November 30

Mindfulness for a healthy mind

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Mindfulness for a healthy, happy mind

There is much more to your overall wellbeing than having a heathy body.

Having a healthy mind is equally - if not more - important than having good physical health.  It doesn’t matter if you feed yourself the cleanest, organic food available, exercise every day, sleep for 9 hours and do everything you can to keep your body in tip-top shape, if you only end up having a lifestyle that is stressful, depressing, and frantic it won't have been worth it.

Why we need a healthy mind

Being stress and anxiety free, where you are happy and contented is incredibly important for your mental health. Depression, anxiety and stress can affect your productivity, relationships, and wellbeing, and hold you back from being at your best. 

Focussing on your mental health in order to have a life that is happy and healthy is vital. This is where mindfulness may help.

I spent years pooh, poohing meditation and as the purview of hippies and 'New age' people with nothing better to do.

I was wrong. Mindfulness has calmed me down, reduced my anxiety and helped make me happier and more able to do the things I want to do.

What is mindfulness?

It is a form of meditation that helps to relieve stress and anxiety and can improve our mental wellbeing

Generally speaking, mindfulness is done either silently or guided through following someone's voice. For all forms of mindfulness, there are some key elements to have in place. These are:

  • finding a quiet place to sit with a comfortable posture,
  • to focus on your breath,
  • and to trust that this might work

How mindfulness can improve overall health

Scientific studies has shown that it can positively alter our brains, and helps us deal with our emotions, anxiety, and physical pain. If you've never practiced mindfulness, here are some really good reasons to learn:

  • Heart health: It can calm you and help with better stress management. 
  • Blood Pressure: Blood pressure can be lowered naturally by practicing mindfulness. 
  • Stress reduction and improved energy levels: General health, immunity, and energy levels are boosted by mindfulness in that it reduces sympathetic nervous system activity, resulting in reduced stress hormones released.
  • Increased intelligence: It leads to increased brain matter folding in the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain associated with overall cognitive intelligence.
  • Self-awareness: Brain matter changes correspond with feelings of improved self-esteem and peacefulness.

How you can meditate for a healthy mind

When you practice it sit comfortably in a quiet space, close your eyes, and allow your mind to settle.

When practicing mindfulness, you are always relaxed, aware, and alert. Start with short 5-10 minute sessions daily and increase the duration as you get more out of your practice.

Mindfulness, as with everything, takes practice, ideally daily practice for the best outcome. It's considered better to meditate for short periods daily than long periods occasionally.

I am very new to mindfulness, as I'm sure is apparent but the benefits I have enjoyed were really easy to achieve and far more than I had been expecting.

As I said earlier I was a confirmed sceptic until I read a book  by Ruby Wax, the comedian, called Sane about her battle with depression and how mindfulness had helped. Her book was confirmation that it could work - at least it did for her - and might be worth a look.

I use an app called Headspace and they explain the benefits far more adeptly than I can. Have a look and see what you think. The first ten sessions are free, which should give you a good idea of what's involved , and after that you can choose to subscribe or not.

Whatever form of mindfulness you choose to try, the benefits are the same. It can help to bring about a state of emotional well-being, to gain a clearer perspective on life, especially in stressful situations, to improve your self-awareness and reduce negative emotions.

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