Improve Your Overall Health With Mindfulness
Stress and anxiety play a role in diseases and conditions ranging from high blood pressure to asthma to heart disease. In addition to causing serious health problems, even occasional stress can lead to headaches and upset stomachs. Luckily, changing your mindset and practicing mindfulness can lower your stress level and reduce your risk of developing common diseases.
The Power of Positive Thinking
Negative thoughts can quickly become self-fulfilling prophecies. If you assume that you won't get the job or stick to your diet, you probably won't. When your life is ruled by negativity, you may subconsciously sabotage your efforts to succeed.
Positive thinking can help you condition your thoughts to become more optimistic. For example, you may want to say, "I don't know why I'm even trying this diet. I know I won't lose weight." If you change the negative self-talk to "I'm going to stick to this diet, exercise every day and do my best to lose eight pounds in the next two months," you'll be much more likely to lose weight.
Positive thinking offers proven health benefits. It can boost your immune system and improve your heart health, which may even extend your lifespan. When positive thinking becomes part of your daily life, you may also find that it's easier to cope with stress and disappointments.
The Health Benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness and meditation, key aspects of yoga, offer important health advantages. Mindfulness refers to living in the moment and concentrating on your movements, feelings, thoughts, and surroundings.
Meditation involves clearing your mind of thoughts and focusing on an image or mantra while practicing deep breathing. If stray thoughts pass through your mind while you're practicing yoga, you acknowledge them, then let them drift out of your consciousness.
Both mindfulness and meditation reduce stress, lower anxiety, and provide a sense of enhanced well-being. Best of all, they can be performed no matter where you are. Although a 20 or 30-minute mindfulness or meditation session may be ideal, spending even a few minutes increasing your awareness and calming your mind can reduce stress and improve your mood.
Regular mindfulness sessions decreased high blood pressure in a group of men and women diagnosed with pre-high blood pressure in a study reported in Psychosomatic Medicine. Participants experienced decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure after participating in mindfulness training for 2.5 hours per week for eight weeks.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause devastating effects throughout your body. The disease may damage and narrow arteries, cause blood clots and strokes, enlarge the heart, impair vision, lead to sexual dysfunction, or cause heart and kidney failure. Mindfulness may enable you to lower your medication dosage or even control your blood pressure without medication.
In another study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, mindfulness decreased the severity of participant's irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms. IBS causes bloating, cramps, abdominal pain, gas, constipation, and diarrhea and can be triggered by stress or anxiety.
During the study, women were randomly assigned to a traditional support group or a mindfulness training group. Those who participated in the mindfulness group experienced less severe IBS symptoms at the conclusion of the study and in the three months following their participation in the study.
Regular mindfulness sessions can also reduce cell aging, enhance drug addiction treatment, improve immune system functioning and heart health, and help you lower your cancer risk. Mindfulness boosts memory and may even reduce cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer's disease.
Practicing positive thinking and mindfulness not only offers a simple way to avoid diseases that can damage your health but may also help you recover more quickly if you do become sick. Yoga classes are the perfect place to learn about mindfulness, meditation, and positive thinking. Contact us to learn which of our classes is ideal for you.
NCBI: Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Pre-Hypertension, 10/13
Mayo Clinic: Positive Thinking: Stop Negative Self-Talk to Reduce Stress
Greater Good Magazine: Five Ways Mindfulness Meditation Is Good for Your Health, 10/24/18
NCBI: Meditation and Coronary Heart Disease: A Review of the Current Clinical Evidence
NCBI: Mindfulness Training Reduces the Severity of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Women: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial