By now, you’ve probably gotten a general idea of how mindfulness helps to reduce stress and anxiety. After all, it’s those nagging thoughts about the past and future that trigger these issues. But Marks and Bonior both agree that there are other ways in which it improves health. Here are some examples:
* Depression: Mindfulness helps people with depression recognize their own thought patterns, and with therapy they can learn how to replace them, Marks says.
* Pain: Tension only makes pain worse, Bonior says. So if you’re always in pain, mindfulness might help to ease that tension. It’ll also help you focus on other sensory experiences — relaxation plus a distraction equals “the best of both worlds,” she says.
* PTSD: Due to their trauma, Bonior says people with PTSD might not always be connected to their emotional experiences, even when they’re positive. “Mindfulness can help get them re-engaged,” she says.
* Memory: Ever notice how at the end of your day it all feels like a blur? That’s because so many of us never really engage in what we’re doing in the moment, Bonior says. Mindfulness helps us tune into the present, and because of that, we remember more of it — not to mention it becomes a more fulfilling experience.
* Immune system: As mindfulness reduces stress, it also lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can affect how the immune system works, Marks says. In other words, mindfulness helps to build immunity.