Mindfulness for Your Immune System
Slow down. Relax. Take a breather. Enjoy the moment. Appreciate what you have. These are all very common slogans that we’ve all read on mugs, posters, Instagram posts, Facebook posts, and t-shirts. After a while, these messages might simply blend together. You think “I’ll slow down and take a breather when I have five minutes between work, working out, looking after the kids and laundry.”
Well, guess what? You’re not alone with this thinking. Even the people who are posting these messages of mindfulness and relaxed living are rushing from one event to the next, trying to find that moment to catch a breath and take it all in. If this is the case, then what’s the point then of all this talk of mindfulness? The point is simple: mindfulness works. It’s good for us. It makes us feel better. The benefits of mindfulness are far-reaching and some experts say this ancient practice which holds its roots in meditation can even be good for our immune system. Your health matters and this is why we want you to chill out, take a breath, smile big, put your brain on hold, and see what you really have.
What is mindfulness?
The short definition of mindfulness is: the nonjudgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment. (This definition is from a Perspectives on Psychological Science
study.) In other words, being aware of what’s happening around you and accepting it for exactly what it is. This sounds simple and straight forward, so how can something so simple have such a big impact on our health and well-being?
The health benefits of mindfulness
The list of health benefits is a long one, but we think that you’ll find the following benefits most interesting. We hope you’ll consider how impactful mindfulness can be on your immune system and overall well-being.
- Reduce stress: this is a proven scientific fact and is one of the major reasons to practice mindfulness. When you practice mindfulness, you feel less stressed and your body actually produces lower amounts of cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone that is associated with high stress levels and in some people their body is so stressed that their cortisol level is dangerously high, resulting in illness and disease.
- Better sleep: how often do you go to bed with a racing and busy brain? Now imagine what it would be like to go to bed when you’ve been focusing on letting the little things go and not worrying about the things in life you can’t control. Better sleep is a huge benefit of mindfulness and as you know, the better rested you are, the better your body is able to repair itself.
- Pain management: an increasing number of health practitioners are recommending mindfulness and meditation to people who are suffering with severe pain and other symptoms of disease. There is a connection between the brain and your body so the understanding is that when we can calm our brain, we can allow our body to heal and also stop focusing on the pain or other symptoms. This all contributes to allowing your immune system to strengthen and equip itself for when it’s needed to combat outside threats.
- Helps to lower depression: have you ever watched the news or read the newspaper and afterwards felt sad or frustrated? This happens to all of us – we feel overwhelmed with the problems in our world and it’s easy to feel despondent and depressed. When we’re being mindful, we’re able to read the news or watch a documentary without feeling like this is another burden we must take on. Instead, we might feel inspired to act or even to simply recognize how fortunate we are.
This is just a short overview of some of the many health benefits of mindfulness. Now, as great as mindfulness is, it is not a substitute for living a well-balanced life. It’s a great idea to try to incorporate mindfulness into your day-to-day, but don’t expect it to change your health overnight or to instantly reduce your stress levels. Keep eating a healthy diet, getting some daily exercise, supporting your body naturally with proven immune-boosting supplements, and getting adequate rest. When you’re doing all of this and then adding in moments of mindfulness through-out your day, you will slowly begin to feel its benefits. Still don’t think you have time for mindfulness? Here are a few simple ways to practice mindfulness:
- In the car on the way to work listen to the radio. Listen to the music and sing along. Try to keep your mind from wandering away to your workday. Listen to the music, hear the lyrics, and just let your mind take a break.
- At work, focus on one task at a time. Close your web browser. Close your email. Just focus on the item you’re working on. When you’re in a meeting, keep your smartphone in your pocket and give your attention to the meeting.
- At home during supper, make sure the television and radio are turned off, keep the tablets, smartphones and computers away from the table (and kitchen) – just sit and eat. Even if you’re eating alone, just sit and eat your meal. Eat slowly and really chew your food and taste it.