How To Use Mindfulness To Combat Common Health Issues

Mindfulness is a concept dating back to 1500 BCE, and there’s a reason it’s been around so long. It’s a fairly simple concept: being aware of the here and now, and focusing on it with intent. Actually doing so, however, is not so simple, and it’s a skill that some spend lifetimes honing. It can help in a number of aspects of everyday life, and here are just a few:

A Healthy Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a stressful time for the mother, both physically and emotionally. Her body is put through the ringer on a daily basis and her mind suffers the effects. While it is often a very happy time, it can also be uncomfortable and awkward, even painful. Mindfulness can help with four of the major issues that come with pregnancy. It reduces stress naturally, resulting in a healthier mom and baby. It can help with body positivity, which is a common issue among mothers-to-be that is not often talked about. There are also studies that show that mindfulness might promote healthy development as well as help prevent premature birth. There’s the added bonus that mindfulness skills practiced during pregnancy will definitely come in handy during labor and birth.

Relapse Prevention

Those who have recovered from an addiction to drugs or alcohol are facing a life-long battle of relapse prevention. The farther away they get from their addictions, the fewer and farther between the temptations, but they never go away completely. Mindfulness training can give recovering addicts the skills they need to overcome their cravings whenever they should arise. Purposefully paying attention to the moment can teach those struggling with substance abuse issues that their physical urges are temporary, and that they can lean into and experience negative emotions without running away from them into the arms of mind-altering substance.

Chronic Pain

According to The American Academy of Pain Medicine, over 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. This is no small issue, and there’s no simple solution. Sometimes pain that’s supposed to be the temporary result of an injury or medical procedure doesn’t go away, and in these instances a lifelong treatment plan of prescription painkillers is not ideal, especially considering that most people build up tolerances to these dangerous medications very quickly. Luckily, mindfulness has been shown to be a very effective method for treating chronic pain because it teaches people to pay close attention to their pain instead of reacting emotionally, and immediately, to it.

Weight Loss

Those struggling to lose weight face many challenges, especially this day in age. Our diets have changed drastically in the past thousand years, and most of those changes have happened in the past 50 years. The advent of pre-prepared, preservative-packed meals being sold in every corner of the market has made unhealthy food the most convenient, and often the least expensive, option. On top of this, we are bombarded daily with drool-worthy commercials that beckon our tastebuds and our minds alike. It’s hard enough to fight the cravings when simply digging through the fridge, let alone when we’re being hit by temptation from all corners of society. But, the good news is that mindfulness can benefit weight loss efforts by helping curb cravings, encouraging exercise, and allowing individuals to be ever aware of their journey and its pains and triumphs.

Mindfulness Isn’t Just For Grown-Ups

It’s never too early to start teaching the skills of mindfulness. Being intentionally aware of one’s present surroundings is a skill that can last a lifetime, and can benefit even children. It can help them learn valuable coping skills, as well as give them a sense of responsibility for their emotions and their resulting behaviors. As difficult as it is for adults to get into the groove, it’s even more tedious for children. However, there are some fun ways to get them into the groove, like using stuffed animals as breathing buddies, having them focus intently on the ringing of a bell or chime, or using senses like smell and touch to bring them into the present moment.

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