Mindfulness and Body : Treating Lower Back Pain

man with a walking stickOver 100 million Americans suffer from some form of chronic pain–that’s nearly half of all adults in the country. As such, treatments from hospital visits, medication, and the like, amount to more than half a trillion dollars in a given year, according to studies. Furthermore, it should be noted that those who report and receive some form of treatment for disability as a result of pain, are mostly affected by lower back problems, amounting to more than 26 million Americans. This is a national issue.

Treatment for lower back pain typically includes various types of pain medication and sometimes surgery. The problems with latter are that they further delay productivity and can be dangerous, given the sensitivity of the area and its function to the overall body. The process of recovery from surgery can take about four months, making it less of an option for those which have jobs that require them to be available. That leaves medication, which can either decrease inflammation or cut off the pain itself. While commonly effective, there are potential, unpleasant side effects, including stomach pains, fatigue, heart attacks, and dependency.

However, recent research shows that the process of mindfulness meditation can be effective in treating this epidemic. Researchers lead Dr. Natalia Morone at the University of Pittsburgh, asked a group of 282 seniors to be involved in the study. Over a period of 8 months, total, two groups chosen at random were given different treatments–one was given methods to deal with mindfulness, the other was taught information about health and aging. Both groups experienced successes; however the mindful group had overall better results.

By teaching patients to be more aware of their thoughts and ways focus and feelings of pain can prevent them from completing other tasks, researchers found that the mindful group was better able to cope with pain, resulting in diminished symptoms. More specifically, more than three quarters of the mindful group noted improvements in levels of pain, compared to the same from less than half of those who were only given healthy aging tips. That’s a dramatic difference of 34 percentage points. It should be noted that only these two groups were compared. Other treatments, like those listed above, were not directly involved nor placed alongside the study. Though, Dr. Morone suggests that exercise could improve physical function in addition to the absence or lower level of pain.

These findings are important because they provide an alternative that is arguably healthier than medication and less risky than surgery. Especially for seniors, this option is most attractive and provides more flexibility when it comes to managing day to day activities. Furthermore, the benefits of mindfulness extend beyond dealing with pain and can be used to destress, get better sleep, and live a more positive, healthy life. Hence, learning concepts and developing skills for mindfulness meditation can improve multiple areas of one’s life. That’s the greatest benefit.

Sleep in Mindfulness Peace

father and son asleepFor centuries, people have employed a variety of techniques to help them fall asleep faster, and to do so longer. Those techniques have included everything from warm milk to counting sheep to, currently, sleeping pills and supplements like Melatonin. In a quest to fight insomnia and to get the rest that your body undoubtedly needs, people have and will try most anything. So, why not try mindfulness?

Recent studies show that the practice is effective for aiding in sleep, just as it has been effective for therapeutic techniques and used in the past alongside medications to aid in sleep therapy. The reality is, many of the issues preventing sleep are deeper than mere exhaustion. Things like stress and anxiety will impact one’s ability to rest. You’ve probably experienced this before. You get in bed, prepared to go to sleep, and thoughts of what happened during the day, issues pending for days to come, and any other stressors run through your mind, making it more difficult to truly sleep. Mindfulness gives you a chance to take control of such thoughts and to create a better atmosphere that allows sleep to occur.

In the study, researchers used 49 participants with moderate sleep problems and 54 with chronic insomnia. In both cases, mindfulness increased the quality of sleep as diminished disturbances like constant movement or waking up throughout the night. As a result of better sleep during the night, participants remained more alert throughout the day and in better spirits, showing a decrease in the presence of depression. Thus mindfulness essentially aided in two functions: sleep quality and mental health.

Furthermore, the research showed that the process was effective among all age groups, though most studies show it being most beneficial for the elderly. Another group to have responded positively to the practice is veterans. Understandably, many of them have difficulty sleeping, due to post-traumatic stress and accompanying variables which incite insomnia. So, though the research is still in its infancy, quite a few studies are showing a positive correlation between mindfulness as slumber. Since rest is a very necessary part of our lives, finding tools such as mindfulness to aid in improving any related illnesses, is crucial.

At the moment, the primary treatment for disturbances with sleep exists in the form of medication, with brands like Ambien and Lunesta being the most well-known. However, not all prescriptions are effective, and when they are, the side effects pretty much cancel out existing benefits. For Ambien, in particular, side effects include daytime drowsiness, tiredness and headaches. With results like that, it’s practically the same issues one would encounter because of sleep deprivation. While mindfulness is not an absolute guarantee, there are no detrimental effects.

Hopefully with this research and growing body of knowledge lending additional credence to the ancient practice of mindfulness, we’ll see more people benefiting for all types of problems. We all need sleep; it’s how we live, think, grow. Any resource that can improve our ability to do so, is definitely welcome.

10 Mindful Habits for the Work Place

Here are 10 Mindful Habits that Will Make Your work-flow more productive

Recently mindfulness has become increasingly popular amongst various professions, executives and age groups. Mindfulness mediation has been proven to increase memory, awareness and reduce the impact that negative thinking can have on your mind and body.

Mindfulness doesn’t always consist of committing to some sort of Transcendental meditation group or signing up for a yearly membership at your local yoga studio. There are plenty of simple daily habits that you can engage in in order to make you more productive and happier at work.

Here are 10 Easy Practices from Shamash Alidina and Juliet Adams new book “Mindfulness at Work for Dummies















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