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The Importance of Mindfulness

Have you noticed how radiant people look when they are at peace, happy or doing well? There is a reason for that! Emotional and mental distress can speed up cellular aging, even impacting our DNA! Psychology Today states, “The long-term effects of chronic stress, anxiety and depression shorten DNA telomeres. The length of a telomere indicates biological and cellular health.” A study at the University of California, showed “traumatic and stressful situations over the course of a person’s life link to shortened telomeres, resulting in chronic diseases and premature death.” These can even be passed down genetically and none of us want “short straws”. The good news? Research and studies show that meditation and mindfulness activities DO lengthen telomeres! Set a daily intention to make time for your mental well-being. While nothing takes the place of seeing a licensed therapist, adding mindful moments to your daily routine can be a big boost to your mental health.

Have you noticed how radiant people look when they are at peace, happy or doing well? There is a reason for that! Emotional and mental distress can speed up cellular aging, even impacting our DNA! Psychology Today states, “The long-term effects of chronic stress, anxiety and depression shorten DNA telomeres. The length of a telomere indicates biological and cellular health.” A study at the University of California, showed “traumatic and stressful situations over the course of a person’s life link to shortened telomeres, resulting in chronic diseases and premature death.” These can even be passed down genetically and none of us want “short straws”. The good news? Research and studies show that meditation and mindfulness activities DO lengthen telomeres! Here are some tips!

  1. DEEP BREATHING! In yoga, breathing techniques are called “Pranayama” or “life-force energy”. Your cells, muscles and even brain need oxygen to thrive! Start daily breathing exercises where you control and count the time you inhale and exhale. Practicing regularly increases oxygen capacity and helps you to de-stress and redirect your thoughts.
  2. MINDFULNESS! Be present in the moment! Cultivate moments of stillness and observation. Think about what you are doing while you are doing it. Notice details. Listen, observe, and savor life.
  3. MEDITATION! By watching your thoughts through a compassionate, nonjudgmental lens, you can focus on the ones that are most beneficial. It also helps to root out negative thought patterns and perspectives to keep the mind a healthier, calmer, and more positive place. In yoga, this is called the “Higher Witness Mind”. Start with two 5-10 minute sessions a day; one in the morning and one in the evening.  Add another when you feel overwhelmed. Think of meditation as a time to simply “recharge” and unwind the mind.
  4. FAITH! Have faith by believing that things will work out for good.  This will help with overall wellness by cultivating a positive outlook on life. Connect with a tribe of people who hold this same belief and that will support you and return the favor. Keep the circle of encouragement going!
  5. NATURE! Getting in touch with nature can be grounding. The fresh air, sunshine and beauty of nature can refuel and shift your energy. A time outside each day can boost the immune system, lower blood pressure and increases focus! Go find your time, whether gardening, hiking, a picnic outside or enjoying a walk at sunset!

Set a daily intention to make time for your mental wellbeing. While nothing takes the place of seeing a licensed therapist, adding these tips to your daily routine can be a big boost to your mental health.

*For our full article on Cultivating Mindfulness, see the May 2019 issue of Gulf Coast Women’s Magazine, page 64.


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