Mental Health Benefits of Mindfulness Practice

    Mental Health Benefits of Mindfulness Practice

    The future of treatment for mental health is integrative. Experts have recently begun embracing a more holistic approach to treating psychological health. In particular, much attention is on the practice of mindfulness. Not only has it proven to be a cost-effective and accessible strategy for coping with stress, but it acts as an excellent tool for those with substance abuse disorder, depression, and anxiety. The potential for mindfulness as a therapeutic tool is boundless, and certainly deserves attention.

    What Is Mindfulness?

    Mindfulness is the practice of embracing the present moment, becoming totally aware of bodily sensations, and avoiding any and all interpretations of thoughts and feelings. In this practice, you breathe as you disconnect from thoughts that do not serve you. When you notice your mind wandering, being mindful means refocusing on your breath. 

    While measuring and even describing the practice of “being mindful’ is difficult, scientists base their definition on five facets:

    1. Observing
    2. Describing
    3. Acting with Awareness
    4. Non-judging of Inner Experience
    5. Non-reactivity to Inner Experience

    Observing is essential to being mindful in the moment. When you observe, you bring attention to the sensations and stimulation that surround you, all while embracing inner thoughts. What are you present with? What do you feel? What is on your mind? By bringing awareness to your present state of being, and letting your thoughts flow in and out of your mind freely, you may develop your mindfulness practice.

    Psychological Benefits of Mindfulness Practice

    The scientific community has been especially welcoming of integrative techniques for treating psychological health. Holistic therapeutic options like meditation and mindfulness practices have been spectacular strides in treating mental health. 

    Mindfulness practices stemming from Buddhist traditions have demonstrated promise as mental health treatment. Research shows how mindfulness-based therapies can treat anxiety symptoms associated with lacking present-moment awareness and acceptance. The psychotherapeutic potential of mindfulness-practice has also been demonstrated in recovering addicts. A study investigated the benefit of mindfulness-based yogic breathing among smokers in an abstinent period, finding that mindfulness-breathing reduced smoking behavior by more than two-fold and reduced short-term cravings. 

    A final study investigated whether “savoring,” a facet of mindfulness, during marijuana use was related to having marijuana use disorder. Results suggested that savoring the cannabis high was linked to having fewer substance use problems. In other words, a mindfulness-intervention holds tremendous potential as a protective measure in engaging with marijuana safely.

    The Future

    The future of health aims to embrace the mind-body connection. To do this, many professionals in the psychology community promote the benefits of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness for mental health. Such holistic interventions could be incorporated into your life simply, whether it be penciling in a 15-minute yoga flow several days a week or practicing mindfulness-meditation for five minutes every morning. Best of all, a mindfulness practice is accessible anywhere, any time.

    Mindfulness has been linked to overall positive emotional well-being and happiness, and it’s for a reason. The practice of mindfulness is for everyone. So, why not make 2021 your year to nourish your psyche the way it deserves? Be mindful, for you.

    Photo by Simon Migaj

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    • Laura is a passionate writer, and especially enjoys writing about the latest in science and mental health. She is on track to becoming a certified yoga instructor, currently leading meditation classes at a local nursing home. In addition to writing for New Theory Magazine, Laura works in an elementary school with autistic students as an ABA Aide. She hopes to one day pursue a PhD in clinical psychology so she may work towards bridging the gap between yoga therapy and psychological treatment.

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