Mindfulness and mindfulness meditation have a number of health benefits, says Eugene Farrell
“Developing countries have increasingly high issues with heart health, mental health, relationship breakdown and substance abuse because we live in a culture of busyness and constant pressure. We need to slow down,” advises Eugene Farrell, AXA PPP psychological health expert. “Complementary medicine and therapies often lack formal clinical research,” he says. “Not so with meditation and mindfulness. There have been literally hundreds of studies conducted to investigate and examine its benefits, which means that there is now evidence to support the fact that it can help with a variety of health problems. That said, much work is still to be done to explain whether this is cause, effect or a correlation.”
Meditation and mindfulness are starting to make a difference to how people think and react in a variety of situations – from school children to professional athletes and even the military. Here are some ways it could help you:
“We can all find ourselves jumping to negative thoughts. This often happens automatically and can take a toll on our mental wellbeing,” says Eugene. “Mindfulness gives us the tools to become aware of this so that we can ‘rewire’ that thinking.”
Research conducted in America in 2015 also suggests that mindfulness meditation can help with sleep by supporting those who suffer from insomnia. Sleep – alongside other factors, such as building your emotional intelligence – can help you build your resilience.
Reduce stress, depression and anxiety
Researchers at Boston University did an analysis of 39 studies, totalling 1,140 participants, who received mindfulness-based therapy for conditions such as cancer, generalised anxiety disorder and depression. It found mindfulness to be a “promising intervention” for treating anxiety and mood problems.
A smaller, more recent study, also found that mindfulness is a helpful treatment for supporting adults who have autism spectrum disorder with anxiety and depression.
Improve heart health
If you want to look after your heart, maintaining a healthy blood pressure is a good place to start. The American Heart Association now recommends meditation for reducing blood pressure, after a study found that people with heart disease who practised Transcendental Meditation regularly were 48% less likely to have a heart attack, stroke or die compared with those who attended a health education class instead.
Reduce symptoms of IBS
A 2015 study in America found that participating in a nine-week training programme, which included mindfulness and meditation therapy, had a “significant impact” people’s symptoms of IBS and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that mindfulness is an effective tool to reduce stress. This helps people with substance addictions as it gives them a healthy coping mechanism, which can steer them away from relapse.
An interesting study by specialists at the University of Utah in 2017 backed this up. They found that mindfulness is useful in the recovery of chronic pain patients who are at risk of becoming addicted to opiates.
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