Apr 26, 2023 | Mental Health

Woman meditating during sunrise on mountain top

The Impact of Mindfulness on Mental Health

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Understanding mental health issues is important. Even more so, learning how to properly address and support your mental health is equally as important. Whether it be medication, therapy, openly talking about your mental health or using technology such as mindfulness or calming apps (or a combination of several techniques), finding out what helps you feel better will benefit your mental health greatly.  

So, today, we wanted to discuss the importance of mindfulness and its impact on mental health. 

What is mindfulness? 

According to the American Psychological Association, mindfulness is described as the following: “Mindfulness is awareness of one’s internal states and surroundings. Mindfulness can help people avoid destructive or automatic habits and responses by learning to observe their thoughts, emotions, and other present-moment experiences without judging or reacting to them. Mindfulness is used in several therapeutic interventions, including mindfulness-based cognitive behavior therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and mindfulness meditation.” 

Mindfulness originated form the Buddhist concept of “Sati” which relates to the “moment to moment” awareness of present events. 

When you practice mindfulness, you choose to live in the moment and be present instead of focusing or harbouring on the past or worrying about what is in store for the future. Being mindful allows you to better label your feelings objectively, which can often help individuals manage challenging emotions. It is important to note that the point of mindfulness is not to stop your thinking. Rather, it teaches you to better recognize your thoughts and emotions so that you can see them clearly, free of made-up situations or assumptions. 

How can you be more mindful? 

Being mindful can help bring you back to a calmer and less anxious state of mind, allowing you to better focus and go about your day. 

Meditation 

Meditation is a practice that can have many benefits to your mental health. When you are feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, practicing a few minutes of meditation may be just what your mind needs to refocus and balance its thoughts.  

Find a quite space and follow these few steps:  

  • take several deep breaths (in through your nose and out through your mouth) 
  • pay close attention to how your body feels 
  • observe your natural breathing  
  • when your mind begins to wander, bring your attention back to your breath 

There are many apps that can help you with these practices. Some favourites include: Headspace, Calm, and Healthy Minds Program. These apps can help guide you through meditation practices depending on what you are needing in specific situations. From helping you calm your mind at night to guided practices to apply during your day, you will find something that will help you on your mindfulness journey! 

Incorporate the S.T.O.P Method 

This mindfulness activity is based on four steps and can be used in times of stress and anxiety. Let’s discuss each letter: 

S: Stop  

Stop what you are doing, both your thoughts and your actions. 

T: Take 

Take several deep breaths and bring yourself back to the present moment. 

O: Observe 

Observe what is going on with your: body (what can you see, feel, hear, taste or smell), emotions (what are you feeling in this moment?), mind (what story are you telling yourself about what and why you are feeling the way you are?). 

P: Proceed 

Proceed with what you were doing, keeping in mind what you just reflected on during your practice.  

While practicing mindfulness may seem daunting or time consuming, you don’t need to spend hours doing it! A few minutes each day can make a significant difference to your mental health, and soon you will likely find you are doing it without even realizing. 

Learn more on this topic

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