Mindfulness and mental health go hand-in-hand, but what is mindfulness, and why is it essential to your mental health? How is mindfulness helpful if you are going through recovery?
If you are looking for mental health or substance abuse treatment, understanding the importance of mindfulness can go a long way toward giving you an alternative means of staying sober during recovery.
Water Gap Wellness Center is a mental health retreat in Pennsylvania, offering comprehensive substance abuse and mental health treatment near New York. Call us today to learn more about how our mindfulness therapy programs can help you during recovery.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is thought of as a form of meditation or philosophy and refers to your ability to be mindful of all things. Mindfulness helps to develop your acceptance of your present experience and avoid things like your natural negativity bias or evolutionary predisposition to acting on impulses.
But what is mindfulness, and why is it important? How is mindfulness helpful in recovery? Can mindfulness and mental health be used to treat situations like anxiety or depression without drug addiction?
Why is Mindfulness Important in Recovery?
Mindfulness opens the gap between emotion or impulse and our behavior.
We rarely notice the gap in non-mindful daily life. You can choose to be in the moment and choose to act on your desires. While in recovery, figuring out how is mindfulness helpful can significantly affect your long-term ability to choose to be in the moment instead of acting on desires and cravings.
These desires can be basic:
- The urge to scratch an itch
- The desire to move out of a painful seated position
- The impulse to constantly entertain yourself with movies or internet scrolling
During recovery, those desires become a bit more profound, like avoiding a deep craving for drugs or alcohol.
So how is mindfulness helpful? Let’s look at what is mindfulness and why it is vital with regard to addictive behaviors.
When you have a craving, it leads to addictive behaviors. The addiction (drugs, alcohol, food, sex) helps you maintain or increase a positive feeling (positive reinforcement) OR decrease a negative emotion (negative reinforcement).
Positive Reinforcement: This is a pleasurable experience that follows drinking or using drugs. This makes it more likely that you will use it again because of positive feelings like:
- Feeling high
- Having fun
- Being funny
- Having sex
- Connecting with others
- Or any good feeling that comes from an addictive behavior
Negative Reinforcement: This is the removal of painful experience that follows drinking or using drugs. This makes it more likely that you will use it again because you can avoid negative feelings like:
- Or some other unpleasant emotion
Then you start getting cues in daily life.
Positive cues might include seeing a gambling casino, seeing a mixed drink, or a cigarette that makes you feel happy or relaxed.
Negative cues like feeling lonely or depressed instigate a cue-induced craving to remove those feelings.
This vicious cycle can be broken with mindfulness and mental health training. Through repetition, these processes become automated, but conventional treatments don’t interrupt that automated loop. They teach you to avoid bars or liquor stores or call a friend when you have a craving. These things can dampen the cues or circumvent the addictive behavior temporarily, but these fail to target the underlying desire.
This is where the importance of mindfulness comes into play.
Mindfulness practice helps you change your relationship to cravings and interrupts this automated cycle.
How Can Mindfulness Improve Mental Health and Overall Wellness?
Almost everyone has habits they want to change. