At Massage Sonoma, I spend a significant amount of my time acting as health educator for my clients. After all, we spend such a small percentage of a full day exercising or in the treatment room. What can we do with the rest of our day that will positively impact our quality of life? Nutrition and exercise are receiving an enormous amount of attention from the public and from the health care community. And rightly so! While these two components of healthy living do impact our quality of life, I’m often surprised at how little attention is given to mental health. If I am working with a client who is on the right track with exercise and nutrition, but is still complaining about stress and anxiety, I may suggest looking into mindfulness and mindful breathing.
The practice of mindfulness and mindful breathing is not new. When I speak to people about mindfulness Son, I suggest a number of resources for getting acquainted with mindful breathing and the practice of living mindfully. Like the field of sports medicine, there are many approaches to getting started and practicing. Sometimes, simply sharing the benefits of mindful breathing is enough to get someone started. One of my clients recently said, “There have been two major and life changing events in my life. The first was having children. The second was discovering mindfulness”. In the spirit of this person’s experience, I would like to share the following information compiled by Loretta Lanphier at OAW Health
Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness of which mindful breathing is a part, even for just a short period of time, can bring a variety of physical, psychological, and social benefits. Below are some of these benefits.
- Immune System: A seminal study found that, after just eight weeks of training, practicing mindfulness meditation boosts our immune system’s ability to fight off illness.
- Good for the mind: Several studies have found that mindfulness increases positive emotions while reducing negative emotions and stress. One study suggests mindful breathing is as effective as antidepressants in fighting depression and preventing relapse.
- Mindfulness changes our brains: Research has found that it increases density of gray matter in brain regions linked to learning, memory, emotion regulation, and empathy.
- Focus: Studies suggest that mindfulness helps us tune out distractions and improves our memory and attention skills.
- Compassion: Mindfulness fosters compassion and altruism. Research suggests mindfulness training makes us more likely to help someone in need and increases activity in neural networks involved in understanding the suffering of others and regulating emotions. Evidence suggests it might boost self-compassion as well.
- Relationships: Mindfulness enhances relationships. Research suggests mindfulness training makes couples more satisfied with their relationship, makes each partner feel more optimistic and relaxed, and makes them feel more accepting of and closer to one another.
- Parenting: Mindfulness is good for parents and parents-to-be. Studies suggest it may reduce pregnancy-related anxiety, stress, and depression in expectant parents. Parents who practice mindfulness report being happier with their parenting skills and their relationship with their kids, and their kids were found to have better social skills.
- Schools: Mindfulness helps schools. There’s scientific evidence that teaching mindfulness in the classroom reduces behavior problems and aggression among students, and improves their happiness levels and ability to pay attention. Teachers trained in mindfulness also show lower blood pressure, less negative emotion and symptoms of depression, and greater compassion and empathy.
- Health Care Professionals: Mindfulness helps health care professionals cope with stress, connect with their patients, and improve their general quality of life. It also helps mental health professionals by reducing negative emotions and anxiety, and increasing their positive emotions and feelings of self-compassion.
- Prison Inmates: Mindfulness helps prisons. Evidence suggests mindfulness reduces anger, hostility, and mood disturbances among prisoners by increasing their awareness of their thoughts and emotions, helping with their rehabilitation and reintegration.
- Veterans & PTSD: Mindfulness helps veterans. Studies suggest it can reduce the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the aftermath of war.
- Obesity: Mindfulness fights obesity. Practicing “mindful eating” encourages healthier eating habits, helps people lose weight, and helps them savor the food they do eat.
- Cancer Treatment: According to the National Cancer Institute, mind-body treatment techniques such as mindful breathing may improve patient well-being and help reduce the sometimes harmful side effects of traditional treatments.
I hope you found this information helpful. Please feel to reach out to us at Massage Sonoma and Sonoma Personal Trainers. We’re here for you 7 days a week online, by phone or email… and of course in the treatment room!
Anthony Drohan. Massage Therapist & Personal Trainer