Mindfulness Definition: How It Can Enhance Your Life

Medically reviewed by Arianna Williams, LPC, CCTP
Updated February 21, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Mindfulness and self-care can often benefit physical, mental, and emotional well-being. These practices can help individuals relax and stay grounded while promoting healthy living standards that can leave you feeling energized and ready to tackle the situations you face. 

Many people can benefit from self-care and mindfulness for daily functioning. However, some individuals might neglect their self-care when work, personal hardships, or social responsibilities arise. You might notice that your needs become a second priority to someone else. Mindfulness is one way to value yourself while ensuring you have enough energy to care for others.

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What is mindfulness? 

Mindfulness is a concept with roots in Buddhist ideology. However, modern society often uses it as a form of wellness and self-care for personal fulfillment. Mindfulness can be spiritual, secular, religious, therapeutic, scientific, and available in many other forms. When you practice mindfulness, you can care for your emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. 

Physical self-care can involve activity and a healthy diet, while mental and emotional self-care might include mindful meditation or journaling. Each person's approach can vary depending on individual needs. In addition, the benefits you receive from mindfulness may vary. Some people find that mindfulness helps them connect with their spiritual beliefs, while others find it helps them focus on exercise or be present at work. Use mindfulness in a way that makes sense to you. 

How mindfulness may benefit your life 

Several benefits and lessons can be gained from practicing mindfulness, including the following. 

Understanding barriers to self-care 

Many people find it challenging to take the time for self-care, citing anxiety, stress, lack of motivation, and knowledge of how to care for themselves as barriers.

Trying to carve out time for yourself can be overwhelming when everyday life creates obstacles that make it difficult to practice self-care. While these factors can be reasonable, there are practical methods that may help you overcome them and start making self-care a part of your schedule. 

Practicing mindfulness can pull you into a mindset that reminds you of your values and gives you a calming moment to complete tasks. In addition, educating yourself about why self-care is beneficial, identifying activities that bring you joy, and setting manageable goals are a few ways mindfulness may help you break down barriers to your self-compassion. 

Identifying your needs and establishing boundaries

Anyone may use mindfulness, and learning to practice it is one way to benefit your mental health. Before starting, it can be valuable to identify your needs and boundaries surrounding these topics. This process can involve exploring what your body, mind, and spirit require to feel balanced, fulfilled, and healthy. It can also include learning how to communicate these needs with the people you interact with effectively.
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Starting a routine focused on you

Creating a self-care or mindfulness routine can be one way to start taking positive steps in improving your health and well-being. You can reap the rewards of controlling your body's natural rhythms by making positive changes, such as going to bed early, eating healthy meals, and reserving a few moments each day for yourself.

When you partake in these activities, using mindfulness to complete them may help you further cement them in your schedule. For example, practicing mindfulness each night before you sleep might allow you to be ready to fall asleep if you're struggling with insomnia. When you complete mindfulness practice each night, your body may start to associate it with sleep in the future. 

Practicing different types of self-care 

Self-care is an ancient and widely explored practice that has taught various modes of relaxation, healing, meditation, and attentiveness. Although the definition may vary from person to person, it often involves activities or habits that individuals engage in to relax and rejuvenate their mind and body. Many of these activities can be done mindfully. 

Mindfulness activities include but are not limited to the following:

  • Mindful exercise
  • Expressive journaling 
  • Mindful eating 
  • Mindful engagement in hobbies 
  • Seeking therapy for personal fulfillment

Regardless of the form of self-care one opts for, it can be beneficial to understand its significance to your well-being. 

Exploring healthy coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety can be overwhelming, but research shows that exploring healthy coping mechanisms can be essential in coping with these symptoms. From mindfulness and meditation to physical activity and time management, self-care is an empowering tool to help individuals manage their symptoms.

By learning practical ways to devalue stressors, deeply listen to yourself, recognize distress, develop healthy interpersonal relationships, cultivate relaxation through yoga, art, or music, and create boundaries between work and home life, you may effectively cope with stress and anxiety. Regularly practicing these methods may help you live a more balanced life where mental health can take center stage.

Designing a personal self-care plan

Creating a personalized self-care plan involving mindfulness can be vital when considering your mental health. Self-care plans can be designed to meet an individual's specific needs by developing activities based on their interests and lifestyle.

Experts recommend including activities that promote personal growth, enhance social connections, encourage healthy eating habits, and provide adequate restful moments in your schedule. While some individuals may prefer to choose one activity each day, others may find it beneficial to do various activities throughout the week for balance. 

Making time for yourself and reconnecting with nature

Many people practice mindfulness by connecting with their environment in nature. Focusing on yourself and reconnecting with nature can have physical, emotional, and mental benefits. Reconnecting with nature can help clear your mind and give you perspective on your needs. Self-care also helps individuals foster habits like physical activity and healthy eating choices, often considered elements of a balanced lifestyle.

Achieving physical health and well-being

Research has also linked regular self-care activities like mindfulness to improved physical health, psychological well-being, and productivity. Understanding this statistic can show you how mindfulness might positively impact your body and mind long-term.  

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Mindfulness-based therapy 

Creating a therapeutic self-care plan that pairs traditional therapy with mindful practices can create a holistic approach to wellness. Many therapists offer mindfulness-based therapeutic modalities so individuals can discuss their mental health while receiving research-backed mindfulness instruction, worksheets, and advice. 

Mindfulness can be a component of human wellness, but it might be challenging to recognize or approach this type of practice without the support of a mental health professional. In addition, many people face barriers to achieving face-to-face support, as they might have trouble affording sessions or finding a therapist that meets their needs in their area. In these cases, online mindfulness-based counseling could be beneficial. 

Research has found that pairing online therapy with guided relaxation cultivates inner awareness while providing an opportunity for conscious exploration and insight. Similarly, coupling cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with meditation may help individuals develop macroscopic perspectives of their own behavior. 

Online mindfulness-based therapy through a platform like BetterHelp can also offer individuals the chance to practice mindfulness with a professional from home, potentially receiving worksheets, webinars, or journaling prompts through an app to participate in their treatment actively. 

Takeaway

Mindfulness has connections to wellness, mental health, and physical well-being. Incorporating regular self-care into your schedule might be challenging, but many people can build a routine over time. You can also consider incorporating therapy into your self-care plan if needed; several evidence-based studies have found mindfulness-based therapy effective, including through online formats.
 
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