How Mindfulness Can Improve Your Mental Health

How Mindfulness Can Improve Your Mental Health
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A Little Background on Mindfulness

Mindfulness is another buzzword that you may see around the internet or preached by your yogi friends. Mindfulness means being aware or paying attention. You can be mindful of your breathing, feeling your lungs inflate as you inhale and deflate as you exhale. Feel the air moving in your nose and into your body. Other things you can be mindful of are your environment, reactions in your body, other people, or things that stimulate your five senses. Mindfulness can help you improve your mental health by paying attention to your body and noticing things that make you anxious or depressed as well as things that make you feel better. 

Mindfulness in Practice

Imagine you’re just starting your day, waking up, getting out of bed, and getting yourself to the coffee machine. As you leave the house, you start to get anxious – you do not know how it started but it is very unsettling. While at work you start to stress about deadlines and the quality of your work. Finally grabbing some groceries before heading home you have thoughts of paperwork or assignments that you forgot needed to get done, which escalates you into a panic. The next thing you know, you are having a panic attack in a parking lot. Someone who is struggling with their anxiety may find themselves stuck in a pattern like this. Implementing mindfulness throughout the day can help curb the anxiety and increase awareness. 

Upon reflecting with mindfulness, you notice that the commute to work stresses you out in the morning, so you decide to try a different way to get to work. You also recognize that too much coffee can make you feel jittery and anxious, so you cut back how much you drink. Finally, you notice that thinking about work when you leave is not helpful for you, so you find other things to think about or look forward to. These are all mindful tactics that can help with reducing anxiety, noticing what provokes your anxiety and then making a change. I previously made a blog about anxiety and your body, using information from that blog could help you recognize anxiety. From that point you could also come up with some of your own self-care remedies. 

Other Applications of Mindfulness

In a world of distractions like social media notifications, texts, emails, and bright colorful screens it is often difficult to slow down. In fact, it can be easy to get caught up in a storm with many different notifications demanding attention and causing anxiety. Just think about the last time you were frustrated because someone did not text back fast enough. 

Catching yourself, taking a minute, slowing down, they are all easier said than done, but they do get better with practice. One application of mindfulness you can try to get started is to stop your thoughts, take a deep breath, move around, and then think about your thoughts. If you have a particular anxiety or sadness provoking thought, try using the 5 Ws on it (who, what, when, where, and why), and see what you can learn about yourself. Another way to think about mindfulness and where to apply it is “here and now”. When you recognize your thoughts racing, try to find something in the present moment, and think about it or interact with it. For example, you may be stressed about tomorrow but right now you see a beautiful sunset. Just focus on paying attention to it.

Mindfulness is simply paying attention to things and understanding them. The more you practice it the easier it comes to you. By learning more about yourself you can learn how to take better care of your mental health.

About the Author

John Loh is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate at Finding Peace Counseling Center in The Woodlands, TX. John’s Specialties includes men’s Issues, anxiety disorders, and relationship issues, and he works with individuals, couples, and families.  For more information on mindfulness or any related issues, contact Finding Peace Counseling Center today by calling 832-306-2969 or email [email protected] for more information. You can also schedule an appointment now by visiting the Finding Peace Counseling Center website.

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