Is mindfulness linked to improved health

Mindfulness (psychology, psyche)

Personality psychology

Definition: Mindfulness is an intentional, non-judgmental and non-judgmental perception / becoming aware of one's own emotions and thoughts.

Mindful people care less about positive feedback

Mindfulness: People who are conscious of their own thoughts and emotions are less dependent on positive feedback from others and immediate rewards, according to a new study from the University of Toronto Scarborough.

"These findings suggest that mindful people are less stimulated by immediate rewards, and they go well with the view that these people are also typically less impulsive and mentally healthier," says psychological writer Rimma Teper.


Image: Stefan Schweihofer (pixabay)

The quality of mindfulness (conscious attention to oneself and others) is characterized by the ability to recognize one's own thoughts and emotions and to accept them without judgment.

The researchers used electroencephalography (EEG) to record the participants' brain activity as they completed a reaction task on the computer.

The psychologists were interested in the participants' brain activity in response to performance feedback, which was either rewarding, neutral, or negative.

It found that mindful individuals not only exhibited fewer neural responses than others to rewarding feedback, there were also fewer differences in their neural response to neutral versus rewarding feedback.

Accept your own emotions -> mentally healthy

The findings also reflect other clinical research studies that say that accepting your emotions is an important sign of mental health and wellbeing.

"For example, people with problem gambling and betting behaviors have stronger neural responses to immediate rewards because they're usually more impulsive," says Teper.

"Many studies, including our own recent work, have shown that meditating and mindful individuals have improved self-control. When mindful individuals are less influenced by immediate rewards, as our study suggests, it helps explain why that is," says Teper's doctoral supervisor and UTSC psychology professor Michael Inzlicht.

© - Source: University of Toronto, Nov. 2013

Dispositional mindfulness has been linked to better cardiovascular health

25.10.2014 People who are more attentive to their feelings and experiences also have better cardiovascular health. More specifically, Brown University researchers found a clear association between 'dispositional mindfulness' and four indicators of cardiovascular health, as well as overall health.

Dispositional mindfulness is defined as awareness and attention directed towards current thinking and feeling.

The one in the magazine International Journal of Behavioral Medicine The published study is the first to quantify an association between mindfulness and improved cardiovascular health, said study leader Eric Loucks of Brown University Epidemiology. It is an encouraging link in promoting our health as mindfulness can be improved through exercise.

Image: Gerd Altmann (pixabay)

Mindfulness interventions

"Mindfulness can be increased and standardized mindfulness interventions are available," said Loucks. "Mainly used to improve mental health and pain management, but they are also increasingly used for cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, smoking and high blood pressure."

In the study, 382 participants answered 15 questions from the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), which measured the attentiveness of the respondents.

The MAAS scale recorded them on a six-point scale from 'almost always' to 'almost never' with questions such as: "I find it difficult to concentrate on what is currently going on." and "I usually don't notice signs of physical tension or discomfort until they attract my attention."

Cardiovascular health

Participants were also screened for seven cues of cardiovascular health, as suggested by the American Heart Association:

  • Do not smoke,
  • physical activity,
  • Body mass index,
  • Fruit and vegetable consumption,
  • Cholesterol,
  • Blood pressure and
  • Fasting blood sugar.

The researchers also recorded the participants' age, race, gender, education, and scores on standardized depression tests and how they felt in control of their lives.

It showed that participants with high MAAS scores (i.e. high levels of mindfulness) were 83% more likely to have good overall cardiovascular health compared to those who achieved relatively low MAAS scores. The more mindful participants performed better on four of the seven individual indicators in particular: BMI, physical activity, blood sugar and non-smoking.

The higher level of awareness was not associated with a higher blood pressure or cholesterol score; probably because these health indicators cannot directly affect how someone is feeling at any given moment, while smoking, obesity (and closely related blood sugar), and physical activity are all much more apparent when one takes care of oneself.

Fruit and vegetable consumption, signs of food quality, showed a positive relationship with higher MAAS scores, but these were not statistically significant.

Why Do Mindful People Show Better Cardiovascular Health? The connection can come because mindful people are better able to perceive and act on their various needs (and things that are harmful to their health, Loucks said. For example, mindfulness exercises have been used effectively to help people quit smoking.

© - Source: International Journal of Behavioral Medicine / Brown University, October 2014

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