We’re all told to ‘live mindfully’ these days, but what exactly does it mean?
Mindfulness is about slowing down and being present in the moment.
Whether you’re eating, walking or just relaxing at home, it’s the practice of engaging fully with what you can see, hear and feel.
It might sound like a great way to relax, and it is, but it also has many other advantages for your overall health and wellbeing.
Below we’ve uncovered 32 benefits of mindfulness that you need to be aware of:
1: REDUCES STRESS
As mindfulness is a form of meditation (which has plenty of its own health benefits!) you’ll be unsurprised to read that it helps to reduce stress.
In 2018, the outcomes of 24 different research projects into the practice were reviewed.
Each one concentrated on how mindfulness could be used to reduce stress and improve employee mental health in the workplace.
Significantly reduced levels of stress were recorded, both personal and occupational, across the studies reviewed.
Improvements were also seen in quality of sleep, relaxation and self-compassion.
2: IMPROVES SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
The idea of living in the moment can be difficult when you’re coping with anxiety or depression.
Yet focusing on the here and now has been shown to help lessen the symptoms of both conditions.
An article published in Frontiers in Psychology, described how mindful living can lead to better emotional regulation.
They were also keen to highlight promising findings that suggest it reduces the risk of developing clinical depression.
3: HELPS YOU GET A BETTER NIGHT’S SLEEP
All the latest statistics show, we’re not getting enough sleep.
Thankfully mindfulness is here to help!
During 2015, older adults with sleep problems in Los Angeles were invited to take part in six group-based mindfulness sessions.
The sessions involved guidance on mindful eating, meditation and mindful movement, such as walking.
Sleep results were then compared with adults who took a course on sleep hygiene and developing healthier sleep behaviors.
Mindfulness participants saw immediate and significant improvements in their sleep quality, far greater than those who attended the sleep hygiene course.
4: ENHANCES YOUR OVERALL SENSE OF WELLBEING
The longer you practice mindfulness for, the more likely you are to experience happiness, calmness and peace.
You’re also less likely to feel nervous, sad or hopeless.
It’s worth mentioning that the 2014 paper that uncovered this finding, explained that the longer you practiced mindfulness over your lifetime, is more important than how many hours you manage to commit to it each week.
Further research in 2015 concentrated on the wellbeing of children between the ages of seven and nine years old.
Not only were they more able to regulate their emotions, but parents also reported that it expanded their capacity for learning.
5: RELIEVES LOWER BACK PAIN
Living more mindfully might seem like a strange treatment for lower back pain, however it is proven to be effective.
Researchers in Seattle, funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), studied 342 people suffering with low back pain.
Participants took part in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program, that included both meditation and yoga, for one year.
At the end of the year improvements were seen in pain intensity and the mental health of those that took part.
Results were then compared to a group who only took part in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Though pain was also reduced in this group, the effects didn’t last beyond 26 weeks. In the mindfulness group they were still experiencing less pain intensity after 52 weeks!
6: EASES CHRONIC PAIN
Up to 40% of adults in the US are living with some form of chronic pain.
Amazingly, 30 randomized controlled trials have all proven the same thing…
Mindfulness can reduce chronic pain.
Significant effects were also found in the reduction of depression symptoms, as well as a general improvement in the patients’ overall quality of life.
Great news if you’re looking for alternative solutions for pain management.
Watch below as Dr. Fadel Zeidan, a leading mindfulness expert, explains how mindfulness meditation can be used for pain management:
7: BOOSTS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) found that mindfulness can actually boost your immune system!
That’s because living mindfully can generate kind and positive thoughts.
Positive thoughts are found to make beneficial changes to your immune system.
In fact, BCRF claim that they may be even more important for immunity, than the impact of negative emotions like stress and depression.
8: COMBATS LONELINESS
There are so many mindfulness apps on the market that offer a great way to get started.
Plus the National Academy of Sciences published findings highlighting how effective they can be for dealing with loneliness.
Just two weeks of app-based training was found to actually increase contact in everyday life, and reduce social disconnect.
9: REDUCES BLOOD PRESSURE
In 2019, researchers at Brown University School of Public Health had plans to create a Mindfulness-Based Blood Pressure Reduction program for those suffering from hypertension.
First they wanted to evaluate the impact mindfulness had on blood pressure.
43 participants were recruited and taught how to use mindfulness skills on the different modifiable determinants of blood pressure, including physical activity, dietary approaches and alcohol consumption.
A significant reduction was seen in the blood pressure of participants, not just after the project concluded but also at a one year follow up.
