Mindfulness is the act of intentionally noticing what is happening or occurring in and around you.
To most, that may sound a lot like paying attention to what’s going on. Well, it kind of is. Taking the time to be present and in the moment is what mindfulness is all about. And this simple act can benefit you greatly, particular in the area of mental health.
Mental health is an often-overlooked aspect of wellness. People commonly think and act upon their physical health and wellbeing—but what about mental health?
What are you doing on a regular basis for your mental health? Mindfulness is a simple and effective way to address your mental health.
Become Conscious and Take Control
The first way that mindfulness improves your mental health is that it makes you aware, or conscious.
In particular, it makes you conscious of your emotional and mental state of being. The practice of noticing and acknowledging your state of being can elevate you to a higher level of mental health. Here is why.
Most of the time we exist in a state of being in an unconscious way. We never recognize the emotional and mental state we are in. Emotions just happen to us without us giving them a second thought.
They are similar to blinking or swallowing. They happen, we are part of the processes, and yet we never pay much attention to them. However, when we gain awareness of our state of being, this will naturally give us a level of control we never had when they were unconscious states.
The most important thing you can do for your mental health may be to gain control of your emotional and mental states. When you do this, you are no longer at the mercy of your state of being.
You can be in control of your state of being. This does not mean that you don’t feel emotions or that you only feel them with less intensity.
The difference is that you become consciously aware of the current state that you are in and then you can choose to either remain there or move away from that stage.
There is nothing better for your mental health than gaining this control.
Slow Down and Change Views
Mindfulness also helps people to slow down and reduce the flow of sensations. Think about a firehose.
Have you ever tried to put something inside a firehose while a stream of water is coming out? It’s absolutely impossible! The water is coming out of the hose with too much force for anything to go against it.
Life works in a similar way. We’re constantly bombarded with stimulations and sensations throughout the day. It’s a one-way street that seems to have no end. How do we plan to get anything in the opposite direction?
Mindfulness gives you the ability to select which inputs you want to receive, and which ones you will let pass you by. This can be significantly beneficial for your mental health. It prevents over-stimulation, which can result in depression, anxiety, and stress disorders.
It’s a Fact, Jack
The mental health benefits of mindfulness are not just the opinions of a few practitioners.
A study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology stated that mindfulness based therapies can reduce relapse into depression by 50%. Mindfulness has been shown to be an effective and practical means to address many other mental health issues as well.
It’s pretty amazing. All of these benefits, and just for the price of…noticing.
1 Teasdale JD, et al. Prevention of Relapse/Recurrance in Major Depression by Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 2000, 68 (4), 615-623