Canaan, CT – In today’s fast-paced world, many Americans are running on autopilot mode as they send emails, think about what to make for dinner, and check their phones before going to bed. Distracted thinking prevents people from fully appreciating and participating in their own lives. It can also inhibit productivity, motivation, and creativity. Taming a wandering mind takes time, but through mindfulness meditation, people can engage their senses and safeguard their well-being. Here are four perks of practicing mindfulness:
- Reduce mental clutter. A 2017 poll from the analytics company Gallup revealed that nearly 80 percent of Americans report encountering stress in their everyday lives. Because stress often arises from distracted thinking related to past or future events, mindfulness can be a useful tool for stress reduction. Through mindfulness exercises, people can train themselves to focus on the present, remain alert, and become less judgmental or emotionally reactive toward intrusive thoughts. In 2017, researchers from the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology discovered that mindfulness-based interventions can alleviate stress symptoms, reduce fatigue, and help participants avoid dwelling on negative beliefs.
- Strengthen the entire person. Aside from stabilizing emotions, mindfulness exercises can contribute to physical well-being. According to Harvard Health, mindfulness techniques may bolster physical health by reducing blood pressure, improving sleep, relieving chronic pain, and even treating heart disease. There is also evidence that mindfulness exercises can reduce a person’s risk of developing inflammation-related diseases. By engaging in ten to 20 minutes of daily mindfulness meditation, people can nurture both their minds and bodies.
- Manage anxiety and depression. A 2018 study from Clinical Psychology Review reveals that mindfulness can help individuals cope with certain mental health conditions. The researchers found that mindfulness-based interventions and evidence-based therapies, such as antidepressants, performed similarly in treating symptoms of anxiety and depression. Because mindfulness fosters constructive thought patterns and discourages rumination – recurrent, negative thinking that has been linked to anxiety and depression – it can be an effective form of behavioral health treatment. Those who are mindful of their depressive thinking can make a conscious effort to challenge their personal biases and become more optimistic.
- Aid in addiction recovery. With its emphasis on finding joy in the present, mindfulness can be especially restorative for those struggling with addiction. “In the past, people in recovery may have used drugs or alcohol to numb their emotional pain,” says Sheree Surdam, Wellness Program Manager at Mountainside. “Mindful thinking shows them how to live in the moment, accept themselves as they are, and start processing the negative emotions they may have been avoiding during active addiction. By facing their fear, sadness, or anger head-on, they become more tolerant of discomfort and feel empowered to lead happy, sober lives.”
Whether a person decides to begin a structured meditation routine or simply set aside time to breathe, they can achieve total well-being by becoming more mindful of their thoughts and surroundings. Learning to enjoy the present rather than anticipating what lies ahead requires practice and patience, but the reward is worth the effort. In doing so, people can improve their quality of life, find deeper purpose, and attain peace of mind.