What Is Mindfulness And How Can It Improve Your Mental Health

By: Sarah Fader

Updated January 25, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn

What Is Mindfulness?

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Mindfulness is the concept of bringing your attention to the present moment. By engaging in regular meditation practice, you’re honing your ability to stay in the present. You are not judging yourself, but being here right now. It’s a powerful feeling. Mindfulness and meditation are connected. When you pay attention to the present moment, you’re taking charge of your mental health. You can develop mindfulness by practicing meditation, and specifically, mindfulness meditation. The concept comes from Buddhism. It’s derived from Tibetan meditations, brought to western society, and made popular by particular practicing teachers, such as Jon Kabat Zinn. Mindfulness practice has become extremely common. Whether you’re using it as a part of meditating or as part of your therapeutic sessions, it’s a great tool that benefits mental health. Mindfulness has been popularized in therapy and clinical psychology, and it helps with many different conditions for both physical and mental health.

Who Is Jon Kabat Zinn?

Jon Kabat Zinn is a medicine professor who created the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He studied Zen Buddhism and learned about mindfulness meditation. He also taught the practice to others. He had a regular meditation practice that helped him learn more about himself and inspired him to teach others. He discovered that practicing mindfulness had many different benefits, but particularly to one’s psychological health. Jon Kabat Zinn has taught mindfulness and yoga and found the powerful nature of mindfulness meditation and how it can bring people into the present moment and reduce stress. By paying attention to one’s body and mind, one can live moment to moment and decrease stress and anxiety. Jon Kabat Zinn brought mindfulness meditation from the east to the west. He taught people many different meditations, including sitting meditation, body scan, and nature meditations. The body scan meditation is a guided meditation that helps people pay close attention to each part of their physical being. You can relax each cell of your body when you use the body scan. In addition to this exercise, he has several recordings that help people practice mindfulness. You can find guided meditation exercises by Jon Kabat Zinn on your smartphone or online. By using meditation practice, Jon Kabat Zinn illustrated how mindfulness could be used easily in everyday life. Guided mediation, in conjunction with cognitive therapy, was a great recipe for positive mental health.

Stress Reduction

Stress reduction is crucial for our mental health. When you’re constantly stressed out, it can take a toll on your well-being. That’s why stress reduction is critical. Mindfulness and meditation can help with these issues. They are tools that many people use when they’re overwhelmed, including meditation practice. Jon Kabat Zinn discovered that mindfulness was excellent at reducing stress. You don’t want your everyday life to be miserable. Using a mindfulness practice, you can take control of your mental health. It’s an empowering feeling to know that you can calm your mind and physical being. There have been studies that show that mindfulness relaxes the body and mind, lowering heart rate and blood pressure, which help with stress reduction. There are so many health benefits to being mindful. It gives you tools to manage your stress levels and shows you that you can always come back to your breathing when you’re stressed. When you’re stressed out, you’re likely not living in the present moment. Mindfulness meditation helps bring you back to right now and gives you the skills to handle your stressors. You don’t have to worry about anything that isn’t happening now. In addition to stress reduction, mindfulness has a lot more benefits. It can help with other mental health concerns.

Combat Negative Thinking

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One of the advantages of mindfulness meditation is that it helps with negative thinking. Some people prefer to practice mindfulness silently, while others may try a guided meditation when they’re having negative thoughts. Mindfulness practice can reduce the harmful psychological effects of negative thinking. Regardless, the point is to stay in the here and now with meditation practice. When you’re living in the present moment, your thoughts pass by, and you don’t have to change them. You can experience so many mindfulness meditation benefits when you don’t try to change how you feel. Let your thoughts and emotions be there. You don’t have to pay attention to them. When you’re practicing mindfulness exercises or engaging in body scan meditation, you’ll notice that negative thoughts come into your mind. Let them be there, and continue to experience the benefits of meditation. Mindfulness helps people focus on what matters. It can give you clarity on your thoughts and emotions. It also teaches people that these skills can be brought into their everyday life to reduce stress and anxiety.

