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Remarkable Brain Health Benefits of Mindfulness Practices

Did you know that mindfulness and meditation practices are some of the best things you can do to stave off cognitive decline and improve your mental and overall brain health? It’s true! There are remarkable brain health benefits of mindfulness practices.

According to “Meditation and Its Mental and Physical Health Benefits in 2023”, “the health benefits of meditation have positively affected the immune system and genetics. Mindfulness has shown an improved anti-inflammatory response and healthy aging. There are also fruitful benefits seen in physical and mental health, which are positive.”

Research Studies Show Remarkable Brain Health Benefits of Mindfulness Practices

What’s more, other studies back up these findings in that mindfulness practices are commonly linked to enhanced well-being, life satisfaction, and vitality. Take this study, “The Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies,” for instance. 

In this comprehensive study, researchers explored the construct of mindfulness, the differences between Buddhist and Western psychological conceptualizations of mindfulness, and the integration of mindfulness into Western medicine and psychology. They also conducted a thorough review of “three areas of empirical research: cross-sectional, correlational research on the associations between mindfulness and various indicators of psychological health; intervention research on the effects of mindfulness-oriented interventions on psychological health; and laboratory-based, experimental research on the immediate effects of mindfulness inductions on emotional and behavioral functioning.” 

The researchers’ findings are truly encouraging. Mindfulness has been found to bring about many positive psychological effects, including increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms and emotional reactivity, and improved behavioral regulation. The evidence from correlational research is particularly promising, suggesting that mindfulness is positively associated with various indicators of psychological health.

These include higher levels of positive affect, life satisfaction, vitality, and adaptive emotion regulation, as well as lower levels of negative affect and psychopathological symptoms. Furthermore, emerging evidence from neurobiological and laboratory behavioral research points to the potential roles of trait mindfulness and mindfulness meditation practices in reducing reactivity to emotional stimuli and enhancing psychological well-being.

Meditation, Mindfulness, and Mental Health in Recovery 

In this episode of Positive Recovery MD, Empower Your Mind: Helpful Practices for Mental Health Awareness, Dr. Jason Powers discusses the importance of meditation and mindfulness practices and how mental illness and substance use disorder go hand in hand. As Dr. Powers highlights, nearly 80% of individuals he sees being treated for substance use disorders also struggle with a co-occurring mental illness as well. However, he reminds listeners that there is nothing to feel ashamed of. Many of us struggle with mental illness in some capacity, such as anxiety, depression, or a variety of other mental illnesses. 

Because mental illness and substance use disorder are so closely related, Dr. Powers shares that “if you’re not treating addiction and mental illness, you’re not treating either.” The truth is, when helping individuals with the underlying reasons behind substance use, we have a significantly higher chance of assisting them to fully recover. 

Our minds are powerful machines, and our approach to healing should be as comprehensive and integrated as possible. By addressing both mental illness and addiction together, we can unlock a more effective path to recovery. This dual approach ensures that treatment is not a temporary fix but a long-lasting solution, providing individuals with the tools and support they need to reclaim their lives. 

As we evolve our understanding and treatment methods, it becomes clear that there are remarkable brain health benefits to mindfulness practices. This type of holistic care is crucial in transforming lives and fostering genuine, sustainable recovery.

The Best Time to Practice Meditation and Mindfulness

Now that we know integrating healthy coping skills like meditation and mindfulness are vital to both our mental health and addiction recovery, when is the best time to incorporate these practices? 

Dr. Powers states, “Meditation and mindfulness are things to practice when all is calm and well. During the easy times, we can build up the strength to apply when things happen and when we are stressed. In the middle of a panic attack, it is not the time to start practicing mindfulness or meditation.” 

Starting your journey with meditation and mindfulness during quieter, calm moments in life is vital because it builds resilience for when life becomes more challenging. Think of it as a mental gym where you strengthen your mind’s resilience muscles. By establishing a regular practice, you ensure that when life inevitably throws challenges your way, you’re ready to handle them with a calmer, more centered approach. 

If you wait to instill these healthy coping skills until you’re experiencing high levels of anxiety, stress, or depression, it significantly reduces their effectiveness. However, focusing on your mental health by strengthing your mind’s resilience during the calm before the storm, focusing on your breath, or finding gratitude amongst the chaos is proven more effective. 

Find the Support You Need 

You don’t have to go at this alone, though. Surrounding yourself with a supportive community can help guide you back on track. As Dr. Powers shares, “Make sure you have professional help if needed, and find something you enjoy doing during the down and easy times. When you know what hits the fan, it’s not the time to develop the resources; it’s time to hold on. During those times, surround yourself with trusted people who can help you get through it.”

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month (and beyond), we want to destigmatize mental illness and addiction. If you or someone you know is struggling with an alcohol or drug addiction, we are here to help! Many of us have walked this same path and want to see you succeed.  Please call us at 877-697-1383 to speak with a substance use professional today. 

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