Mindfulness and outlook

January 10, 2024 • Brain health

Woman Meditating SmOur brain was created to occasionally handle a little stress, but when we are stressed all the time, it is not ideal for our memory. This happens because our brain is too busy thinking about what is stressing us out, also called cognitive overload, it cannot focus on remembering daily things. A helpful way to deal with too much stress is through mindfulness. Mindfulness includes activities like meditation, imagining peaceful scenes, and deep breathing.

Practicing mindfulness can make you feel better and think clearer. It helps you focus and not get distracted, which is good for your brain. By doing mindfulness exercises, we can train our brains to react differently to stress. For example, a part of the brain that deals with fear and worry, called the amygdala, can get smaller when we meditate regularly. This can make us less anxious and depressed and instead, happier!

Mindfulness also helps other parts of the brain. There is a part called the anterior cingulate cortex that helps us control ourselves, switch between tasks, and learn from mistakes. This part gets more active when people meditate. Another important part is the hippocampus, which is all about emotions and memory. Too much stress can cause it to decrease and become not as sharp, but mindfulness can make it stronger. This is important because both these areas help with our memory and paying careful attention to stress reduction through medication could even lower the risk of memory problems as we get older.

Finally, meditation can lower cortisol, which is a stress hormone. When we have less cortisol, we can feel happier, have a better immune system, have better sleep, and have a lower chance of getting long-term illnesses like chronic pain and obesity.

Consider incorporating mindfulness into your daily life by:

  • Practice mindful eating.
  • Taking some deep breaths to ground yourself.
  • Download a meditation application.

More information on mindfulness, please visit: