“Dennis Loos,” I sometimes find myself saying, “you have to take a moment to orient yourself. To smell the roses.” Our lives, and all it entails, can be draining. Overthinking, overly-stressful situations, and out-of-the-blue occurrences that jeopardize our mental health seem to come at us at a 100 miles an hour. It seems that we can’t find any sort of relief in such a fast-paced world.
Nevertheless, there is a surefire way of regaining relaxation and a heightened feeling of the self. It can very easily be achieved by following a set of practices that restore our ability of putting our emotional state back in sync. Here we are going to delve into the world of mindfulness, and why it is a sound relaxation method you should incorporate into your daily habits.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that involves achieving a higher sense of self-awareness. This is done by actively receiving feedback from what you feel and experience at the very same moment in which you are engaging in the practice, disregarding any type of judgment or analyzed interpretation of what’s happening.
Most mindfulness methods involve guided imagery, breathing methods and several other practices performed with the sole intention of relaxing both the mind and body, in order to relieve stress.
The use of mindfulness can divert the attention away from negative thinking patterns, helping you be more connected with your surroundings.
Advantages of Practicing Mindfulness
The practice of mindfulness brings to the table several advantages, both for the mental health, and in consequence, for the physical health as well.
Augmented emotional regulation
By becoming much better at managing emotions and identifying your feelings, you’ll have a more balanced lifestyle — making you more efficient. You can control your emotional outputs, meaning that you can suppress negative feelings, or enhance experiences when facing positive situations. This is called emotional regulation, and it gets better with the continued practice of mindfulness.
People that have mental health issues like Borderline Personality Disorders are bound to find the value from the practice of mindfulness.
Reduced anxiety and stress
Chronic stress really takes a toll on the body and gradually wears it out. It is no wonder why people that lead stressful and unhappy lives tend to age faster, and have more physical complications than those that don’t.
If you want to get the most out of your mindfulness ritual, you should go for a mindfulness-based stress reduction method, also known as MBSR. It is a program specifically devised to treat stress, as it incorporates yoga and diverse tools. It helps you address feelings, thoughts, and change negative behaviors in a productive way.
Your memory will be sharper
Mindfulness boosts memory. You can forget about forgetting where your car keys are at, about not remembering your wedding anniversary, or the last three items on your shopping list. Your short-term and long-term memory improvements will pay you dividends. In fact, it is also believed that the hippocampus gets enlarged with the practice of mindfulness.
Mindfulness also helps with sustained attention, cognitive flexibility, and others
If mindfulness already hadn’t enough perks on its own, sustained attention – being able to hold your focus of attention for a given amount of time; cognitive flexibility -the skill to be able to sort out external distractions while focusing on something; and cognitive inhibition – suppressing invading thoughts are all assuaged with mindfulness.
Mindfulness improves overall mental health
Problems such as addictions, depression, eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, interpersonal conflicts, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, and other anxiety disorders can all be eased with the employment of mindfulness techniques.
Mindfulness helps at improving our overall well-being
With the daily execution of mindfulness techniques you also improve your capacity of leading a more satisfying life, as your outlook is bound to change too. Being in a mindful state makes it better to enjoy the small pleasures of life— you become more present in the moment in which things happen. You won’t dwell so much on past regrets or concerns about the future, but rather just enjoy the present.
In addition, you will also become much more adept at facing adversity. This newfound resilience, and revamped capability of savoring the now has shown, through various studies, to have substantial benefits on your self-esteem. As a perk, your interpersonal relationships will also improve.
Mindfulness boosts physical health
As previously declared, mindfulness also helps in bettering general physical health. Hence, mindfulness results in a holistic approach that succeeds at ameliorating several aspects of your life.
Physical benefit include:
Lower blood pressure
- Better heart health
- Less stress
- Fewer chronic pain
- Better overall digestive system functioning
- Improved sleep
Mindfulness Exercises and Tips
Meditation while sitting
Sit on the ground with your legs bent, while positioning your feet on the ground, and your hands on your thighs. Try your best to sit up straight. Focus on practicing nasal breathing, and how your breath moves in and out of your lungs. In any case any intrusive thoughts or physical feelings manifest, let them in, and try to regain focus once again on your breath.
Bodily scan meditation
As you lay on your back, extend your legs, and have your arms by your side, with your palms facing upwards. Try to experience every single part of your body as you do so. Focus on being aware of any feelings you may be experiencing.
Meditation while walking
Go for a walk at a place where you can do so comfortably. Try to increase your body awareness as you stroll, focusing on keeping your balance. Once you reach the bounds, turn around, and keep walking while being conscious of what your body is experiencing.
And here are some extra tips…
- Embrace the moment as much as you can
- Gain full acceptance of your sense of self
- Breathing is key!
- Focus is your priority
How Often Should I Practice Mindfulness?
This solely depends on your availability and willingness. You should consider how engaged you are in an activity, and if it proves to be beneficial for you to go into “the zone”. As a rule of thumb, depending on what mindfulness program you are following, you should aim for daily mindfulness sessions, for a lapse of six months in order to evaluate any results. Once you become attuned with the discipline, try to find a frequency that works for you.
When to Be Careful with Mindfulness
If you have some form of PTSD, you should be careful with the use of mindfulness, as a very small percentage of practitioners experience traumatic feelings, and emotional numbness as side effects. Provided this is your case, you should consider talking to a therapist if you want to try this.
Incorporate Mindfulness into Your Daily Life
Incorporating mindfulness as a daily habit into your life comes with many benefits — both psychological and physical well-being to better relationships with others. Moreover, you’ll also learn how to live in the moment, and your conceptions of it will augment. In conclusion, mindfulness is a habit that is likely to make your life better all around.