Mindfulness as a Method of Increasing Well-being
In this demanding world of ours, the mind is constantly pulled from past to future, scattering our thoughts and emotions and leaving us feeling stressed. If you are a busy bee like me, it is probably hard to find time to meditate. However, it is absolutely essential to both our physical and mental health to take a few minutes each day to be mindful.
Later, we will discuss a few techniques on being mindful, but first let’s look at how our minds and stress affect our physiology. Stress is a normal part of human life. In fact, without it, we wouldn’t be alive (imagine being chased by a tiger and not having a “fight or flight” response). Unfortunately, chronic, uncontrolled stress results in increased systemic inflammation. This alone has many harmful effects and is linked with numerous chronic diseases (such as diabetes and heart disease etc.).
Stress also plays a role with pain. For example, in a study done by Ortego et. al. it was found that those with higher levels of stress had higher levels of neck and arm pain. The reversal is also true. Techniques that control stress, such as mindfulness meditation, have been to shown decrease pain (Cherkin 2016).
So what is mindfulness actually and how do you practice it? Mindfulness is being fully present in the current moment (not thinking about the past or planning for the future). This includes being aware of where you are and what you’re doing. One technique that I like is called the “5 Senses”. It can be done anytime, anywhere (I do it every time I drive to work!). Go through each of your 5 senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch) in your current environment and note what comes up for you. Another mindfulness exercise is called “mindful breathing.” Bring your attention to your breath. As you breathe in say “I am breathing in” and as you breathe out say “I am breathing out”. For both of these, each time your mind wanders (And it will!) bring it back to the present moment. If you want a more guided meditation, check out the following apps: calm.com and insight timer. There are so many techniques for mindfulness, find one that works for you and start meditating!
We are here to help. If you feel you need professional help to improve your alignment, posture and help prevent further or future injury please don’t hesitate to contact us (925) 284-6150.
Written by Brianna Munson, Physical Therapist at Lafayette Physical Therapy, Inc.
Arranged and Edited by Zack Krumland, BSBA, PR & Marketing Coordinator
References: Is there a relationship between psychological stress or anxiety and chronic nonspecific neck-arm pain in adults? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Ortego 2016
Effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction vs Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Usual Care on Back Pain and Functional Limitations in Adults With Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Cherkin 2016
This article is intended as general health information and is not intended to provide individual specific medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or any other individual. Please consult your doctor or a medical professional before starting or changing a health, fitness, or nutrition program.