What is mindfulness and what role does it play in our mental health?
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present and aware of your thoughts and feelings and accepting how you are in the moment without any judgement. People have been practicing mindfulness for thousands of years, with its roots tracing back to religious and secular traditions in the East. Today, many psychotherapists utilize the practice with their clients because of its widely regarded benefits and accessibility. Whether you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns, mindfulness training could support and enhance your treatment.
What are some of the benefits from mindfulness? According to the American Psychological Association, research has shown that mindfulness can:
- Reduce depressive symptoms
- Boost working memory
- Reduce rumination (the focus of attention on one’s distress)
- Increase ability to focus attention
- Decrease emotional reactivity (that is, the ability to disengage from things that can be emotionally upsetting)
- Better responses to stress and negative situations
- Improve relationship satisfaction by responding well to relationship stressors and helping develop skills in communicating one’s emotions
- Increase immune functioning
How do you practice mindfulness?
Some mindfulness-based interventions might involve a prompt such as, “Slowly scan your entire body starting with your toes, and notice any sensations. Can you allow and accept this feeling and stay in touch with it, without reacting to it?” Observing thoughts and sensations in the body in an objective manner like this can help bring attention to difficult emotions while avoiding self-judgement. Mindfulness can occur within a meditation session or throughout the day while eating, driving, or exercising.
Many of our psychotherapists at Insight Wellness Center believe in the benefits of mindfulness and incorporate the practice into their therapy sessions. If mindfulness-based interventions sound right for you in your mental health journey, please call (925) 216-3510 and we can match you with one of our therapists.
Grace Liestman Psychotherapy Intern at Insight Wellness Center