Benefits of Mindfulness for Mental Health

Stress and anxiety are natural responses to certain situations, and everyone experiences them now and then. But persistent or undue stress can make it extremely difficult to feel good about yourself and go about your daily life. Mental health concerns can make working, attending school, focusing on daily tasks, or enjoying relationships difficult.

Mindfulness can help, though.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the mind-body practice of being fully aware of our thoughts, senses, bodily sensations, and feelings with no reactivity or judgment. People use techniques like grounding, deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to achieve this state of being fully present in the moment.

How Can Mindfulness Promote Mental Health?

Mindfulness exercises can help you:

• Become aware of your negative thoughts

• Manage negative thoughts better

• Identify and understand your emotions

• Feel more optimistic

• Feel more relaxed

• Improve focus and attention

• Boost your memory

• Have better relationships

Mindfulness Helps Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Research has demonstrated that mindfulness can rewire the brain – regular mindfulness exercise can lead to changes in the brain that impact our thoughts and behavior by decreasing the activity in the amygdala. This is the cluster of neurons in the limbic system responsible for emotional processing within our brain.

So, when you feel anxious, the amygdala is where your anxiety response starts.

When emotional or environmental stressors trigger your amygdala to perceive danger, it starts the “fight or flight” response to prepare you for action. Consequently, you experience emotional, cognitive, and bodily signs of anxiety. Mindfulness exercises can reduce the background level of stress and anxiety by impacting and reducing the amygdala activity.

5-4-3-2-1 grounding Technique

When you’re feeling upset, restless, or worried, try the quick grounding exercise below.

Take a look around and name:

  • Five things that you can see around you
  • Four things that you can touch around you
  • Three things that you can hear around you
  • Two things you can smell around you
  • One thing that you can taste around you

This grounding practice is helpful in situations of excessive anxiety, fear, anger, and other negative emotions.

Mindfulness Can Ease Depression

Mindfulness exercises such as focused breathing, body scan, or grounding can help regulate emotions and redirect negative thoughts.

If you have depression, you might feel overwhelmed by self-beating thoughts of worthlessness, shame, guilt, and hopelessness. Such thoughts can intensify your low mood and worsen depression.

Mindfulness can help you acknowledge your negative thoughts and feelings without reacting to them, reducing their intensity and helping you feel more optimistic.

Try This:

When you feel particularly stressed or in a low mood, choose a comfortable position and do the deep breathing exercise:

  • Begin with a deep inhale through your nose until your stomach feels full of air.
  • Then hold your breath and allow it to fill your lungs and brain.
  • Now exhale slowly through your mouth.
  • Concentrate on the entire process and repeat until you feel at ease.

Mindful Grounding Techniques: What are they and How May They Benefit Mental Health?

Grounding is a psychological coping strategy to bring yourself into the present moment by connecting with your body and immediate environment. It is a first step toward mindful presence because it brings you into the present moment. A grounding strategy can be beneficial when feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or distressed.

Grounding exercises often focus on the senses, such as touching, smelling, or hearing (this is known as sensory and physical grounding). In distress, you can ground yourself by touching a tree or the grass with your bare hands and feet.

·      Physical grounding

  • Sit on the grass and run your fingers through it until you feel connected to the earth beneath you. Focus on the texture you feel, is it rough, soft or stiff? Incorporate colors you see or objects around you
  • Close your eyes and pay attention to the sounds in your backyard. Are there birds chirping?  Wind blowing in the trees? Dogs barking? Machinery or traffic?
  • Focus on the sensation of your breathing. Slowly inhale, and then exhale. Feel each breath filling your lungs and note how it feels to push it back out.

Other helpful grounding exercises may involve:

  • Emotional grounding
  • Journaling to identify your negative emotions
  • Taking a relaxing bath or
  • Listening to calming music
  • Mental grounding
  • Playing a memory game, reciting a poem, use math or numbers and count in sequences or
  • Engaging in visualization exercises such as daily task you enjoy doing such as enjoying a warm cup of tea and reading a book
  • Touch something comforting. This may be your favorite blanket or t-shirt or anything that feels good to touch. Think about how it feels under your fingers or in your hand.
  • Practice self-kindness and repeat phrases such as “I am doing the best I can with what I have”, “I am safe and secure” or “I am worthy and loved”.

Focusing on your immediate surroundings or body sensations can help bring your attention away from distressing thoughts, memories, or feelings, ease anxiety, and make you feel more in control of your body, thoughts, and environment. Grounding is a practice that can help you pull away from flashbacks, unwanted memories, and negative or challenging emotions. Grounding techniques can be powerful tools to help you cope with distressing thoughts in the moment. If you’re having trouble using grounding techniques, a therapist may be able to assist.

It’s also important to get help from a therapist so you can address the root cause of your distress. 


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