Mindfulness is a buzzword these days and a great fix for various mental health issues. According to Mindful.org and the Centre for Mindfulness Studies in Toronto, the research is strong for mindfulness’s positive impact in certain mental health areas, including stress reduction, emotion and attention regulation, reduced rumination, for reducing mild to moderate depression and anxiety, and preventing depressive relapse. There’s also some early evidence that it can be advantageous for people struggling with addictions and appears to be particularly promising for smoking cessation. And when suffering causes someone to “have a fixed and negative view of themselves … or their circumstances,” mindfulness can help give them access to a different perspective, helps them open to other possibilities, and enhances resilience and their capacity to tolerate distress. For this blog post, I am focusing on the practice of mindfulness and its potential benefits to your mental health.
What is mindfulness?
Practicing mindfulness means you are aware and focused on a task at hand in the moment. You are not operating on auto-pilot. You are engaged healthily with something that you are doing in the present moment. You are aware of what is around you, and you engage in the task with your emotions. You could wash dishes and really pay attention to the suds and how clean the dish is becoming and how relaxed you feel. You could be showering while focusing on exfoliating your skin and how good this feels. You could be reading a story to a child and not letting your mind wander to other tasks, which brings you joy in the moment. In the moment with feeling and emotion, you are present, and you process these emotions with a clear mind.
What are some mental health issues that mindfulness could benefit from?
When we experience too much stress, it can cause depression, anxiety, and illness. Some of the emotions we can control are judgment, anger, frustration, sadness, and fear. When you can’t regulate emotions, you lose control, are prone to outburst, feel stress and unease. That is when mindfulness can benefit you, so keep reading.
How can I benefit from mindfulness practices for mental health?
By learning to relax and calm your mind and body, you learn to step back and observe before engaging in unhealthy responses. You learn not to react, allowing room for positive choices. We learn through mindfulness to self-regulate our emotional responses and be in the moment. You strengthen your ability to cope, and the “power of your mind” belongs to you. You learn to trust yourself and be an important participant in your own life.
What mindfulness practices can help deal with stress?
You can practice mindfulness by cultivating your relationship to your five senses – touch, smell, hearing, taste, and sight. You remain focused, with an awareness of each of your five senses. This exercise teaches you the power of remaining in the moment. You allow the “noise” around you to go on, and you learn to "be" in space with yourself. We are so busy doing that to “just be” can require practice.
You might also harness your power of creativity through various mindfulness and meditation practices.
Each month, Mindful Way Coaching provides various mindfulness sessions and opportunities to help you forge positive mental health. Join us and learn more HERE.