Over the years, I’ve seen mindfulness meditation make a big difference for clients dealing with depression and anxiety. But today I learned that mindfulness is good for the heart not just metaphorically, but physically as well.
A new study shows that people who are more mindful — in other words, they are better at focusing on “the now” instead of rehashing the past or worrying about the future — have healthier glucose levels. Two things that might help explain this connection, researchers found, are: 1. Mindful people are less likely to be obese, and 2. Mindful people have a stronger sense of control over their lives — they believe they can make important changes.
This is good news for everyone, not just the mindful among us, because mindfulness is a trait that can be learned and developed. Working with a therapist is helpful, but practicing mindful meditation on your own can be, too. You can even find apps for your smartphone that will walk you through various meditations, helping bring your mind back to what is going on inside and around you.
Eventually, we hope, doing these mindfulness exercises will help you cultivate the everyday mindfulness that will change how you behave and how you respond to stressful situations.
So let’s work to be more aware of the world around us! It’s good for our hearts!
Wondering where you fall on the mindfulness spectrum? Here are some questions to consider:
- Do you find yourself running on autopilot frequently?
- Do you forget names soon after you hear them?
- Do you snack without being aware of what you’re eating?
- Do you break or spill things out of carelessness?
Go here for the full questionnaire researchers use to measure mindfulness.
Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Mental Health Solutions, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.