Proven Health And Lifestyle Benefits Of Mindfulness

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated November 29, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team
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Donald Altman—award-winning author, psychotherapist, and former Buddhist monk—probably best expressed the core principle of mindfulness with this quote from his definitive book, The Mindfulness Code: Keys for Overcoming Stress, Anxiety, Fear, and Unhappiness: "If you truly want to change your life, you must first be willing to change your mind." 

But really: What is mindfulness, and what are the benefits of mindfulness? 

The Mindful Awareness Research Center at the University of California at Los Angeles gives us a sweeping definition, stating that "Mindful awareness is the moment-by-moment process of actively and openly observing one's physical, mental, and emotional experiences”.

For many, this can be simple in a day-to-day sense, possibly showing up as a state of complete attention to the present, allowing one to live in the moment—without worry about the future or the past. 

Read on to learn more about the many possible health and lifestyle benefits that can happen as a result of the intentional pursuit of mindfulness.

Mindfulness Can Be A Key To A Healthier Life

When the topic of health is brought up, the first thing that people might think about is their physical health. However, the possible benefits of mindfulness can all apply to other aspects of our overall health—both mental and emotional—as well. 

Throughout all of these aspects of health—from mind to body to emotions—the benefits of mindfulness are ever-present in many.

To properly learn about mindfulness, it can be helpful to include mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) in our contextual understanding. This strategy is known by many as an actual mental health program that can leverage the power of mindfulness in stress reduction, possibly encouraging resiliency in those who practice it. 

MBSR is thought by many to have originated from centuries-old teachings and was formally developed in the 1970s at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center by Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn—once a student of Thich Nhất Hanh.

One study noted the benefits of online MBSR availability during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it “[allowed participants to avoid] direct personal contact, [reached] out to remote places, [offered] availability [to] frail and physically disabled persons, availability to a larger population, and delivery at a minimal cost.” 

These benefits can apply to the world of online therapy as well.

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The Most Common Benefits Of Mindfulness

There are many evidence-based benefits to pursuing mindfulness. We’ve summarized some of the most notable below: 

Mindfulness Can Help To Reduce Stress

Out of all of the benefits of mindfulness, stress reduction often receives the most praise. Stress can be an ever-present experience for many, so being able to feel and see the results in your life can be motivating for many.

MBSR and other associated studies have given suggested evidence that indicates that many can benefit from consistent mindfulness practices—from police officers to healthcare professionals, or veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder

Studies, such as the linked study above, have found evidence that suggests that after just a few sessions of mindfulness-based stress reduction, individuals who had exhibited symptoms of stress were now reporting feelings of:

  • Increased focus and attentiveness
  • Lowered levels of nervousness
  • Higher levels of perceptiveness
  • Increased clarity in thought processes
  • Increased feelings of calmness

Mindfulness Can Actually Make You Smarter

Many religions have made use of mindfulness in their daily practice for hundreds of years. From the range of spiritual meditative techniques often associated with Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism, to the prayer-focused meditative techniques of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, the core facets of mindfulness are generally thought to have permeated all of these practices. 

Research has shown strong evidence of meditative experiences that can exist in and out of religion being associated with increased cortical thickness; especially in brain regions associated with attention, enteroception  and sensory processing. 

Individuals with increased cortical thickness may experience a range of benefits that are associated with the variation, such as greater attentiveness, sensory processing abilities, and self-awareness.”

Mindfulness Can Help You To Get Things Done

This may seem counterintuitive to some degree since mindfulness, and the practices that surround it, can promote core beliefs like 'thinking about not thinking.' However, if one sits down and practices mindfulness for themselves, they may realize that the idea is not as farfetched as it sounds.

It has been noted how the benefits of mindfulness can assist one in aspects of their life, such as helping to deal with stress from a job or within a difficult family dynamic. In addition to this, many sources suggest that mindfulness can promote an increased attention span and a higher degree of focus in your everyday life.

In this digital age, where information and distractions are both just a button press away, being truly focused and attentive to the task at hand can be an invaluable life skill to have. Mindfulness can teach focus and discipline in both mind and body, possibly allowing for greater strength and fortitude to see distractions— leaving them for when the task at hand is dealt with.

Mindfulness Might Strengthen The Body

When it comes to strengthening their bodies, many people may focus on jogging, eating right, going on a diet, or regular visits to the gym. These are generally regarded by many as great ways to take care of your body, strengthen it, and ultimately live a healthy life; however, it is important not to overlook mindfulness as a tool.

Some easily measurable benefits of mindfulness that are reported include:

  • Lower heart rate
  • Higher levels of brain functioning
  • A reduction in psychological distress
  • Increased immune function

Research has also shown that mindfulness, in conjunction with other practices like yoga, can help to facilitate recovery in breast cancer survivors. This can show promise for those with other chronic conditions, who may be looking for a low-risk and available supportive strategy to try for a higher quality of life.

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Looking For Support On Your Mindfulness Journey?

How Can Online Therapy Support Those Pursuing Mindfulness? 

Online therapy can be a worthwhile support to those who are working to incorporate mindfulness in their daily patterns. This type of therapeutic modality can be especially effective, connecting you to a therapist without the strain or inconvenience that an in-person appointment would potentially put on your schedule. Your therapist can then work with you on personalized exercises that can help to establish mindfulness as a go-to supportive strategy for your specific needs. 

Is Online Therapy Effective

Many sources have found that online therapy can be equally as effective as in-person therapeutic treatment. The National Council on Aging has found that it can be especially useful in addressing conditions such as anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression—all of which can undermine attempts to incorporate mindfulness in one’s life. 


Generally speaking, you are never too young or too old to take advantage of the benefits of mindfulness. From kids and teenagers to parents and the elderly, the mental, physical, and emotional benefits of mindfulness can be felt by most.  A licensed mental health therapist can give you the initial support that many require to begin chasing mindfulness on a daily basis. BetterHelp can connect you with an online therapist in your area of need.

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The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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