As we near the end of the year and begin preparing for a new one, many of us have already begun thinking about ways we want to change our lives for the better—at work, at home, with friends, with family, for ourselves, the list goes on. Whether you’re looking to establish more work-life balance, achieve better nutrition, or mitigate the effects of stress in your life, mindfulness is your secret weapon. And health coaches can help you add this tool to your arsenal.
Mindfulness is a massively important tool towards achieving better holistic health. Not only have researchers observed positive mental health outcomes as a result of mindfulness—like reductions in the symptoms related to anxiety or depression—but it’s also shown to improve blood pressure, sleep hygiene and even support pain management.
Like most health habits, mindfulness works like a muscle and needs to be strengthened in order for it to be effective. This is precisely where health coaches come in. In today’s blog, we’re unpacking the meaning of mindfulness, discussing the many ways health coaches help make this skill a habit, and exploring some of the data surrounding why mindfulness (and health coaching) are so effective towards achieving optimal health.
What is mindfulness?
According to the American Psychological Association, mindfulness is, “awareness of one’s internal states and surroundings.” It’s a mental state or skill that encourages individuals to observe their thoughts, emotions, and sensations without judgment or reaction. At its core, mindfulness is the practice of experiencing the present moment, fully, and without interruption. It’s not suppressing thought. It’s not clearing your mind. It’s noticing; feeling; experiencing.
Though meditation incorporates mindfulness, it isn’t the only way to achieve this state of being. Mindfulness can be practiced while cooking, while taking a walk, or during a conversation, helping us experience these moments more fully. On the same note, the goal of mindfulness isn’t always to achieve relaxation, but rather to improve our self-awareness and help catalyze better overall wellbeing by managing our present state more effectively.
Mindfulness has already shown impressive impacts on overall health and wellbeing, according to the latest data. Not only has it been observed to improve overall health and wellbeing, it’s actually been shown to affect the way our brains work. EEG research has demonstrated mindfulness alters the ways our brains process information coming in through the senses, improving attention, and the ways our brains direct attention, improving our focus. What’s more, mindfulness has also been shown to interrupt the brain degradation process that often happens with age.
What tools do health coaches use to help clients incorporate mindfulness?
As we always say, health coaches make habits happen. Coaches help clients identify the moments in time throughout their day where clients can benefit from more mindfulness or have the opportunity to begin practicing this gamechanging technique. Maybe it’s taking stock of their day-to-day habits to understand if there’s room for a 30-minute mindfulness walk in the morning. Or maybe it’s finding smaller moments throughout the day where they’re experiencing greater stress and can make space for a 5-minute mindfulness break. That might look like running through a visualization while at their desk at work for a few minutes, or running through some breathing exercises while doing the laundry.
What’s more, health coaches help clients understand, practice and incorporate mindfulness tools, like body scans, breathing techniques, and visualizations to help them build this ever-important skill. Regular health coaching sessions mean clients have the space to troubleshoot which mindfulness tools really work for them, ask questions, share their wins, and track their overall progress towards benefitting from this day-to-day tool. It’s through these regular, personalized sessions that clients are truly able to cultivate mindfulness as a long-term tool and achieve better results.
What does the latest data suggest about health coaching and mindfulness?
Health coaching has already been shown to improve overall health and wellbeing, in part, due to mindfulness techniques incorporated through ongoing sessions. We’ve compiled a swath of the latest data through our growing library of Deep Dives, showcasing the latest results. For example, a 2023 study demonstrated health coaching has significant effects on reducing the symptoms of anxiety (36%) and depression (26%). Anecdotally, and along the same lines, we’ve observed the positive impact health coaching can have on helping clients achieve better health through our Industry Partnerships.
Another study on health coaching which compared motivational interviewing and mindfulness-based phone interventions to usual care denoted reductions in barriers to medication adherence (something we’re also observing firsthand).
For employees, mindfulness can be a seriously helpful tool to combat burnout (and, as research within our Employee Health Deep Dive has shown, subsequently reduce absenteeism and improve productivity). We’re exploring these opportunities with employers as we head into the new year and are excited to observe firsthand results in the months ahead.
If you’re interested in learning more about how we partner with employers to deliver health coaching services (and better health outcomes!), contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.