Mindfulness: A Way to Mend the Mind

Health Minute     Spring 2018

Mental fitness is as important as physical fitness. In fact, mental well-being is more important because the mind has complete control of the body.

Stress is rampant in today’s society. When stress levels escalate to a point that day-to-day life and responsibilities become overwhelming, then anxiety and/or depression can set in. Long-standing stress can lead to a strained relationship, poor work performance and poor health.

Sometimes people surrender to the stress and can fall prey to wrong practices, such as alcoholism, drugs, overeating, misbehavior (acting out in angry ways) and more.

Mindfulness has been practiced for more than 250 years and is a great tool to help deal with stress. There are only two rules:

  1. Complete acceptance 
  2. Complete awareness

Mindfulness is the process of self-regulating your attention to the present. Mindfulness takes an absolute, non-judgmental stance towards every situation, person or object. In other words, you gradually observe every emotion and accept it as it is.

The only goal is to reduce reality.

For example, persons A and B have to go for an interview. Person A may be feeling stress or fear. Person B may be happy and excited about the opportunity. Both sets of emotions affect the sympathetic nervous system, but the body’s response will be different for each.

Feeling the fear, Person A’s blood vessels will be constricted and the heart will beat less efficiently, so less blood is pumped around the body. Person A’s body is in damage control mode. Person B will experience exhilaration. Peripheral blood vessels dilate and the heart works more efficiently, pumping oxygenated blood to the limbs and brain. Person B will perform better physically as well as mentally.

Person A’s body can also be described as experiencing a threat, whereas Person B’s body is facing a challenge. People with a challenge response bounce back to a normal state quickly, while those under threat state take longer to recover.

With mindfulness techniques, we learn to observe these responses and emotions and generally learn to master them.

In research studies, mindfulness shows clear evidence of improvement for generalized anxiety disorders, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic back pain. There are more upcoming studies regarding its effects on cancer pain and ADHD.

When body and mind work in perfect harmony, life becomes a beautiful song. Whatever situation comes our way, it can be faced with less anxiety and more clarity.

For more information about mindfulness, talk with your doctor or visit us online to find a physician.