What are the benefits of practicing mindfulness?

Diana Winston
Diana Winston on behalf of UCLA Health
Alternative & Complementary Medicine
People who practice mindful awareness, or mindfulness, may reap significant health benefits. Research has shown that mindfulness helps reduce stress, anxiety, depression and long-term (chronic) physical pain. It also helps improve attention, concentration, self-awareness and positive emotions. Some studies suggest meditation can help lower blood pressure and boost immune system function.

Mindfulness is a tool that people may not have considered using, but which can positively impact the brains and improve one's happiness and general sense of well-being.
Sheri Van Dijk
Researchers have been studying the effects of mindfulness and of meditation in general, and have found that it is extremely beneficial to us in all sorts of ways, including the following:
  • It decreases medical symptoms, including chronic pain, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, and high blood pressure.
  • It reduces anxiety and stress.
  • It improves the functioning of your immune system.
  • It improves sleep.
  • It helps to prevent depression from returning.
  • It fosters self-awareness.
  • It improves your ability to tolerate upsetting thoughts.
  • It activates a part of your brain that is connected to experiencing happiness and optimism -- in other words, it helps you feel good.
The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Bipolar Disorder: Using DBT to Regain Control of Your Emotions and Your Life (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)

More About this Book

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Bipolar Disorder: Using DBT to Regain Control of Your Emotions and Your Life (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)

Even if you've just been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it's likely that you've been living with it for a long time. You've probably already developed your own ways of coping with recurring...
Edward Phillips
Physical Therapy
Rooted in Buddhist practices, mindfulness teaches us to live each moment as it unfolds and accept it without judgment. By doing so, you slow the breakneck pace of modern life and participate more fully in life. One intriguing study measured electrical activity in the brain before, immediately after, and four months after a two-month course of mindfulness. Participants experienced persistent increased activity on the left side of the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with joyful, serene emotions.

With so much going on around you, it's easy to get distracted. The trouble is you tend to miss critical details when you’re distracted, which can make you stressed and uneasy. Being mindful -- really tuning in to the present, not the past or the future -- can help you focus on handling the tasks at hand. Spend some time every day noticing the things most people tend to ignore, such as breathing, bodily sensations and emotions. Try breathing exercises, or chi-gong (qigong) or yoga to help focus your mind and body. This won't happen overnight, but with practice, you'll notice a difference.

Continue Learning about Mental Health Basics

Eating Processed Meats Can Affect Your Mental Health
Eating Processed Meats Can Affect Your Mental Health
Beef jerky has been around for centuries (the Conquistadors called the Inca’s dried, smoked llama charqui, from their word ch’arki; in North America i...
Read More
How can having a strong social support system help me deal with illness?
Debra Fulghum Bruce PhDDebra Fulghum Bruce PhD
When we are tied emotionally to those in our social network, we can express our feelings of fear...
More Answers
What kind of injuries do people who hurt themselves cause?
Armin BrottArmin Brott
The most common types of injury in persons who hurt themselves are biting, cutting, burning skin, an...
More Answers
What Common Addiction Behaviors Fascinate You?
What Common Addiction Behaviors Fascinate You?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.