If you’ve been keeping up with my posts, you’re likely to have already learned quite a bit about mindful thinking, the practice of gratitude, how to be more optimistic, and so much more. Today, we’ll dive into how important a mindfulness practice truly is. I’ll share some practical mindfulness tips along with evidence from the study of positive psychology.
As touched on previously, being mindful requires us to:
- Overcome the desire to reduce uncertainty in daily life
- Override a tendency to engage in automatic behaviour
- Engage less frequently in the negative evaluation of yourself, others, and situations
In moments of mindfulness, and with sustained practice, you may notice certain qualities are likely to appear:
- Letting go
- Loving kindness
Mindfulness can also reduce stress, allowing you to accept external situations and internal stress, fully embracing what you’re currently going through with minimal resistance. When people make mindfulness a habit, studies show individuals tend to produce less of a stress hormone called “cortisol” when reacting to something emotional. This reduces the overall amount of distress your body experiences!
According to Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), regular practice weakens the association between negative thoughts and depressive emotions. It allows you to focus more on the awareness of thoughts and emotions as opposed to the evaluation of the legitimacy of the thoughts. As a result, we see benefits such as a reduction in depressive relapse, reduced depressive and anxiety symptoms, and lessening the symptoms of social phobias. We also see better sleep quality, more calmness and positive feelings about the self, better rehab and addictions recovery, less conflict and more ability to cope. Amazingly, these benefits can be seen at any age – in children, adolescents, or adults.
Not surprisingly, mindfulness may allow you to become better at multitasking by increasing your ability to be cognitively flexible. Evidence shows better spatial abilities as well, due to greater ability for awareness and the potential for neuroplasticity (making new neural connections in the brain!).
- One of the simplest ways to beginning a mindfulness practice is to start with a few minutes a day of quiet deep breathing and meditation. It might seem strange at first sitting in silence, listening to your breath, trying to clear your head, however with patience and dedication, you’ll be able to fall into this calm, relaxed state more easily.
- Taking part in a yoga session can also get you into a relaxed, mindfulness state as the body postures and positions are meant to stimulate a calmer nervous system along with positive changes physically, cognitively, and emotionally.
- Try self-guided mindfulness by using a workbook on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which has been proven successful at reducing feelings of stress.
If you have any thoughts, questions or comments about this post or anything mindfulness related, feel free to write in the comments below!