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Care for your brain with meditation and mindfulness

Woman meditating outside - meditate holiday stress away
Taking time to meditate or practice mindfulness can lower your stress, help treat insomnia and potentially lower blood pressure.

Stay in the moment. It’s a cliché we’ve all heard, but turns out – this pearl of wisdom can have huge benefits for your health.

Research shows major benefits to practicing mindfulness and meditation — activities that help people focus on the present. Engaging in these activities can help people process information better and reduce anxiety and depression. Mindfulness and meditation may even improve physical health.

Start simple

Meditation falls under the broader category of mindfulness. Generally, meditation involves sitting in a comfortable position in a quiet environment and focusing on something simple, like the sensation of your breath moving in and out.

Meditation often is challenging for people just starting the practice.

“Starting with mindfulness, where you focus on the outside world, may be easier,” said Dr. Jennifer Michels, a psychologist at Marshfield Clinic.

Both practices help us escape the chaos of our conscious minds and place ourselves in the present. Training the brain to meditate is not unlike training the body to run. It takes time and repetition to improve.

Be mindful during everyday activities

You can practice mindfulness and experience its benefits during your daily routine:

  • Focus on the temperature, wind, sky, sounds and people as you walk from your car into work or a store.
  • Hone in on the taste and texture of food when you eat.
  • Think about the feel of hot water on your shoulders as you shower.

Focusing on specific aspects of your current experience brings you into the moment more easily, naturally reducing stress.


“We find that mindfulness and meditation shift neural activity in the brain to areas associated with stress reduction or calming,” Michels said.  “It gets us out of our own heads, and it brings us into the moment.”

People who practice meditation and mindfulness show better abilities to handle stress and regulate emotions and behaviors, Michels said.

Meditation may help with insomnia, and some research suggests it helps people lower blood pressure. Even two- or three-minute sessions of mindfulness can be beneficial.

“With how stressful our lives can be, if we don’t have deliberate things we do for brain health, we may continue to see high rates of burnout, psychiatric conditions and general emotional distress,” Michels said. “I think there is a reasonable likelihood we’re going to wake up 10 years from now with standard recommendations encouraging people to intentionally take care of their brain, just like we recommend routine physical exercise.”

9 responses to “Care for your brain with meditation and mindfulness”

  1. Theresa Marcone

    I have been working on Mindfulness for about 3 months now. When you have panic disorder it seems it doesn't help that much. I use the phrase "Be still and know that I am God" I use mindfulness when I am knitting also. So what am I doing wrong? I concentrate on breathing first then the Be Still phrase and do it 5 times omitting a word each time. Any other suggestions?

    1. Heather

      Try the "Calm" app or the "Headspace" app. They have nice guided meditations!

    2. Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor

      Hi, Theresa. Dr. Michels provided this feedback in response to your question: "These are good strategies. You might consider using a 'counting breaths' strategy, too, where inhale is 1, exhale is 2, inhale is 3, exhale is 4….up to 10….then start again. If you lose your place, start at 1 again. Professional guidance to gain other strategies to manage panic attacks in the heat of the moment may be helpful to calm the system more extensively first before utilizing mindfulness for further calming." Find a doctor: https://marshfieldclinic.org/doctors

      Thank you for reading Shine365 -Kirstie

      1. Theresa Marcone

        I do have a psychiatrist here in Muskego and I was seeing a counselor for a while. I am on meds for the panic disorder, but I lost my dog in Sept. still grieving. Bad time of the year for me. Lost my husband this time of year and 2 children. When I lived in
        Arbor Vitae I was seeing Dr. Vaughn. I hate it when this anxiety returns because I was OK for a long time. Oh Well, thanks for the answer.

      2. Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor

        So sorry for your losses, Theresa. -Kirstie

  2. Pat McCarthy

    I would be interested in everyday mindfulness, possibly a half day class during the day hours.

    1. Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor

      Thank you for the feedback, Pam. I will share and let you know if I hear of any similar events. -Kirstie

  3. Gail LaFontaine

    I am hoping for Mindful Meditation Classes in the near future at the clinic to help with my sleep problems.

    1. Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor

      Thanks for the suggestion, Gail. We've held "Everyday Mindfulness" all-day events in the past. I will see if I can find any information for you on similar upcoming events. -Kirstie

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