Benefits of mindfulness

Emotional wellbeing

5 April 2019

Did you know that mindfulness can help to improve your mental and physical wellbeing? From anxiety and depression to heart health, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and insomnia– mindfulness can help you manage a whole host of conditions – but how? 

Practicing mindfulness helps to reduce your stress levels. Stress materialises itself in a number of ways in the body, and by using mindfulness to reduce your stress, you’re likely to see a number of improvements to your own physical and mental health.

When we’re being mindful, our brains are being exercised. Like with any muscle in the body, the more it’s used the stronger and more flexible it becomes. When this happens to the brain, it’s called neuroplasticity. By having increased neuroplasticity, we’re able to feel calmer, happier, relaxed and less stressed. Just like with learning any new skill, however, it takes practice. 

Heart health 
Mindfulness has been shown to lower blood pressure, which in turn reduces the amount of stress on the heart. Putting the heart at prolonged levels of stress can lead to symptoms such as angina. Breathing is a big part of mindfulness and by simply taking time to think about your breathing can help to reduce your blood pressure. If you do this regularly, you can even reduce the risk of developing stress related heart conditions. 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) 
When we feel stressed, our bodies tense up and don’t work as well as they normally do. This causes problems around the body – and the digestive system is just one part that can suffer. To digest our food, our intestines and stomachs need to produce acid and be relaxed enough to move the food through the digestive tract. When we are stressed and tense, this doesn’t happen as well as it would normally and causes symptoms such as IBS. Mindfulness can help us to let go of tension and relax, which allows our bodies to work the way they should. Read more about it in our nutrition and mindfulness article.  

Insomnia 
Our brains are really good at keeping a log of all the things we need to do and think about, but sometimes, it struggles to turn itself off for the night when it’s not needed. When this happens, we find ourselves not being able to fall asleep, which leads to frustration and fatigue. Mindfulness helps us to close these to do lists and put things down for the evening, allowing us to fall asleep and get the rest we need. For more information read our sleep and mindfulness article

Anxiety and depression 
Remember, the brain is a muscle, and the more we use a muscle, the stronger it gets. When we are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, we’re exercising another part of the brain. Prolonged periods of worry and anxiety make that part of the brain stronger, and it starts to spend more and more time demanding attention from us. The stronger this muscle gets, the harder it is to ignore what it’s telling us or making us think about – we start to lose control of our emotional responses.  There’s a part of our brain called the Amygdala, which is responsible for our ‘fight or flight’ response. It’s the part of the brain that controls our anxiety and fear emotions. It’s been shown in patients who suffer from anxiety, that when mindfulness is practiced over a series of weeks, this part of the brain is reduced, allowing us to be more in control of it.