How Does Mindfulness Improve Mental Health?

How Does Mindfulness Improve Mental Health?

Mindfulness is a popular technique that teaches you to be mindful or cognizant of who you are, where you are, and what you are feeling. This technique has its roots in Buddhism and Hinduism. It’s often associated with meditation, breathing techniques, and yoga because all of those tools help cultivate the development of and enhance mindfulness. It has been used in schools, mental health treatment, substance abuse, and in workplaces. 

Water Gap Wellness Center is a Pennsylvania mental health treatment center that offers quality care for those in need. Contact us today to learn more about our outpatient mental health treatment services.

Mindfulness and the Present

How does mindfulness improve mental health? Countless ways. Firstly, mindfulness primarily focuses on the present. Too often, people in recovery struggle with the past or the future and don’t think about what’s happening right now. But this can lead to mental health disorders like anxiety or depression. These are common symptoms of both.

Mental health and mindfulness can be improved by training the brain to focus on the present. One of the easiest tools to achieve this is breathing. There may not be a lot of control over what happens at work, during drug and alcohol rehab, or at home, but there is control over breathing.

Mindfulness can teach you to return to your breathing.

So how does mindfulness improve mental health with breathing training? It encourages clients to return to their breath when they feel overwhelmed, stressed, or angry.

When people are scared, nervous, anxious, or overwhelmed, they tend to take deep breaths from their clavicle. This is called clavicular breathing. It worsens things like stress and anxiety because it doesn’t give you a full, deep breath in the belly, which can improve circulation and calm mental activity. It can worsen things like panic attacks. 

Mindfulness can teach you how to avoid clavicular breathing when under stress.

When all else is overwhelming, when something unexpected happens, or when you are still in rehab and struggling, you can return to your breathing to help you focus on simple things in the present, like:

  • Your breathing
  • The feel of your fingertips rubbing against one another
  • The feel of your clothes against your skin
  • The sounds in your immediate space
  • The smell in the room
  • The temperature of the space
  • The surface of the chair or bed beneath you

Mindfulness and Discomfort

How else can mindfulness improve mental health? It can teach you to sit in discomfort. Mental health disorders and substance abuse bring a great deal of discomfort at times, and too often, society encourages people to get rid of that discomfort, push it aside immediately, or otherwise suppress it.

This mindset can lead to substance abuse as individuals try to immediately get rid of discomfort with drugs or alcohol.

Mindfulness can teach you to sit with discomfort and accept it.

Mental health and mindfulness can be improved by teaching yourself to sit with that discomfort instead of immediately trying to push it away. Discomfort is a normal part of living, and it doesn’t matter if you are currently in treatment or recovery; learning to sit with that discomfort can help you tolerate cute symptoms like anxiety or minor depression. It can also help you tolerate cravings in recovery instead of trying to immediately find something that alleviates that discomfort or numbs you.

Mindfulness and Cravings/Self-Medication

So how else can mindfulness improve mental health? Mindfulness can teach you to be aware of uncomfortable feelings and know that they are temporary, so you don’t have to immediately try to get rid of them with self-medication, prescription medication, drugs, or alcohol.

Mindfulness can help you avoid things like cravings or the need to self-medicate.

This looks a little different for every client. Some conditions might require prescription medications to treat symptoms, but others might not. If you are in the “not” category, you might try to wean yourself away from prescription medications and replace them with techniques and coping skills learned in therapy. 

Mindfulness is one of those skills, and at Water Gap Wellness Center, we provide access to mindfulness education, training, yoga, breathing practices, and meditation, all of which contribute to developing your mindfulness toolkit. With our facility, we can teach you healthy coping skills that can replace things like self-medication, drug and alcohol dependence, or immediately trying to do away with discomfort. We can also teach you to appreciate and acknowledge uncomfortable emotions or situations and sit with them, knowing that they will pass.

Call Water Gap Wellness Center today to learn more about our mindfulness programs.

About WGWC

Water Gap Wellness Center offers expert and compassionate treatment for mental health and substance abuse at our Pennsylvania facility, just outside New Jersey, a short drive from New York. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you today. 

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