The symptoms of anxiety and depression can feel like a whirlwind. One day, you may wake up to discover that your symptoms have taken over your life. Even completing daily activities can feel overwhelming.
What if we told you that you could “stop” the rush of feelings and emotions and just stay in the present moment? That you could approach each new day with a calm, clear head? What if we told you that you could even prevent the progression of anxiety or depression?
You may not be able to do all of these things tomorrow, but we can help to guide you on a path toward this peaceful mindset. This path is called “mindfulness.” It’s not just a buzzword – mindfulness has gained fast popularity for a reason. Using mindfulness and meditation practices can help improve overall mental health and give you the tools to live a more peaceful and present life.
What Is “Mindfulness?”
Mindfulness is simply the state of being present where you are. That’s it! It is a state of recognizing what is going on around you and inside you. When you stay in the present, you stay out of the past (which can lead to depression) and out of the future (which can lead to anxiety.)
In a world with many distractions and responsibilities, achieving mindfulness is easier said than done. But with patience and practice, you can begin to live a more mindful life.
How Mindfulness Benefits Mental Health
Mindfulness provides mental health help in many ways:
When you spend more time in the present, you can identify what is happening in your body. Are you starting to feel anxious? Do you notice that your heart is beating fast? Are you surrounded by “triggers?” Mindfulness helps you recognize these signs and symptoms before they can take over.
This awareness is especially poignant for people living with addiction. Research published in JAMA Psychiatry detailed a study on people who participated in a mindfulness program to treat addiction. The results were very positive:
“Six months following the intervention, the mindfulness-based program and the standard relapse-prevention program were both more successful at reducing relapse than the 12-step program. One year later, the mindfulness-based program proved better than the other two in reducing drinking and drug use.”
When your mind detects a threat, it goes into a primal “fight, flight or freeze” mode. Your heart rate increases, you may start to sweat, and suddenly you feel the need to run away or become aggressive. You get caught in your own head and seemingly lose control of bodily functions.
Mindfulness can help you regain that control. When you meditate to achieve mindfulness, you begin to slow your breathing. Slow, deep breathing sends a signal to your brain that says, “I’m safe. I’m calm. There is nothing threatening me right now.” When your brain receives that message, it calms the rest of your body. Your heart rate drops to a normal rate and you stop shaking. The tasks ahead of you seem easier to accomplish. With a clear head, you can go about your day.
Will meditation really make you more productive? For the answer, a study conducted at H.A. Montgomery Company concluded that employees who participated in a program that included regular Transcendental Meditation increased their productivity 120%!
Depression or addiction may not visit your door just once. Many people with mental health issues experience relapses – periods of time in which the symptoms come back and cause a subsequent depressive episode. Mindfulness can help to prevent these symptoms from coming back and affecting your life.
Researchers at the University of Colorado looked at a group of pregnant women who were likely to experience a relapse due to postpartum depression. Meditation helped to reduce the relapse rate by 12%.
Start Practicing Mindfulness Today
Mindfulness can be achieved in many ways. learning to meditate may seem difficult or even impossible to do. You may be reading this and saying to yourself I have tried to mediate and it just doesn’t work for me. However, meditation is easier than it looks – even if you cannot seem to quiet your mind. Guided meditations, musical meditations, and other exercises can help you achieve mindfulness without the struggle of trying to shutting down your thoughts.
Let’s find the best meditation program for you. Request an appointment on our website today to start on your mindfulness journey.