“Mindfulness” is the new buzzword on everyone’s lips, but why? Mindfulness is the practice of bringing your awareness into the present moment by focusing and accepting your emotions and the physiological responses to those emotions in the here and now.
Whether through brief moments throughout the day or by setting aside time to meditate, mindfulness practitioners can experience better working memory, less stress, and even reduced depression.
However, recent studies point to some less expected benefits to mindfulness that may inspire you to begin making it a part of your daily routine.
Slows Down Cognitive Decline
As we age, our mind tends to age with us. Not only in the sense of becoming wiser but also becoming frailer.
If we don’t exercise our brains, our short-term memory and cognitive function will begin to decline as we get older, mainly if there’s a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
The simple practice of controlling your breathing and focusing on one thing is a simple but effective exercise to keep your memory and executive functioning in tiptop shape.
Helps Strengthen Your Immune System
Our bodies are filled with immune cells that help fight off viruses and bacterial infections every day. T-cells, immunoglobulins, and anti-inflammatory proteins work tirelessly day in and day out to keep our bloodstream free of disease-causing agents.
However, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that practicing mindfulness can be an additional shield against harmful organisms.
Mindfulness has been shown to help the body fight against all sorts of health conditions; for example, in one study, mindfulness meditation even appeared to increase the level of T-cells in HIV patients.
Increases Your Relationship Satisfaction
Practicing mindfulness can also have a profound impact on your interpersonal relationships. Mindfulness can help practitioners become more accepting of their partner’s flaws.
Naturally, if you spend some time to analyze where your negative feelings are coming from and accepting that no one is perfect, you’re going to have an easier time not getting as heated when your partner makes a mistake or does something you don’t like.
Consider trying mindfulness out if you feel yourself being a little quicker to anger than usual.
Decreases Emotional Reactivity
If you have a mood disorder such as borderline personality disorder or have trouble regulating your emotions, mindfulness could be an excellent tool for you.
When you have a better handle on your feelings, it can make it exponentially easier to deal with negative emotions, making you feel free and ultimately benefit your mental health and even your relationships.
Mindfulness training can even transform the way you experience emotional stimuli by altering the areas of your brain that get activated and deactivated in its presence.
Reduces Symptoms of Depression or Anxiety
If you’re someone who struggles with anxiety or depression, mindfulness can relieve the symptoms and keep them at bay in the future. This is also done through emotional regulation.
Since mindfulness helps your brain process emotions more selectively, you’ll be more equipped with strategies to understand and work through the negative feelings associated with anxiety, depression, and stress.
This can also be done in a controlled environment through the use of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or MBCT, which combines cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness meditation, and even yoga to increase emotional awareness and acceptance.
Reduces Cell Aging
Cell aging is the process by which your body’s cells take longer to divide and multiply, which inevitably affects the functioning of your organs.
Cell aging happens naturally as we get older, but it can also be sped up depending on the quality of our lifestyle choices. For example, illness and stress can play a major role in this process.
However, cells have protective proteins called telomeres, which can be strengthened with the use of mindfulness meditation.
For instance, a 2018 review of research into the impact of mindfulness on telomeres found that breast cancer survivors who practiced it had an increase in telomere activity, which provides great promise for mindfulness’ impact on aging in general.
Visit our Mindfulness Advice Page to learn more about how mindfulness practices can change your life for the better.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.