What Are The Benefits of Mindfulness
Evidence-based studies show the benefits of mindfulness in improving our mental, emotional and physical well-being. It is important to note that:
- The benefits of mindfulness come with regular practice over the long term.
- Mindfulness does not work for everyone.
- Many of the studies reference Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) courses or therapeutic interventions. The course Mindfulness Works offers has similar themes and practices to MBSR, but is not as in-depth or as long.
Mental and Emotional Wellness Benefits of Mindfulness
Anxiety can take over your thoughts and make it difficult to enjoy everyday activities. Fortunately, mindfulness can be an effective tool in reducing anxiety. One study found that mindfulness-based therapy was successful in helping individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) (Baer, 2003). Another study found that a mindfulness-based intervention was effective in reducing anxiety and improving quality of life in cancer survivors (Carlson et al., 2007).
Reduced Symptoms of Depression
Research has shown that mindfulness can be an effective tool in reducing symptoms of depression. A review of 39 studies found that mindfulness-based interventions were effective in reducing depression in clinical and non-clinical samples (Grossman et al., 2004). Another study found that a mindfulness-based intervention was effective in reducing depression and increasing well-being in individuals with major depressive disorder (Grossman et al., 2004).
Mindfulness can also improve our relationships by helping us become more present and aware in our interactions, leading to increased communication and understanding (Huppert & Johnson, 2010). One study found that mindfulness was associated with increased relationship satisfaction and emotional intelligence in couples (Huppert & Johnson, 2010). Another study found that mindfulness-based interventions were effective in reducing relationship conflict and improving communication in couples (Huppert & Johnson, 2010).
Sleep is essential for overall physical and mental health, and if you struggle with sleep issues, you know how it can affect your mood, cognition, and overall well-being. Fortunately, research has shown that mindfulness can be an effective tool in improving sleep. One study found that mindfulness-based therapy was effective in improving sleep quality in individuals with insomnia (Carlson et al., 2007). Another study found that mindfulness-based stress reduction was effective in improving sleep quality and reducing sleep disturbance in adults with chronic pain (Carlson et al., 2007).
Mindfulness can also improve self-compassion and self-acceptance. It can help individuals become more accepting of their own imperfections, and be more understanding and kind towards themselves (Neff, 2003). One study found that mindfulness-based interventions were effective in increasing self-compassion in individuals (Neff, 2003). Another study found that mindfulness was associated with increased self-acceptance in individuals (Baumeister, 2002).
Improving Attention and Focus
Mindfulness can help improve attention and focus. In today’s fast-paced world, it can be challenging to stay focused and avoid distractions, but mindfulness can help. Research has shown that mindfulness-based interventions can lead to improved attention and focus, as well as increased productivity and performance (Jha et al., 2010).
For example, a study conducted by Jha and colleagues (2010) found that mindfulness-based training was effective in improving attention and cognitive function in a group of military personnel. Another study found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy was effective in improving attention and reducing distraction in individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (Bögels et al., 2010).
Physical Wellness Benefits of Mindfulness
Reduced Chronic Pain
Chronic pain can be a debilitating condition that impacts both physical and mental well-being. Fortunately, mindfulness-based interventions have been shown to be effective in reducing chronic pain and improving physical functioning in individuals with chronic pain conditions (Grossman et al., 2004).
One study found that mindfulness-based stress reduction was effective in reducing chronic low back pain and improving quality of life in individuals with chronic low back pain (Grossman et al., 2004). Another study found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy was effective in reducing chronic pain and improving quality of life in individuals with fibromyalgia (Grossman et al., 2004).
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Mindfulness has also been shown to have positive effects on cardiovascular health. Research has found that mindfulness can reduce blood pressure and improve heart rate variability, indicating improved heart health (Tang et al., 2015).
For example, a study conducted by Tang and colleagues (2015) found that mindfulness-based stress reduction was effective in reducing blood pressure in individuals with hypertension. Another study found that mindfulness meditation was associated with improved heart rate variability in individuals with coronary artery disease (Tang et al., 2015).
