Do you ever stop what you are doing, regardless of how busy you are so that you can pay deliberate attention to what is happening around you at that particular point in time? Probably not as much as you should!
Sometimes we get so engrossed in what we are doing, and what needs to be done next, that we don’t think about the ‘right here and now.’
Meanwhile, if you are lucky enough to get a quiet moment to yourself, and yes, they are probably rare moments, what are your thoughts? Are they positive ones or negative?
If you are someone that tends to dwell on past mistakes and worry about the future, it’s time to stop. This cycle of being stuck in the past and then worrying about the future can stop you from enjoying the present! This negative thought cycle can take a toll on your emotional and mental health.
One of the ways to boost your mental health is through practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is not a new concept. Different cultures have been practicing mindfulness techniques for thousands of years.
The practice of focusing our attention on what is currently happening around us and how we are feeling at the moment is beneficial to our entire well-being.
Mindfulness Practices Can Help Boost Our Mental Health
Mindfulness is now being used as a tool to help people cope with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Here’s how practicing mindfulness can help to improve your mental health:
Reduces Stress and Tension
Stress will always be part of our lives. Our body instinctively reacts to stress. Practicing mindfulness allows us to respond to stress less intensely. Studies have shown that mindfulness can help us regulate our emotions. As we focus on the present, we become better at coping with stressful situations as we acknowledge the things we cannot control.
By being mindful of our present situation, we allow focus on what is more important. That is to address the stressful situation rather than simply reacting to it.
Mindfulness also allows us to release the tension in our bodies. When we are in a stressful situation, our muscles tense up, causing headaches, stiff necks, and pain in the shoulders. Being aware of the present and letting go of any worries relaxes our mind and body.
Reduces Anxiety Levels
Mindfulness is effective in overcoming the moody blues. Stress and anxiety also have an impact on our sleep. Being deprived of sleep affects our mood, productivity, and of course, our body’s health.
Several studies show that good sleep can help lower the risk of developing depression and help in regulating depressive symptoms such as anxiety. The root of most of our anxieties and worries has to do with the things we have little or no control over.
Whether we think about plans for the future or wrong decisions made in the past, mindfulness teaches us to shift our focus to the present. It allows us to truly feel and accept how we are currently feeling without any judgment. This helps us develop self-compassion too.
Helps with Recovery from Illness
Being mindful has proven to be an effective way to help manage pain. While mindfulness will not necessarily alleviate the symptoms, it has been shown to help patients deal with the stress of treatments and recover more quickly.
During a mindfulness therapy trial, cancer patients reported fewer symptoms of stress through the course of their medication. Participants also noted that mindfulness helped them enhance their spirituality and deal better with post-traumatic symptoms related to their treatment.
A separate study showed that cancer patients who utilized mindfulness decreased their tendencies to worry during their treatment. Patients also said it resulted in receiving less pain medication, as their pain seemed to be less acute.
Survivors of chronic illnesses also said that mindfulness greatly influenced their recovery. Practicing mindfulness lowered their stress and anxiety and ultimately helped them to adopt a more positive mindset
Improves Holistic Wellness
Mindfulness can be used to manage unwanted behaviors, such as smoking or overeating. Both habits are known to increase a person’s risk of developing life-threatening diseases. Mindfulness allows us to let go of our unhealthy habits by acknowledging how we are feeling at any given moment. One study showed that people who practiced mindfulness had lower incidences of smoking, became more physically active, and achieved a healthier mass index.
Mindfulness is one of the easiest and simplest ways to achieve better overall wellbeing. If you want to give your mindfulness training an added boost, you can incorporate meditation or yoga into your practice.