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What is Mindfulness and Why Should I Practice It?

We live in a busy world. A world in which we are always preparing for the next hour, next day and even the next week, rather than living in the present moment. If you find yourself overwhelmed and never living in the moment, you may want to try practicing mindfulness. 

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. It allows the mind to be fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, and to the space you’re moving through. 

Mindfulness and meditation are interrelated, but they are not the same. Meditation is a temporary state of mind that vanishes for the rest of the day once you are done meditating. Whereas mindfulness is a way of living in which you are able to step back and be in the present moment in any situation.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Practicing mindfulness has many scientifically proven benefits, including:

Improves mood

The practice of mindfulness has become a popular part of mental health treatment, as research demonstrates that mindfulness helps reduce anxiety and depression. Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, and also one of the most tenacious. An estimated 80% of people who experience a major depressive episode may relapse. However, studies show that practicing mindfulness may help prevent a relapse, as mindfulness can help individuals recognize what’s happening and allow them to engage and respond to it differently.

Reduces stress

The regular practice of mindfulness promotes better stress management and work-life balance, as well as long-term mental and physical health. When you practice mindfulness, it often leads to less intense responses to stress and anxiety. This has many health benefits, such as lowering your blood pressure and strengthening your immune system.

Improves brain functions

Research shows that practicing mindfulness may contribute to improved cognitive performances such as attention, memory, and concentration. The hippocampus, the area of the brain that helps your memory and learning, can become thicker after practicing mindfulness.

Common mindfulness techniques

Mindful breathing – The most basic way to practice mindful breathing is to simply focus on the inhale and exhale of every breath you take. You can do this while standing, but ideally, you should be sitting or even lying down in a comfortable position. Spend a few minutes focusing your awareness on the movement of your thoughts and your breath in and out.

Mindful wakeup – As soon as you wake up, sit on your bed or a chair in a relaxed position. Close your eyes and connect with the sensations of your seated body. Take three long, deep, nourishing breaths. Ask yourself: “What is my intention for today?”

Mindful eating – This exercise involves eating very slowly and doing it mindfully so that we can turn eating into a far richer experience. Try taking deep breaths before eating and always listen to your body. If you are hungry, eat. If you feel full, stop eating.

Mindful workout – Biking, running, or lifting weights, whatever workout you love to do, can be a great mindfulness practice. Not only are you getting your blood pumping, but you are also shifting your mindset from feeling busy and distracted to feeling strong and capable.

As you can see, there are numerous benefits to practicing mindfulness and many different techniques one can practice. The effects of mindfulness tend to be dose-related, meaning the more you do, the more effect it usually has. 

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Our providers at Mile High Psychiatry want to help you become the best version of yourself. We do this through a combination of psychotherapy and cognitive tools. To learn more about our process or to request an appointment, contact us today.

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