By: Jessica Johns-Green, LPC Mindfulness has been gaining attention in the field of mental health for a couple decades now. If you’re investigating ways to treat anxiety, depression and other mental health struggles, mindfulness may be something you’ve come across. Building mindfulness skills is also helpful for obsessive compulsive disorder, self injurious behaviors and eating […]
Mindfulness has been gaining attention in the field of mental health for a couple decades now. If you’re investigating ways to treat anxiety, depression and other mental health struggles, mindfulness may be something you’ve come across. Building mindfulness skills is also helpful for obsessive compulsive disorder, self injurious behaviors and eating disorders. The idea of it might make you think of meditation or yoga, but you don’t have to spend hours in silence or start bulk buying incense to take advantage of the benefits of mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an approach to ourselves where we aim to be aware and present in the moment with an open, accepting attitude. Our minds are typically full of thoughts – random and purposeful. Ones that we tend to focus on as important. Others that are there in the background. There are also waves of emotion – some that grab our attention and flood our experience. Others simmer in the background, affecting our bodies and behavior almost without us realizing. Being present in the moment – being mindful – is not a natural ability, but a skill we can learn. Building the skill of mindfulness takes short, but consistent practice in noticing emotions, thoughts, self talk and feelings in our bodies. Over time, we can learn to direct our attention, tolerate emotion and choose more effective responses to our situation.
How Mindfulness Can Improve Mental Health
When we get depression or struggle with anxiety, there is a felt sense that something in us is wired up wrong. That somehow our brains have become hijacked by this faulty wiring so that our negative self talk feels absolutely real, that we can’t survive a feeling of panic unless we escape, that we choose to do things even though those things don’t help in the long run. Much of the medications and therapies that treat anxiety, depression and other disorders are based on the idea that chemicals or structures in the brain are not doing their job the way they are supposed to. These treatments are about fixing the faulty ‘wiring’ so we can feel better again.
Research has been showing that we can also change the way our brains work with mindfulness https://observer.com/2017/06/neuroscience-mindfulness-brain-when-you-meditate-development/ . Although our brains are affected by our lives and genetics, our brain also has the ability to change with how we use it. Mindfulness is like a workout for your brain – a way of sort of strengthening certain areas as we use them. The parts that are involved in regulating emotion, storing memory and self awareness can all work together in healthier ways with the use of mindfulness. It is like re-wiring your brain to respond differently, allowing you to reduce fear responses and emotional pain.
Simple Ways To Start Using Mindfulness Now
A couple minutes a day is all you need to start practicing mindfulness. You can be anywhere, although beginners will do better with some quiet space and a comfortable place to sit.
A simple way to start is to use the STOP technique:
Take a breath
Observe your body, thoughts and feelings
Process your possibilities, and proceed
An option is to use a timer to carve out your mindfulness time. Start with just a few minutes every day, and be ok if being mindful is tough. Our minds are busy places, and some days might feel tougher than others. Be patient and remember that your job isn’t to control your mind, but to observe.
Extra help is out there. There are mindfulness apps that aim to guide you through. Here is a list of mindfulness apps, rated and summarized https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/top-meditation-iphone-android-apps New York Times reviews of Headspace and Calm https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-meditation-apps/
There are also YouTube videos that guide you through mindfulness practice. Some of my 5 minute favorites are:
Begin Mindfulness Skill Building As Part Of Your Therapy In Katy, TX Today!
If you want to become more self-aware reach out for help. The counselors at the Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch are trained in a range of treatment approaches, including mindfulness based therapies. We can help individuals and families dealing with stress, anxiety and depression. If you are ready to seek help, follow these steps:
- Contact our office to set up an appointment or to get more information about mindfulness
- Meet with one of our compassionate therapists
- Begin becoming aware of your thoughts and feelings!
Other Therapy Services We Offer
Here at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch we offer counseling services for people of all ages including: depression treatment, women’s issues, couples and marriage counseling, eating disorder treatment, counseling for kids, counseling for young adults, teen counseling, men’s issues, trauma counseling, anxiety therapy, and group counseling. Our therapists strive to regularly post blogs with helpful information on a variety of mental health topics. To learn more about our therapists and our counseling services, please reach out to the Counseling Center today!