Tag Archives: stress reduction

Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters—
Can Living in the Moment Improve Your Health?

January 2012

At some point in your life, someone probably told you: “Enjoy every moment. Life is short.” Maybe you’ve smiled and rolled your eyes at this well-intentioned relative or co-worker. But the fact is, there’s something to it. Trying to enjoy each moment may actually be good for your health.

The idea is called mindfulness. This ancient practice is about being completely aware of what’s happening in the present—of all that’s going on inside and all that’s happening around you. It means not living your life on “autopilot.” Instead, you experience life as it unfolds moment to moment, good and bad, and without judgment or preconceived notions.

“Many of us go through our lives without really being present in the moment,” says Dr. Margaret Chesney of the University of California, San Francisco. She’s studying how mindfulness affects health. “What is valuable about mindfulness is that it is accessible and can be helpful to so many people.”

Studies suggest that mindfulness practices may help people manage stress, cope better with serious illness and reduce anxiety and depression. Many people who practice mindfulness report an increased ability to relax, a greater enthusiasm for life and improved self-esteem.

One NIH-supported study found a link between mindfulness meditation and measurable changes in the brain regions involved in memory, learning and emotion. Another NIH-funded researcher reported that mindfulness practices may reduce anxiety and hostility among urban youth and lead to reduced stress, fewer fights and better relationships.

A major benefit of mindfulness is that it encourages you to pay attention to your thoughts, your actions and your body. For example, studies have shown that mindfulness can help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight. “It is so common for people to watch TV and eat snack food out of the box without really attending to how much they are eating,” says Chesney. “With mindful eating, you eat when you’re hungry, focus on each bite, enjoy your food more and stop when you’re full.”

Finding time for mindfulness in our culture, however, can be a challenge. We tend to place great value on how much we can do at once and how fast. Still, being more mindful is within anyone’s reach.

You can practice mindfulness throughout the day, even while answering e-mails, sitting in traffic or waiting in line. All you have to do is become more aware—of your breath, of your feet on the ground, of your fingers typing, of the people and voices around you.

Chesney notes that as people start to learn how to be more mindful, it’s common and normal to realize how much your mind races and focuses on the past and future. You can just notice those thoughts and then return to the present moment. It is these little, regular steps that add up and start to create a more mindful, healthy life.

So, before you roll your eyes again, take a moment and consider mindfulness.

FROM: http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/Jan2012/Feature2

Easier with Yoga

 Reprinted from HHS Healthbeat (August 1, 2011)

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A study indicates yoga can ease stress in women getting radiation treatment for breast cancer.

At the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Lorenzo Cohen saw this in women who did yoga or stretching. He says the stretching group reported feeling less tired, but the yoga group got this plus less stress and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Dr. Cohen says it’s best to do yoga regularly:

“It’s constantly exposing yourself to the positive benefits and the relaxation that we feel after a mind-body practice that can be quite useful.’’

The study presented at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Learn more at hhs.gov.

HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

What a Little Deep Breathing Can Do for You

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What a Little Deep Breathing Can Do for You

RealAge Docs Daily Blog

Breathing is one of those things your body does that you don’t have to think about. But we YOU Docs think you should pay attention to it every now and then, or you’ll miss out on some major health benefits, especially for your lungs. That’s because deep breathing:

  • Brings oxygen deeper into your lungs
  • Moves more nitric oxide (which widens blood vessels) to your lungs, which helps your blood vessels and lungs work better
  • Removes toxins by getting lymph moving
  • Calms you

Here’s a quick test: Stop reading, and inhale and exhale normally, looking down as you do. If you don’t see your belly moving, your breathing is short and shallow.

Now try this:

  1. Lie flat on the floor, one hand on your belly, the other on your chest.
  2. Inhale deeply and slowly as you count to five. Your belly button should move away from your spine, and your chest should widen and rise slightly as your lungs fill with air.
  3. Exhale slowly to a count of seven. Your belly button should pull toward your spine.
  4. Let your belly button be your guide. When you deeply inhale, feel your belly button go out as your lungs fully expand with air. When you deeply exhale, feel your belly button suck in as you blow out old air and carbon dioxide.

Take 10 deep breaths like the one you just practiced, morning and night, and take as many as you need when practicing your serve or chasing your dog.

Reposted from: RealAge Docs Daily Blog