How To Use Mindfulness To Improve Physical Health

If you’re like millions of Americans, your life continues to get busier and more hectic every day. Mounting job pressures, family conflicts, and financial hardships can get the best of you. The struggle is real.

The impact you suffer from the stress of life’s constant afflictions can take its toll. Contrary to popular belief, mindfulness not only benefits your mental fortitude, it also enhances your physical condition.

Learn why and how to use mindfulness to improve physical health. It can be a surprisingly simple and effective path toward your overall well-being.

What’s the buzz about living mindfully?

The concept of mindful living is everywhere. But beyond the buzz of it being the answer to stress or an alternative to anti-anxiety drugs what is it?

Mindfulness is the action of being and living in the present moment; taking time to become aware of your inner sensations and surrounding environment. Your thoughts, emotions, and bodily stimulations are in tune with what’s happening around you on purpose.

A fundamental component of mindfulness involves acceptance; give yourself the choice of what you are bringing to mind. This means that you must consciously pay attention to what you are thinking and feeling at any given time instead of allowing your mind to rehash your past or imagine your future.

Stress and its physical effect on your quality of life.

Stress can take a physical toll on your body when you face continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between difficulties. Stress related ailments and complaints are responsible for 75 to 90% of all doctor visits in the US.

A mindfulness practice trains you to be more sensitive to the needs of your physical body. Chronic stress can have a ripple effect, translating emotional strain into physical pain. Studies reveal that practicing mindfulness heightens body awareness and has stress-busting benefits to your physical health.

Physical benefits of a mindfulness practice.

Reduces Pain— Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn is the creator of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. His Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a program that incorporates mindfulness to assist people with pain, illness, anxiety and stress.

Researchers speculate that those who practice meditation develop the ability to exert greater control over unpleasant feelings, including pain, by turning them down as if using a “volume knob” in the brain.

Decreases Risk of Heart Disease—If you live your life in a constant state of stress and you don’t have a way to manage it, you are more likely to have heart disease, chest pain or irregular heartbeats.

Because stress raises your blood pressure, it’s not good for your body to constantly be exposed to stress hormones. Studies also link stress to changes in the way blood clots; making a heart attack more likely.

Eases Migraine Headaches—Emotional stress is a common trigger of migraine headaches. The throbbing pain can be disabling and is often severe enough to hamper your daily activities.

While it is unreasonable to completely avoid stress, incorporating a mindfulness practice into your daily routine can help you cope. Be aware of what your body is telling you. By recognizing the onset of muscle tension and changes in body temperature—that are signals of stress—you can begin to take control of the debilitating effects of migraine headaches.

Fosters a Healthy Body Image—Body image and self-confidence begin in the mind, not in the mirror. It is estimated that 24 million Americans suffer from eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia nervosa—and they have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. But recent research suggests that mindfulness could be an effective form of treatment.

The study results show that participants who reported approaching experiences non-judgmentally and being present in the moment—two key aspects of being mindful—had a healthier relationship with food, their bodies, and themselves.

Enhances Quality of Sleep—You lie in bed, anxious and uneasy, worrying about things that haven’t even happened. You try desperately to relax, quiet your mind, and fall asleep. If you suffer from chronic stress day in and day out, you probably experience poor sleep quality and find it harder to focus at work and at home, leading to even more stress.

Practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques during the day can help improve sleep quality at night. A University of Utah study shows that higher mindful people described less cognitive and physiological activation before bedtime, suggesting that greater emotional stability during the day might translate into better sleep.

The Power of a Mindfulness Practice

Ancient mindfulness and relaxation techniques are steadily growing in western culture as an effective alternative to medical treatment. People who enjoy a regular mindfulness practice have been saying for centuries what medical science is now more inclined to be accepting as actual fact; methods of relaxation can also have a positive effect on your physical health.

When you are living every day in crisis mode, you are constantly activating the body’s stress response. More than likely, you don’t even realize how physically stressed and unbalanced you are until you make some time for peace and quiet. Learning how to use mindfulness to improve physical health can not only make you feel better right now, but it will protect your health for the long-term.

I am a corporate wellness consultant. As a master yoga instructor, I support in-house wellness programs, seminars, trade shows and executive retreats. I help business leaders build and maintain physical and mental well-being. If you would like to learn more about offering a health and fitness program to your busy management team contact me at [email protected] or 386.871.0582



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