The following piece is a guest post:
Always matter, never mind; always mind, never matter. These are sentiments once expressed to describe competing lines of thinking about ourselves and the world around us. It was not until the birth of dualism that we would start to realize how important the two work together.
Today, science has shown us with multiple studies the importance of attitude and thought; that a person mindful of themselves and the world can live longer, healthier and happier. The exact mechanism is not fully understood, but the results are clear enough.
So why then is mindfulness so important when it comes to wellness?
Placebo vs. Nocebo
Our beliefs and thoughts about the world around us and ourselves shape more than just our perceptions; they literally affect how we respond to medical treatment and how we recover from illness. The most notable areas this is demonstrated in is when you compare the placebo effect to the lesser known nocebo effect.
The placebo effect is best described as when someone experiences positive results from a treatment or medication that, for all intents and purposes, does nothing. It is the “sugar pill” that miraculously makes someone feel better. And incredibly, it works very well, in some cases better than the actual treatment.
The nocebo effect is an opposite mechanism; the person feels as though the treatment or medicine will make them feel worse or that they won’t recover, and as a result, that’s exactly what happens. Incredibly, this effect is so strong that it can even dull the effects of pain relief medications.
A person who is not mindful of themselves or the world around them is less likely to be positive and more likely to experience nocebo effects than placebo effects.
Mind and Matter
Coordinating the mind and body takes practice. And like a muscle, a mind that is utilized in a poor or inefficient way can lead to self-injury. We observe this in a variety of different circumstances every day.
Take the road as an example.
Drivers who are not mindful become surprised or aggravated more easily. This constant chain of ups and downs as a result of poor mindfulness can trigger changes in heart rate, increased levels of adrenaline and greater stress on the body as a whole.
The element of stress generated by poor mindfulness is of particular concern as it pertains to long-term health. Stress continues to be identified as a major player in health, with possible links to cardiovascular disease, chronic headaches and even depression.
Yet stress can be managed by changing how you perceive it. Simply putting stressors into perspective and learning coping skills will reduce the effect of stress, thus reducing the taxing effect on the body.
Of course what naturally follows is what you do in response to a stressful situation. Those that take the time to carefully examine problems and look for novel solutions demonstrate the mindfulness needed to be successful and healthy.
Beyond ourselves we often have many possessions. For some that may be considered good, but others view the overwhelming clutter as both a point of frustration and burden. Being mindful with our possessions sometimes means choosing what to let go and how to coordinate what remains.
Those that work at home or spend a substantial amount of time using the computer may find relief by maintaining an organized workspace with minimal distractions. Choosing a mindful strategy means reducing paperwork by addressing any documents as soon as they’re received and disposing of or filing them appropriately.
The benefits are both mental and physical; having a clear workspace reduces stress and feelings of being overwhelmed, while having a clean workspace makes cleaning easier and prevents dust or bugs from making residence in your space.
And while organizing your physical workspace might seem obvious, we tend to forget that mindful attention to our digital workspace is just as important. Take the standard home computer—many turn their PC or Mac on only to find a desktop endlessly burdened with files long since forgotten and no system to reasonably locate anything.
The same is often true of passwords and accounts. We find ourselves burdened with dozens, many with similar information. The accompanying frustration when we forget a password or loss access to one account is all too familiar to most of us.
Rather than allow those concerns to burden our minds, the mindful thinker instead organizes access with management apps (LastPass, for instance) and maintains a tight lock on security with the use of security software such as VPNs and anti-malware suites.
As mindfulness contributes to how we make our decisions each day, it contributes heavily to the choices we make with regards to diet. When we are aware of the foods we eat, what nutrition they contribute to us, how they were grown and where they come from, we make different decisions.
Those who are not mindful are less likely to choose healthy foods because the food itself is nothing more than something tasty to satiate hunger. There is no depth in the food’s meaning and so there is no need to look past its taste.
Yet diet is an important part of health. Those who consume sugary beverages are at considerably greater risk of developing diabetes. Those that don’t consume vegetables run the risk of becoming deficient in crucial vitamins, including B vitamins (which are integral in supporting the nervous system).
The connection is also cyclical; awareness promotes mindfulness and mindfulness fosters awareness.
Health as a Whole
What we have known intuitively and what science is still revealing is that there is an integral connection between how mindful we are of the world and how healthy we can be. Movements towards maintaining a healthier environment free of pollution, contaminants and disease are motivated by mindfulness that promotes our awareness. And a healthy world protects our well- being.
Together, we hope to promote the kind of mindful thinking that will build a healthier, wealthier tomorrow. So the next time you’re thinking about wellness, give some consideration to yourself and the world around you. You might just find some opportunities to improve on both ends.
How do you encourage mindfulness in your own life? Do you take a few minutes each day just for yourself? Leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts.
About the Author:
Faith is a forward-thinking blogger that specializes in health and technology.
She writes to discuss the various challenges we face today in maintaining our wellbeing as technology becomes more advanced.