Mindfulness: Good for your brain and your heart

Stress management is an important component to a healthier lifestyle and the prevention of disease and physical decline. Persistent high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, has a negative impact on our health including: weight gain, decline in cognitive function, lowered immune function and elevated blood pressure. Cortisol also plays a role in depression, decreased life expectancy and impacts your ability to learn.

What causes increased levels of cortisol:

  • Lack of sleep

  • Improper work/life balance

  • Poor nutrition

  • Lack of exercise

  • Social isolation

  • Unaddressed personal issues

download.png

Just like the prevention plans for our patients, the best method of mindfulness and stress management is going to depend on the person. The methods that will help a person deal with poor eating habits may not be beneficial to someone struggling with sleep issues. There are many different styles and methods of mindfulness and meditation; so finding a practice that works and you find enjoyable may take a little effort. The most important part is finding a method that you are going to stick with and incorporate into your life.  To get an idea of what may work for you go to 23 Types of Meditation  and see what may interest you. 

maxresdefault.jpg

Some of the benefits of mindfulness practices:

  • Can help lower blood pressure

  • Helps with depression, anxiety and distress

  • Aids in reduction of pain

  • Helps with smoking cessation

  • Decrease in stress

  • Boosts the immune system

  • Helps reduce inflammation

  • Increased cognitive function

 

Just like any change in your lifestyle, mindfulness is going to take practice and some time to incorporate into your life. You are not going to eliminate all of your stress in a week, but your goal is to begin to manage it better and improve your mental health. Start small and try different methods to allow yourself room to improve and grow. Incorporating mindfulness practice into your overall health plan should not be a daunting chore that adds more stress to your to do list.

Here are some great places to start:

Mindful.org

Headspace

Zen Habits


References:

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/feeling-it/201309/20-scientific-reasons-start-meditating-today

https://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/2003/07000/Alterations_in_Brain_and_Immune_Function_Produced.14.aspx

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159112004758