Jessica Dubin, LCSW, knows that mindfulness can improve her patients’ overall mental health. To understand how the practice can help you, first understand what it is and what it does.
What is mindfulness?
So maybe you’ve heard the term “mindfulness” tossed around here and there as a buzzword throughout the latest lifestyle culture, but what does it mean? What’s all the hype about?
First thing’s first: It’s important to understand that mindfulness is not a singular definition. It’s a toolbox of several therapeutic practices that have multiple positive outcomes, like being more “in the moment,” becoming more aware of your emotions and thoughts, and becoming more intentional in your everyday life.
When you become more mindful in everything you do, you develop a deeper awareness of your thoughts and actions. Essentially, mindfulness is the opposite of being on auto-pilot: You are present in the moment, and practicing is good for the mind, soul, and your overall life.
Sounds like everyone’s goal in life, right? But how does it work? And how could it benefit someone struggling with mental health?
How can mindfulness be used to manage mental health?
Multiple studies have proven there is a reason for all the hype.
According to APA.org, the mindfulness has shown the following benefits for those who practice regularly:
· Reduction of continuous, negative thoughts: Do you ever experience a bad thought that repeats itself over and over for no reason? Also known as rumination, this cycle of thoughts can be harmful to your mental health. Since mindfulness is all about being in the “now” and not disengaging with distractions and worries about “what could happen”, it can help decrease these thoughts.
· Reduction of stress and anxiety: There are numerous studies that show that mindfulness reduces stress, which can lead to anxiety and depression. The studies consistently prove that mindfulness meditation increases positive thoughts and appreciation for life and decreases negativity.
· Improvement of focus: Since the practice’s goal is to zero in on what you’re doing in that moment, it makes sense that it improves your overall focus in other areas of your life. Studies have shown that those who practice are able to suppress distracting surroundings when they’re doing something else.
· Decrease of emotion reactiveness: Have you ever seen and upsetting photo or movie, or replayed an unpleasant memory in your head and couldn’t stop? Mindfulness may be able to help you cope. Research has proven those who practice are more able to disengage from these thoughts and focus on what they’re doing.
· Improvement in relationships with others: Mindfulness helps you pay more attention to whatever you’re doing, navigate your emotions, increase your gratitude, and understand your thoughts and emotions better. All these benefits can improve your relationships with a significant other, friends, family or co-workers in multiple ways.
· Increases understanding of self: As you practice, you get to know yourself by understanding your thoughts, feelings and values. While your thoughts are not who you are, you can analyze them to understand what’s really important to you in life and what your values are.
The practice of mindfulness
Mindfulness is a meditation practice. Before you begin, find a comfortable area to sit down. You don’t need to buy anything or do anything special to set up, but it might be best to find a quiet spot to sit to avoid distractions from the outside world.
Mindfulness meditation seems simple. You are sitting down and focusing solely on breathing. But despite the simplicity of the practice, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
It’s completely natural for our minds to wander while doing simple tasks, and even difficult to maintain focused on one thing. That’s where the challenge comes into the practice.
Work with a psychotherapist to get the most out of your mindfulness practice
The practice of mindfulness can be challenging but rewarding. To understand more of how it works, what techniques you need to do and why it’s so important, work with a professional who can help you navigate your mental health journey.
Jessica Dubin, LCSW, is based in Chicago and offers both telehealth and in-person sessions. Her approach to therapy incorporates cognitive therapy and mindfulness, and her mission is to help patients understand their true selves, so they can seek healing and live a more positive, full life.
To learn more about Jessica Dubin, LCSW, visit her website here.