Mindfulness Tied to Better Physical Health

October 28th, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life

I’ve been talking  a lot about mindfulness and mediation lately. It’s the focus of all of my favorite (and effective!) stress relieving techniques. I’ve been meditating a few times a week, usually no longer than 5-10 minutes at a time, and I can always tell an immediate difference. My stress is lowered, my mood is improved, and I just feel physically better.

Be here now

 

{From one of my favorite, hippiest, books I’ve ever read – Be Here Now. That book will change your life, if you’re ready for it}

New research is supporting my experience that mindfulness, not just in meditation but in every day life, can help improve physical health.

Participants with high Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) scores had an 83 percent greater prevalence of good cardiovascular health (as measured by the composite score) compared to those with relatively low MAAS scores. High vs. low MAAS scores were associated with significantly higher cardiovascular health on four of seven individual indicators: BMI, physical activity, fasting glucose, and avoiding smoking.

When I first quit smoking the only reason I was successful (the third time around!) was by becoming mindful of my cravings. I would sense one coming on, recognize it as a physical response that will pass, and let it go. I used to get so upset thinking of all the future times I wouldn’t be able to smoke, but once I learned to be mindful of my present state and craving it was so much easier to manage.

For those of you interested in meditating more I found two GREAT free apps that I’ve been using a lot lately; Breathe and Insight Timer. I love using them when I find myself in the car with a few minutes to spare before work, or if I’m laying in bed at night and need to unwind before going to sleep.

Have you ever practiced mindfulness?
Do you see a connection between your mental health and physical health?

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12 Responses

  • nessruns says:

    I’ve been meaning to try mindfulness for a while now, I just never seem to get around to it. Running seems to be my time to meditate! I’ll definitely check out those apps though :)

  • SuzLyfe says:

    I DEFINITELY think that mindfulness is related to better health. After all, how can you truly improve your health if you are not attuned to what is wrong? And being mindful can help you to calm yourself, relieve stress on your body….better health.

    • Erica House says:

      It amazes me how out of tune with my body I was most of my life. I see people who are like that now and will likely never become fully aware of themselves, and how their actions/thoughts/diets impact their physical and mental health.

  • I came to love weights for the stress relief. Movement makes me mentally better!

    • Erica House says:

      Whenever a student comes to me and says they are dealing with mild anxiety or depression I ALWAYS tell them the first thing they need to do is start exercising. Preferably outside.

  • I’ve been circling around the idea of mindfulness lately, but I don’t think I fully get it. The past teaches us, and we achieve the results we want out of life by planning for the future, so I can’t necessarily only be in the right-this-very-second… but I do think I would deal better with stress/anxiety-causing situations to look at them as being small in the grand scheme of things and never part of some bigger pattern. Try to keep things in perspective.

  • I use mindfulness with food and it’s how I’ve been losing weight. There was a serious battle last with me and some chocolate covered graham crackers that I almost lost, but I realized that I was just eating them to get that five second endorphin fix and not because I really needed them. So I stopped.

    Now, I know this battle doesn’t seem like a real struggle to most. However, I’ve been battling a food > feelings instant reaction since 2008 and have only now started seeing results because I’ve learned to spot my triggers (feelings, etc.) and know when to stop. Exercise has helped a lot, too. Running without headphones has been a big help to me lately. NPR, Audible and Pandora only distract me. I can really get inside my head a little better when I can just run and be.

    I’m definitely going to be trying out those apps. Thanks for the awesome post!

  • Danielle says:

    This is right in line with what I’m experimenting with right now. I just started using an app called Headspace but it isn’t free after the first 10 days, so I’ll definitely try the others. The app may be worth it, but I’m on a budget :-)



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