Health Benefits of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Young woman praying and meditating alone at sunset with beautiful ocean and mountain view

Americans are over-stressed, under-slept, and our entire bodies have taken an enormous toll. Mindfulness-based stress reduction works at the core. Although there are some fantastic perks to stress-reduction such as a cardio workout, going inward can provider longer-term benefits and equip you with the necessary tools to de-stress in an environment where something like going on a 5k run isn’t an option. When using mindfulness and meditation as part of your stress-reduction strategy, you may be surprised at the many benefits that arise.

Does stress make you sick? It likely does, stress exacerbates almost any ailment from acne and rosacea to obesity. When you decrease stress, you’re naturally decreasing the symptoms of what might be a chronic condition. In fact, stress reduction is often recommended for a variety of concerns because it has so much control. Stress shows up in the body in various ways. You might not have chronically high blood pressure, but high-stress environments can make even someone with low blood pressure have a reading that skyrockets. Stress has been linked to hair loss and thinning—of course, losing your hair is stressful in itself, so it becomes a vicious cycle.

Stress is connected to gaining and holding weight. No amount of diet and exercise can fully keep weight off if you’re operating at a high-stress level. Plus, stress can lead to skipping workouts and reaching for junk food. Not only is unhealthy food usually more easily accessible, but it also gives us a false sense of a dopamine rush. Sugar causes the same chemical effect in the brain as cocaine. When you’re highly stressed, you may not realize it, but getting a “hit” of junk food from time to time is your body’s way of coping in the short term. Unfortunately, the long-term effects like weight gain and all that entails is much more difficult to shed.

Stress also leads us to being unhappy. We might pick fight with our loved ones. When we’re worried about something, we can’t focus and lose concentration. We might get into an accident because we’re distracted thinking about our stressful situation, or might miss out on securing a deal in business. Without the ability to focus and concentrate, a lot is at stake. You’ll be kept from the joys of life if you let stress rule.

Unfortunately, we’re not taught any sort of stress reduction techniques in school, and many of us aren’t taught it by our parents. Mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques need to be explicitly sought out. The good news? It’s never too late. You’re in control of your stress and your mind. You just might need a little help getting there. Yoga classes are a fantastic means of learning these techniques. You may want to couple them with regularly seeing a mental health expert who can provide even more ways to increase mindfulness. Take solace in the fact that everyone has the same hours in the day. Ask for help and try out various strategies to see what works for you.

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