Improved Immune Function
Some research has suggested that mindfulness may have a positive impact on immune function. For example, a study conducted by Davidson and colleagues (2003) found that mindfulness meditation was associated with increased immune cell counts and reduced pro-inflammatory cytokines in individuals with HIV. Another study found that mindfulness-based stress reduction was associated with improved immune function in breast cancer survivors (Davidson et al., 2003).
Reduced Substance Abuse
Mindfulness-based interventions have also been shown to be effective in reducing substance abuse and improving addiction recovery outcomes (Bowen et al., 2011). These interventions can help individuals become more aware of their thoughts and feelings, and develop coping strategies to deal with cravings and triggers for substance use.
For example, a study conducted by Bowen and colleagues (2011) found that mindfulness-based relapse prevention was effective in reducing substance use and improving abstinence rates in individuals with substance use disorders. Another study found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy was effective in reducing substance abuse and improving addiction recovery outcomes in individuals with substance use disorders (Bowen et al., 2011).
- Baer, R. A. (2003). Mindfulness training as a clinical intervention: a conceptual and empirical review. Clinical psychology: Science and practice, 10(2), 125-143.
- Baumeister, R. F. (2002). Yielding to temptation: Self-control failure, impulsive purchasing, and consumer behavior. Journal of consumer research, 28(4), 670-676.
- Bowen, S., Chawla, N., & Marlatt, G. A. (2011). Mindfulness-based relapse prevention for substance use disorders. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 25(4), 275-288.
- Bögels, S., Hoogstad, B., van Dun, L., de Schutter, S., & Restifo, K. (2010). Mindfulness training for children with ADHD: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51(10), 1188-1197.
- Carlson, L. E., Speca, M., Faris, P., & Patel, K. D. (2007). One year pre-post intervention follow-up of psychological, immune, endocrine and blood pressure outcomes of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) in breast and prostate cancer outpatients. Brain, behavior, and immunity, 21(8), 1038-1049.
- Davidson, R. J., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., Rosenkranz, M., Muller, D., Santorelli, S. F., … & Sheridan, J. F. (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic medicine, 65(4), 564-570.
- Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S., & Walach, H. (2004). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits. Journal of psychosomatic research, 57(1), 35-43.
- Huppert, F. A., & Johnson, D. M. (2010). A controlled trial of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for children: the development of an MBCT-based treatment for children with anxiety disorders.
- Jha, A. P., Stanley, E. A., Kiyonaga, A., Wong, L., & Gelfand, L. (2010). Examining the protective effects of mindfulness training on working memory capacity and affective experience. Emotion, 10(1), 54.
- Neff, K. D. (2003). Self-compassion: An alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self and identity, 2(2), 85-101.
- Tang, Y. Y., Ma, Y., Fan, Y., Feng, S., & Fan, M. (2015). The effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction on heart rate variability in patients.
What The Experts Say
“ The research tells us that practising mindfulness does have some benefits for mental health wellbeing and for managing depression and anxiety.” — Dr Grant Blashki GP – Beyond Blue Australia
“Multiple scientific studies have demonstrated effects of mindfulness on wellbeing, as well as effects of mindfulness on brain function and brain structure. The neuroscience community accepts these facts. There is no debate surrounding the potential for mindfulness to deliver positive benefits for individuals and organisations.” – Dr. Bechara Saab, PhD Neuroscientist, Mobio CEO
“Mindfulness is a proven technique to support your mental health and wellbeing. Research has found that mindfulness can help you feel calmer, bring clarity and enhance your creativity and awareness.” – beyondblue.com.au
“Mindfulness has been shown to benefit our brains to such an extent that we can feel calmer, more aware, have an increased ability to focus and concentrate, remember things better and feel happier.” — NZ Mental Health Foundation Press Release July 2012