So is there really any benefit in doing mindfulness, meditation or self hypnosis on a regular basis?
This is a question we get asked quite regularly. People try it once and find they really like it, but then say they don’t have the time to do it every day. It’s really all about making it a priority, after all most people manage to make a priority to not miss their favourite TV show on a Thursday night, or go to the gym etc.
But why bother making it a priority? What’s the benefit?
To answer these questions we need to split this into three responses;
1. The first one being the positive effect on your mental health
2. The second one being the positive effect on your physical health
3. The third, and possibly the least understood is the way it teaches our subconscious mind how to adapt and cope better in the future when things get stressful, tense or we become anxious.
Positive Mental Health
A lot of research has gone into the effect of regular meditation, mindfulness and self hypnosis. It has shown a measurable positive change on the way we think and feel about our self and outlook on life in general. Many studies have shown time and again how regular wellbeing sessions create a hugely positive effect on our minds. It allows us to cope better, think more clearly, work better under pressure, improve decision making skills and cognitive abilities. Interestingly, not one single study has ever shown a negative effect or no positive benefit. Regularly practicing such disciplines really does create a wonderful win- win situation.
Positive Physical Health
Ok, so if you’re not sold yet, read on…..Many studies show that a single session of meditation, mindfulness or self hypnosis lowers blood pressure. Not only during the session, but for a period of time afterwards too. In fact it has been shown to be as effective as blood pressure medication for lowering blood pressure. So we have a way to lower climbing blood pressure that requires no drugs and has NO SIDE EFFECTS…except really positive ones!
Another huge benefit is the way it can lower levels of the stress hormone CORTISOL.
WHY IS LOWERING CORTISOL A GOOD THING?
When we feel stressed or are under stress, we release Cortisol. Cortisol is a long lasting steroid hormone. Almost every cell contains receptors for Cortisol, each causing different actions depending on which sort of cells it is acting upon.
These effects include controlling the body’s blood sugar levels and thus regulating metabolism, acting as an anti-inflammatory, influencing memory formation, controlling salt and water balance, influencing blood pressure and helping development of the foetus.
The immune system is suppressed by Cortisol!
Too much Cortisol can cause:
- Rapid weight gain mainly in the face, chest and abdomen - Raised blood pressure - Osteoporosis (Long term) - Skin changes (bruises and purple stretch marks) - Muscle weakness - Mood swings e.g. anxiety, depression or irritability - Increased thirst and frequency of urination
High Cortisol levels over a prolonged time can also cause lack of sex drive in both men and women. Also, in women, periods can become irregular, less frequent or stop altogether.
So you can see from this that the potential benefit, both physically and mentally of stopping high levels of cortisol is huge.
LOWERING CORTISOL HOLDS THE KEY TO
FEELING NOTABLY MORE AWESOME!
The third benefit of regularly practicing such techniques is the way that it teaches our subconscious minds how to cope better. Our subconscious mind is like a sponge, constantly absorbing new things and LEARNING new things.
It does an amazing job of keeping you safe whilst adhering to core values and beliefs. When it encounters something new, it learns and adapts. If the new thing is less effective than what we already know or do, it is ignored. However if the new thing we encounter or do is better or has a positive effect, our subconscious will use it.
As we practice regular mindfulness, meditation and self hypnosis, we teach our subconscious mind:
How to relax quickly
How to regulate our breathing and heart rate
How to switch off from outside stressors
How to turn off our fight, flight or freeze response
Each time we do this our mind learns the technique and becomes highly efficient at doing it. This results in the ability to rapidly take ourselves from a heightened state of stress, to a deeply calm and relaxed state. It also teaches our subconscious how to do it without our conscious input i.e. it begins to happen automatically which has the effect of reducing our overall levels of stress or anxiety. So if you’re usually flying round with a stress level of 10 out of 10, your new normal level could be considerable lower.
So, should you practice meditation, mindfulness or self hypnosis regularly?
It’s up to you…
We're all off to do ours…
The Wellbeing Way - Putting Your Mental Health First