduces inflammation and assist in memory formation,and overall health and well being. Lowering cortisol can have a significant impact on your health!
There was a Catalyst show on ABC last year where it looked at the practice of mindfulness across a wide range of people and monitored their brain changes. It was amazing to see how some people responded to it. (Catch up on iview).
What can it help you with?
Focus at work
Managing pain levels
Lowering Blood pressure
Alleviating gastrointestinal difficulties
Improve your mental health
Support a healthy immune response
And much, much more!
How do I practice Mindfulness?
Do I need to go off to the beach, hills or a retreat? No!
Do I need to sit crosslegged and hum? No!
I recommend apps for your phones (Smiling Mind, Calm. Headspace, Stop Breathe and Think). Many are free and very easy to use.
You can practice at your desk at work, in the car, in bed, while walking or even hiding out in the loo!. I recommend getting into the daily practice of 5 to 10 minutes per day but even 2 minutes can be enough to change your immediate thought pattern.
Using guided mindfulness is much easier to begin with as you are told what to do and when. Starting like this is a great way to check in with your body and how you are feeling.
Give it a go - What have you got to lose?