10: LEADS TO A MORE SATISFYING SEX LIFE
If you have mindful sex, the research says you’ll have more fun in the bedroom!
Married couples between the ages of 35 and 60 years old were surveyed to build an understanding of the behaviors of sexually mindful individuals.
Results showed they had better self-esteem, were more satisfied in their relationship and generally more satisfied with their sex life.
It was concluded that therapists should teach sexual mindfulness skills to help improve an individual’s self esteem and overall sexual wellbeing.
Couples that practice mindfulness also have a happier relationship overall according to scientists.
They’ve been found to experience more satisfaction in their romantic relationships compared to those that don’t live in the moment!
11: IMPROVES SELF-ESTEEM
Two separate studies around mindfulness and self-esteem both reached the same conclusion:
Being more mindful can lead to healthier self-esteem.
Not just that, but they were also found to be more satisfied with life — two great reasons to start living more mindfully!
Keen to get going? Keeping a mindfulness journal can be a good starting point!
12: ENHANCES FOCUS AND CONCENTRATION
The human attention span has dropped to just 8 seconds in the last few years, a reduction of 25%!
Psychologists in the US have found evidence to suggest that mindfulness meditation could offer a solution.
Participants were asked to listen to a mindfulness meditation tape while completing a task.
They discovered there was no detriment in performance or reaction times, despite listening to the tape.
In fact, the practice improved the allocation of attentional resources, meaning respondents could focus and concentrate more easily and for longer periods.
13: SLOWS THE COGNITIVE AGING PROCESS
So we know that mindfulness helps focus and concentration, well using that same thinking, it can slow the cognitive aging process.
Experts explain that by following a mindfulness program, adults are able to slow the decline of attentional control abilities as they age.
14: IMPROVES ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
Mindfulness can even make you smarter!
Professors at Yale University published an article referencing a group of 2,000 students who were judged on the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS).
This is a 15-item scale that judges how much students are aware of what is happening in the present.
Students who scored higher on the MAAS were found to be more successful academically.
15: HELPS WITH CHILDBIRTH
Anxiety around childbirth can be a real issue for many pregnant women.
Studies have shown that those who approach the experience with fear, have a lower pain tolerance and worse postpartum adjustment.
Using mindfulness-based childbirth education can improve the experience for many women.
It didn’t actually reduce the pain for the women observed, however it did lead to greater body awareness and a stronger sense of control and confidence.
Not only that but they were also less likely to use opioid analgesia in labor, and less likely to develop depression postpartum.
16: REDUCES SYMPTOMS OF PTSD
Being more present in the moment, can reduce the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
An article published in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience in 2018 revealed the fascinating finding.
Self-blame and avoidance, the symptom of avoiding people, places and thoughts related to the trauma, were particularly improved.
But how does living in the moment help someone deal with a past trauma?
Well, emerging work has revealed that mindfulness treatments can restore connections within the brain network!
Research is in the early stages, but researchers felt it offered promise as a first-line treatment for those with PTSD.
17: IMPROVES QUALITY OF LIFE FOR STROKE PATIENTS
Mindfulness can be beneficial for the quality of life of patients following a stroke.
Post stroke spasticity can be a common complication, as the muscles become stiff and resistant to stretching.
Exploratory findings show that just two weeks of practicing mindfulness can reduce spasticity and increase the quality of life for people following a stroke.
18: HELPS IN THE TREATMENT OF ADDICTION
Though mindfulness has been known to be an effective strategy for stress, less is known about its impact on addiction.
Initial discoveries however have demonstrated that mindfulness-based interventions can reduce substance misuse and encourage self-regulation.
19: REDUCES COMPULSIVE SOCIAL MEDIA USE
One form of addiction that is particularly impacted by mindfulness, is social media addiction.
Statistics show that between 5-10% of Americans meet the criteria for a diagnosis of this behavioral addiction.
Mindfulness has a protective effect on compulsive behaviors by encouraging people to slow down and live in the moment.
Excessive social media use also causes stress, and we know that mindfulness is great for lowering stress and anxiety!
20: ALLEVIATES SYMPTOMS OF FIBROMYALGIA
Stress and disturbed sleep can be two challenging symptoms for people living with fibromyalgia.
To understand how mindfulness can be beneficial, a group of adults with the condition were invited to attend a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program.
During the course they were given the tools to cultivate a mindset of:
Awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present-moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience.
The findings, published by the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, found the program reduced stress and improved sleep.
21: IMPROVES QUALITY OF LIFE FOR CANCER PATIENTS
The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends mindfulness as a way for cancer survivors to cope with stress.
