Mindfulness and Your Health

By Desneiges “Dee” Young, LPC, M.ED. – Behavioral Health

Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been linked to improving both physical and mental health.

How does living in the moment actually help, especially if you have a very busy life? When we allow our minds to reside in the future, we run the risk of increasing our anxiety. In the same way, when we dwell on the past, depression may easily take root. Staying in the present is the great equalizer. Focusing on one thing at a time can save time and avoid time consuming mistakes or missed information. When we learn to do this through a mindfulness practice, it improves our concentration and makes it easier to add a calmness into other areas of our day.

How can mindfulness help me?

Mindfulness studies show a connection to mental health benefits, including decreased anxiety, improved focus, and less emotional reactivity, reports the American Psychiatric Association.  Therapy based on mindfulness is being used to prevent relapse in depression; in addition, mindfulness is currently being used to treat anxiety, ADHD, and substance abuse.

A regular mindfulness practice has also been shown to help physical health in the following ways:

  • help relieve stress
  • treat heart disease
  • lower blood pressure
  • reduce chronic pain
  • improve sleep
  • alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties

What can I do to practice mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a skill that can be learned. Daily practice is important, but start small. If all you can find is a minute or two – that’s enough. As you experience the benefits, you can add a few minutes at a time, or practice it more than once per day.

One popular, free app for a smartphone is “Virtual Hope Box.” Under the heading Relax Me, there are exercises for deep, controlled breathing as well as guided meditations. Inspirational quotes are also available on the app.

Keep reading this blog to learn more about mindfulness tips, resources and how to add it to your family’s life.