By the end of this article you’re going to know how to use mindfulness in your life. You’re going to experience mindfulness with two quick activities, and you’re going to learn how mindfulness can help you calm your body and your mind. The techniques of mindfulness shifts your perspective on emotions. You’ll learn how to get better at soothing anxiety, you’ll learn to process sad feelings, and you’ll learn to quiet negative self-talk. Mindfulness combined with CBT has been shown to work as well as medication at treating depression and anxiety, but without the side effects – and it’s more effective in the long-term.
Mindfulness actually helps rewire your brain. It helps improve connectivity between neurons and the part of your brain that processes emotions. In skill number five we looked at how avoidance and struggle with our emotions tends to make us miserable, or at the very least keeps us from living the life we dream of. So what’s the alternative? Is it just suffering? No! Today we’ll look at mindful acceptance as a step toward resolving emotions. When things get stressful, do you find yourself coping in unhealthy ways, like overeating, venting, or just avoiding things altogether? These strategies may work in the short term, but eventually they’ll end up causing more problems than they solve.
Imagine what’d it be like if you had the skills to work through tough emotions without losing it. My online course Coping Skills and Self-Care for Mental Health takes you through the process of creating your own healthy coping and self-care routine. You’ll learn to identify triggering situations, manage intense emotions; you’ll learn to calm your stress response and build your own personalized coping skills list so that you can handle different situations. By the end of the article you’ll show stress, anxiety, and depression that they don’t run your life because you’ll have the skills to manage emotions in healthy ways.
When we’re mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace, and love. Have you ever had an experience where you were intensely aware of the moment? Maybe it was a beautiful sunrise or even a frightening experience. And suddenly you started noticing the tiny details of each thing around you. Perhaps you noticed the way the light was hitting the trees or the feel of the dirt beneath your feet. Maybe you heard the sound of the birds or maybe even of your own breath. Everything felt real, crisp; the moment felt magical, you felt alive. You’re plowing through the day; you’re trying to just not think about your life or just waiting for it to get better. Maybe you felt that way for weeks and months on end.
Now, we often attribute these feelings of joy or misery with the outside circumstances. So for me, I remember a time I felt like the world was alive, when I was hiking in Hawaii. So we might think, Oh, the beautiful sunrise gave me joy and my daily grind gave me misery. But there is another method to look at that. So what if it was the state of awareness that brought joy and the habit of distraction and avoidance that brought misery? Our minds, our hearts, and our bodies have an innate healing ability. We have a natural drive to heal and resolve problems, to find joy and to grow. When we stop interfering with that natural drive, when we stop distracting ourselves endlessly and we start acknowledging instead of avoiding all of our feelings, we give ourselves the freedom to come back to ourselves and to find peace and joy.
Our brain has a natural ability to file away our problems and to resolve them in the in the downtime, but if we never give ourselves quiet time then it creates this backlog of issues to file away. So some indications that you might have a problem with distraction are: you have a hard time sleeping – and that could be because your mind is finally getting a chance to sort through your thoughts – or if you always need music on your phone or if when you sit still with nothing to do you feel sad or anxious. This can all be caused by being kind of addicted to distraction and busyness. On the other hand, we can train our minds to feel joy and vitality by developing our present moment awareness.
So instead of fleeing, properly, having to go through different experiences to feel happy, like a vacation or a lottery win, we can create joy in the present moment by waking up and living. In my opinion, acceptance is the key to turning current happiness into lasting happiness. It helps you feel happy to be really happy. So what is mindfulness? Mindfulness is just being aware. That’s right. It is aware of what we are experiencing here and now. For example, do you realize that the chair is pressing down on your legs? Well, now you are aware of it. Another way of describing it is to be awake to the present moment.
We can practice mindfulness, we can actively train these conscious muscles and focus our consciousness on our body sensations, our thoughts and our emotions. If we do this while actively accepting the present moment, thoughts, sensations, and emotions, we can develop more inner strength. Practicing mindfulness can help you reduce anxiety and depression, it can help you feel your emotions better, and it can help you relax and feel more centered, richer, and more connected with your life.