Clinical psychologist and mindfulness teacher Jessica Pieczynski explains:
The pervasive experience of a loss of control, uncertainty and constant change are often the most challenging aspects of coping with cancer. Accepting things as they are, turning towards rather than away from difficult emotional experiences and embracing change as a constant can help in self-understanding and healing.
22: REDUCES SYMPTOMS OF ASTHMA
A small scale study, including 14 patients with asthma, showed that mindfulness could lessen the symptoms of the condition.
It was thought that its powerful impact on stress was what made symptoms among the group reduce during the trial.
Findings also revealed just how much people love living mindfully!
70% of the participants were still regularly using the techniques they’d learnt a year after the research completed.
23: BOOSTS YOUR SPORTING PERFORMANCE
Another great benefit of practicing mindfulness is that it gives your sporting performance a boost.
Various types of mindfulness training and interventions have been used by athletes, with many seeing benefits.
Not just in their mental state, but also in their race times, thanks to a better mind and body connection.
24: HELPS WITH WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
Mindful eating is one way you can incorporate the practice into your everyday life.
It’s the idea that you’re fully present when you’re eating, taking the time to notice texture and flavor, rather than grabbing a quick snack at your desk!
Eating this way has actually been shown to aid with weight loss.
Many believe it should be used as a component of weight management programs, offering benefits in the treatment of obesity.
25: IMPROVES MEMORY
Living more mindfully can actually boost your memory.
It makes sense when you consider that the core idea of mindfulness is to slow down and notice what is happening in the moment.
Due to the way this memory boost could positively impact on your educational and occupational performance, scientists are keen to learn more!
26: REDUCES PROCRASTINATION
With technology offering so many fun (and addictive) ways to procrastinate, it’s no wonder that it’s on the rise!
In fact, up to 90% of students now report having a problem with procrastination.
Many colleges and universities are exploring how living mindfully could offer improvements.
An article published in the International Journal of Applied Positive Psychology revealed that mindfulness exercises led students to show more intention to work on a given task, compared to those that didn’t complete the exercises.
However as soon as mindfulness exercises were removed, students returned to their usual procrastinating ways, demonstrating the importance of sustained practice.
27: SUPPORTS PEOPLE LIVING WITH DIABETES
Evidence of a connection has been found between mindfulness meditation and improved symptoms of diabetes.
Though it could never replace the pharmacological management of the condition, it can significantly enhance a patient’s overall physical and mental wellbeing.
Small scale studies have provided findings that highlight how mindfulness can improve body weight, glycemic control and blood pressure.
28: FOSTERS CREATIVITY
If you’re a frustrated creative in need of a little boost then starting to live mindfully could be just what you need.
Mindfulness coach and creativity guru, Dr. Shelley Carson, explains:
The mindful state, in which an individual actively and nonjudgmentally notices novel aspects of objects and situations, forms an internal cognitive environment in which associations that lead to new products, discoveries, inventions, and processes can occur.
She goes on to explain how the ‘mindless state’ actively discourages the generation of new ideas and discoveries.
29: BENEFITS CHILDREN WITH AUTISM AND THEIR PARENTS
Fascinating research conducted in the Netherlands sought to understand how mindful awareness could support children with autism and their parents.
45 families took part in a MYmind mindfulness program which concentrated on improving focus and concentration, and decreasing impulsivity, hyperactivity and aggression.
Part of the program also sought to enhance communication between parent and child.
Though the children themselves didn’t perceive there to be any improvements, their parents reported that their emotional and behavioral functioning had improved.
30: HELPS SMOKERS QUIT FOR GOOD
Mindfulness could be the technique smokers need to give up for good!
The practice is great for reducing stress, and it’s this benefit that researchers feel makes it so effective for battling cravings.
In the first week of quitting, they describe how mindfulness fosters positive emotions such as happiness and relaxation that can promote successful cessation.
They also found that mindfulness ‘decoupled’ the association between craving and smoking to help people really cut the habit.
31: NO PHYSICAL EXERTION
One simple but amazing benefit of mindfulness is that you’re able to practice it without any exertion.
This makes it a perfect activity for boosting your health, even for people who might struggle to take part in physical exercise.
32: FREE OR LOW COST
Finally, it’s low cost and easy to access, so everyone can start living more mindfully.
There are many experts online that can help you learn the principles, or you might choose to invest in a mindfulness journal.
Looking for another way to boost your physical and mental health? Then take a look at the benefits of acupressure.
By purchasing an acupressure mat you can lower your blood pressure, improve your sleep and increase your energy levels!