Research has shown that mindfulness may have the potential to improve both blood pressure and heart health in many people (1, 2).
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a centuries-old practice, grounded in Buddhist traditions and Tibetan meditation techniques. In recent years, psychologists and doctors have increasingly recognised the positive impact mindfulness can have on the brain and body.
Clinical Neuropsychologist Dr Miranda Say has shared with us some wonderfully simple ‘practices’ or activities that anyone can do, that can easily be built into a busy day.
Stand up and breathe, feeling your feet on the ground.
Tune into and notice the sensations in your body – can you feel the fabric of your clothes, can you feel a gentle breeze, etc.
Observe your surroundings. What in your immediate environment has beauty you may not have previously noticed?
Positivity is always amongst us – think of one thing you have to feel positive about.
2. Eat mindfully
Instead of gobbling down your mid-morning snack, take time to eat it mindfully. Slow down, smell the food, take a bite and feel the texture in your mouth, take time to notice the flavour and how it changes over time, continue, slowly, noticing the snack with all your senses, until it is finished.
3. Mindful breathing
For one minute, place your hand on your chest, close your eyes, and breathe slowly. Feel your chest rise as you breathe in, hold for a couple of seconds, and slowly breathe out, and feel your chest fall. Repeat, hearing your breath and feeling the oxygen in your lungs and body. If your mind wanders, bring your focus back to your breath.
4. Loving kindness mantra
For one minute, repeat a mantra to yourself with your eyes closed, breathing slowly. As you breathe in, state “I am happy, I am well, I am filled with love and kindness”, breathe out and repeat “I am happy, I am well, I am filled with love and kindness”, and continue for the minute.
If you find that you are feeling symptoms of depression or anxiety or other mood-related issues, it can be helpful to talk to someone, either a family member or friend, or a professional (such as your GP or psychologist). There are anonymous helplines, such as Lifeline 13 11 14 and Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 that operate 24hrs a day 7 days a week.
(1) Rådmark, L., Sidorchuk, A., Osika, W. & Niemi M. (2019). A systematic review and meta-analysis of the impact of mindfulness-based interventions on heart rate variability and inflammatory markers. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 8(10). Doi: 10.3390/jcm8101638.
(2) Intarakamhang, U., Macaskill, A. & Prasittichok, P. (2020). Mindfulness interventions reduce blood pressure in patients with non-communicable diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Heliyon, 6(4). doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e03834.