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Benefits of Mindfulness

Learn about some of the impacts mindfulness has on the mind and body.

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A few weeks ago, Nate Rowan gave you a brief introduction to the wonderful practice that is mindfulness. For a quick recap, mindfulness is about living in the present moment. By taking a few minutes out of your day to practice mindfulness exercises, you can refocus your mind on the present moment, releasing the worries of the past and calming the anxieties of the future. While mindfulness may seem like a simple activity, its benefits are astounding.

Practicing mindfulness techniques can have a positive effect on your physical health. If you remember from last week, mindfulness can help reduce stress by allowing the mind to breathe and escape the chaotic world around it. Alleviating the everyday stresses can help reduce physical pain, improve the quality of your sleep, lower your blood pressure, lower the risks of heart disease, and ease gastrointestinal issues, many of which can be caused by stress. [1]

In addition to the physical benefits, mindfulness can have on the body, the cognitive functions of the mind can be improved. Meditation is one method for stimulating synaptic connections within your brain, which can result in an increase in gray matter in different regions of the brain. [3] The prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for emotional regulation and problem-solving, and the hippocampus, which is responsible for the ability to memorize and learn, are two regions which are predominantly affected by meditation. [3] Stimulating synaptic connections within these two regions can increase your ability to problem-solve and reduce the risk of developing mental disorders related to stress. [3] Due to the ability mindfulness has to tap into regions of the brain, meditation can boost your cognitive flexibility, which will allow you to respond faster to problematic situations, improve your focus, and reduce tendencies to act on emotionally-driven impulses. [2] When people encounter emotionally upsetting situations, some have a tendency to respond in a rash manner, which can sometimes worsen the situation. Practicing meditation, however, can help enhance a person’s ability to disengage from the troubling situation and allow him or her to think through their predicament and reach a solution.

While your days may be packed with responsibilities that take up most of your focus, keeping up with your health is extremely important. Do yourself a favor, and take a few minutes out of your day to improve your physical and mental well-being with mindfulness.

[1] https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/benefits-of-mindfulness.htm

[2] http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner.aspx

[3] https://www.mindful.org/how-the-brain-changes-when-you-meditate/

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