What are the Psychological Benefits of Mindfulness?
Written by Kate Potter for Doctify
Mindfulness. You may have heard it spoken of with reverence or disdain. Either way, it seems to be a polarising practice that has kept people talking. But what actually is mindfulness? And what is the point?
Top Doctify Psychologist, Dr Kate Potter is here to explain to us exactly what the fuss is all about.
So, what actually is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is simply bringing attention to the present moment. You do this without trying to change, fix or hold on to what is happening either internally or externally. Mindfulness is an ancient eastern spiritual construct. Since the late 1970s it has been used successfully in the treatment of a number of psychological and physical health problems. These include:
- Chronic pain
How can it help in our daily lives?
Mindfulness can be cultivated on a day to day basis. This can be done by bringing our awareness to our breath and our body more frequently throughout the day. Many of us go about our everyday lives as if we are just a head with two hands, completely disregarding our body. Unsurprisingly, we can often miss the warning signs of a headache coming on. Often we don’t notice the buildup of frustration that leads us to lose our cool at our children or partner.
What psychological conditions can mindfulness help with?
Research suggests that being more mindful of our breath (and therefore our bodies) can improve our sleep, promote a sense of calm, alleviate stress and bring about clarity of mind. It can also foster compassion that can help to improve our relationships.
However, despite these benefits, people can be deterred by the association of mindfulness as a spiritual and meditative practice. So, it might be helpful to clarify that mindfulness meditation is not a religious practice and does not have to involve sitting formally in a meditative position for long periods of time.
Tips for incorporating mindfulness into daily life
- One way to increase a more mindful way of being is to set an alarm on your phone every hour. Each hour you can be reminded to check in with your breath and notice your posture and your frame of mind. At this point you may want to deepen your breath to calm the body if you have noticed you have been shallow breathing (which promotes anxiety and panic).
- Alternatively, you might want to pull back your shoulders and do some neck rolls if tension has started to build.
- Lastly, you may choose to bring yourself out of a mental story and positively re-focus your attention to the task or person in front of you.
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If mentioned here has affected you and you want to know more, contact Dr Potter below.