The Importance of Mindfulness for a Healthy Lifestyle

19th February, 2021 Healthy Living

The Importance of Mindfulness for a Healthy Lifestyle

The importance of mindfulness  is talked about a lot these days, but what actually is it and how exactly does it help you live a healthier lifestyle? There are many different ways you can practice mindfulness and plenty of different activities it can be incorporated into in your everyday life. It doesn’t have to be a huge lifestyle change and you will find a little bit of mindfulness can make a significant impact.

This activity can have all sorts of positive impacts on your mental and physical wellbeing by promoting a healthy life and could even give your training a boost. Honing your mind, focus and freeing up your thoughts, will let you put that energy into what really matters to you. This can make training for that marathon, working towards a new PR or motivating yourself to do a hard workout, that bit easier and all the exercises we have suggested in this blog are free mindfulness exercises.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness can come in many different shapes and forms, but it is primarily about paying attention to the present moment and being in tune with your own thoughts and feelings. It can be so easy to get swept away with our thoughts, responsibilities and what we need to do, thinking about the past and what we need to do in the future.

Practising guided mindfulness exercises means developing an awareness of these thoughts and feelings and bringing your attention back to what is around you. This can involve thinking about your breath, bringing your thoughts back to focus on something when they wander or grounding yourself, in what you can see and hear around you.

What Can Mindfulness Do?

Although it might not seem it at first, the small mindfulness techniques that you incorporate into your life can have a surprising impact on your life. This can range from physical health, mental resilience and wellbeing, happiness and positive self-perception.

Here are some of the stresses that mindfulness can  address and reduce:

  • Feeling annoyed and irritable
  • Sleeping restlessly
  • Being critical of yourself or others
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Skin conditions or rashes
  • Migraines and headaches

It is also worth considering that these rather subjective benefits can enable you to do more with your day, once you have reduced stress levels and reconnected with your mind and body. When engaging in this practice and your stress levels and symptoms are starting to reduce, you can expect:

  • Better attention and focus
  • Decrease levels of anxiety
  • Lower blood pressure and heart rate
  • Better perception and ability to focus
  • Feeling calm and still

Why Practice Mindfulness, What Are the Benefits?

Incorporating mindfulness into your life can have many indirect and direct effects on our minds and bodies, which is why so many of us could benefit from it. The direct effects of reducing stress would mean your doctor is happier with your reduced blood pressure. You could also see a decrease in an ongoing skin rash you have or fewer headaches and the pain that comes with them.

The indirect effects are a little more subtle but no less significant. Mindfulness can help to promote positive thinking and address unhelpful thoughts by establishing an awareness of them, as well as many other benefits.

Control Your Body Weight

Have you ever felt extreme cravings, even though you’ve just eaten a meal? If this rarely happens, then you know it's not a problem. But for many people this happens everyday, and then the problem starts. Even though we know that what you eat and the amount of food you eat has the biggest impact on cravings and overeating, emotions have also a huge impact on both our food choices and the amount of food.

Practicing mindfulness often leads to better control over the amount of food you eat and emotional eating. This leads to a greater control over your food intake and your bodyweight too. 

Sleep Better

It's finally bedtime. You crash on your bed, tired and ready to fall asleep. Suddenly, the to do lists, all your worries and more pops up into your head. No sleep tonight, either. Can you relate? Well, you are not alone. More than half of the adult world's population are struggling with lack of sleep!

Enough sleep is important is important for brain function and to give our body enough rest to heal for the next day. Therefore, if you have a lack of sleep you probably feel tired, less productive, and feel unwell in general and can also lead to more dramatic problems. However, mindfulness meditation can tackle this as over a period of time it has shown to improve our sleeping patterns. If you do this practise at night before bedtime, you probably fall asleep a lot easier than you are used to. 

Stress down

Today, stress is one of the leading public health problems and the effect of stress can be serious. We know that stress increases our cortisol levels in our body, which is fine to some degree, but the real problems start if we have an increased level of cortisol too often, or constantly over time.

This creates a constant inflammation in our body and leads to high blood pressure, heart diseases, foggy brain, depression, anxiety and exhaustion - just to mention a few. Therefore, it is really important to decrease stress levels. But unfortunately, for many people, this is far easier said than done. Mindfulness is an extremely effective tool to reduce anxiety and stress.

Can Lower Blood Pressure

1.1 billion people have high blood pressure worldwide and we know that the consequences of high blood pressure over a long period of time can, in the worst case, be fatal. Mindfulness can reduce the signals the body sends as a result of stress and thus also reduce blood pressure. So when you feel stressed, breath and focus inward!

How to Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Life

This practice doesn’t have to involve sitting down to a long meditation session and can be incorporated into many different aspects of your life. From mindful walking, eating, painting or breathing and grounding, you can have a quick one-minute grounding session throughout your day, or before a workout to get you in the right frame of mind.

Some people like to set aside 10 minutes before they go to sleep or others might like to take a minute or two for mindful thinking at different points throughout their day, for their daily mindfulness exercises. Trying out different ways of being mindful can help you to find out what works for you, as you notice all the subtle changes that occur when making this activity and way of thinking a regular part of your day or week.

Finding a time, place and form of mindfulness that works for you is key, so don’t be afraid to try them all until you find one you like. This will make it more likely to become a permanent habit of yours and this way you can reap all of the benefits too. Here are some exercises, the perfect mindfulness for beginners: 

Notice Your Surroundings

Being grounded, taking a breath and concentrating on the noises you hear, the seat beneath you and your senses. Think about one sensation to the next and notice what’s around you in the present moment.

If you find your mind wandering that’s fine, mindful awareness is just about slowly bringing your attention back to your breathing, before gradually becoming aware of your surroundings again.

Mindful Eating

When eating your meal, or you can even try some chocolate at first, remove distractions and eat with an intention. This will slow your mind and the experience down, so you can concentrate on every aspect of taste and touch and appreciate your food and healthy eating habits more while grounding you in the moment.

Emotional Awareness

This exercise involves taking stock of the emotions you are currently experiencing. However,  it is key to not judge any of the emotions you are having, just to observe them. Naming the emotions as ‘annoyance’, or ‘joy’ for example, can help us to move through them and let them go.

By doing this, you are noticing that you are separate from the emotions you are experiencing and can enable you to not get caught up in them.

If you want to read more about the importance of mindfulness and how to lead a healthy lifestyle, visit our blog, or contact us to find out more. You are also welcome to become a part of our fitness community with our 30-day-free-trial if you want to start your fitness journey today.