Mindfulness is described as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.”
Mindfulness aims to help you:
- Become more self-aware
- Feel calmer and less stressed
- Have clarity in how you respond to your thoughts and feelings
- Cope with difficult or unhelpful thoughts
- Be kinder towards yourself
Mindfulness can alleviate mood as it helps us to relate to our thoughts, feelings and emotions, and teaches us how to deal and manage feelings when they arise. It works by calming the sympathetic nervous system letting us relax. Mindfulness can bring us out of a wired and anxious state of mind, especially before bed, allowing you to breathe and unwind. Focusing on the present during mindfulness reduces levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. It has been found to help with anxiety and depression too, by allowing people to learn how to let go of negative thoughts instead of obsessing over them.
Research by Neuroscientist Sarah Lazar found that meditation shrinks the part of the brain that controls anxiety and fear suggesting it could be an effective strategy for helping mood and anxiety disorders. Research published in JAMA Internal Medicine journal, says that meditation can provide a level of relief from symptoms of anxiety and depression similar to that of antidepressant drugs. Mindfulness can also reduce the risk of a relapse for individuals with depression.
All you need is 10 to 15 minutes of mindfulness to start to feel calmer and less stressed. Consistency is the key.
Please note. It can make you feel worse at first as you can be addressing negative thoughts. If you find the exercise distressing, then it’s best to seek advice from a trained professional.
Mind (2019) Available at: https://www.mind.org.uk
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Fell, A. (2013). Mindfulness from meditation associated with lower stress hormone. Available at: https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/mindfulness-meditation-associated-lower-stress-hormone/
Goyal, M. et al. (2014) Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being. A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Available at: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1809754
Keng SL, et al. (2011). Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: A review of empirical studies. Available at: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/images/uploads/Keng-Mindfulness_Review_and_Conceptions.pdf
Lazar S (2015). Mindfulness and mood disorders in the brain. Available at: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2015/03/mindfulness-mood
Rodrigues, MF. et al. (2017). Mindfulness in mood and anxiety disorders: a review of the literature. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28767927