Mental Health Conditions And Mindfulness

Mindfulness practice has an excellent ability to treat mental health conditions. Here are some of the mental health challenges that mindfulness helps people manage.

Anxiety – One of the issues that mindfulness treats is anxiety. When people are having anxiety or panic, it can be difficult to come down from that. Guided meditation can help those with racing anxious thoughts. It slows your mind and body. Learning mindfulness meditation is a way you can deal with chronic panic attacks or anxiety. You don’t have to feel out of control because mindfulness helps connect you back to your breath. Anxiety can make you feel overwhelmed like you’re drowning in thoughts. But, with mindfulness, you have a skill that you can rely on to ground yourself.

Depression – Mindfulness practice can be used to treat depressive symptoms. Sometimes when people are feeling depressed, their negative thoughts flood their minds. By using mindfulness, they can observe these ideas and let them pass. It can also help to take things one step at a time. Mindfulness focuses on the present moment, and that can help people who are bogged down by depressive symptoms where they feel like the future is hopeless. All the person has to do is focus on right now.

Chronic pain – One of the benefits of mindfulness is that it can support chronic pain people. Living with this condition can be debilitating. Mindfulness can help people with chronic pain management. Whether you try a guided meditation or a breathing exercise, mindfulness can help. You can breathe into the pain, which can make it feel less intense.

Substance abuse or addiction – Mindfulness can help people who have substance abuse issues. When you’re experiencing cravings, you can rely on coming back to the present moment. It teaches people to be more patient and grounded, even when they’re tempted to engage in impulsive, self-destructive behavior. One of the benefits of mindfulness is it gives a person a beat to think things through without reacting.

Stress reduction – Mindfulness reduces stress, which causes a lot of mental and physical health issues. When you practice mindfulness, you can strengthen your immune system. It’s a tool that you can use whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Mindfulness has a slew of different mental health benefits. When you practice mindfulness, you’re better able to regulate your thoughts and emotions. You will find that you can take a step back from situations before reacting impulsively. That helps with many issues, including anger management.

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Anger Management

People who have difficulty with anger management can benefit when they practice mindfulness. When you’re struggling with your temper, mindfulness can be a great way to come back into the present moment. You can slow your breathing and stop yourself from lashing out in anger. Stress and anxiety can bring on anger. You might feel out of control when you’re mad. Mindfulness practices show us how to bring awareness to our thoughts and feelings. When you observe what’s happening and have that moment awareness, you will understand your anger before responding to the trigger that made you mad. Your thoughts and feelings are valid, as is your anger. The more you engage in mindfulness meditation practice, the better you will respond when someone makes you mad. One thing to try when you’re mad is guided meditation. Take a step away from the situation and get to a safe place. Engage in a guided meditation and calm your mind and body. It can help when you’re angry to do that because you can assess your angry feelings in a level-headed way. Guided meditation can be incredibly helpful. It doesn’t just treat anger but a variety of conditions.

Self-Compassion

Mindfulness and self-compassion are linked. Learning mindfulness takes practice. When you’re in the process of learning the skills, you may experience negative thinking. That’s okay because that’s part of handling the thoughts that arise in your mind. You may feel pressured to change your thoughts. One of the tenets of mindfulness is non-judgmental thinking. Don’t try to modify how you think or feel. Experience the moment for what it is. Practice mindfulness so that you can get better at loving yourself. You can’t change your thoughts, and it’s okay to be compassionate about how difficult things are for you. You would be kind to a friend who was struggling. Use that same level of compassion on yourself when you practice mindfulness. You’ll find that accepting yourself becomes more comfortable the more you do it.

Mindfulness And Online Therapy

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Mindfulness practice is something you can learn in online therapy. An online counselor can show you how to practice mindfulness. They can teach you the skillset of staying in the moment. It can be helpful to develop a meditation practice routine. Many types of therapy incorporate mindfulness, including cognitive therapy. Don’t be afraid to reach out to an online therapist if you’re interested in learning about mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or other stress-reduction techniques.


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