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Practicing mindfulness can actually help ease physical pain, finds new study

Lauren Clark
Contributor
A new study has discovered that mindfulness can help ease physical pain [Image: Getty]

It is better known as way to calm a busy mind struggling to juggle the pressures of modern life - but a new study has discovered that mindfulness could also help ease physical pain.

Researchers at the universities of Yale, Columbia, and Dartmouth investigated whether there were additional benefits to the practice.

Mindfulness involves the ability to be present in the moment, as well as having an awareness and acceptance of a situation without giving judgment.

Previously it has been found that it can help conditions such as anxiety and depression - and now scientists have discovered unexpected new perks, according to Science Daily.

READ MORE: Melanie C reveals 'relief' after depression diagnosis with 'weight lifted' off her shoulders

Indeed, its ability to soothe physical pain was so marked, the researchers found, that when participants in a study were subjected to hot heat on their forearm, their brain reacted as though it was a normal temperature.

"It's as if the brain was responding to warm temperature, not very high heat," said Hedy Kober, associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at Yale.

The study, which was published in the journal Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience, also discovered that it could help people deal with negative emotions.

Researchers set out to find out whether people with no formal training in mindfulness could benefit from just a 20-minute brief introduction to the practice.

READ MORE: Happiness declines in our 30s but rises again to peak aged 82, according to a neuroscientist

They used brain imaging scans to find out that it was able to reduce brain activity associated with pain and negative emotions.

Changes didn’t occur in the prefrontal cortex - which is to do with decision making - meaning that the responses weren’t to do with willpower.

"The ability to stay in the moment when experiencing pain or negative emotions suggests there may be clinical benefits to mindfulness practice in chronic conditions as well - even without long meditation practice," Kober added.

It comes as it was revealed that research has found mental health benefits to going for a lunchtime stroll.

READ MORE: We should all walk during our lunch breaks, experts say

Scientists have discovered that getting out and about at midday positively affects concentration and overall work enjoyment in the afternoon.

One recent study of 51 office workers found that every single person enjoyed their afternoons more if they’d stretched their legs outside at lunch time.

Walking at any pace lowers early death risk, so it’s quite easy to see the physical benefits of a quick stroll, but there are a number of mental health perks too.

“It’s a great way to control stress. If you find your job stressful, removing yourself from that situation, even for a short time, can be hugely beneficial.” explained psychotherapist Christine Elvin to Yahoo Style UK.

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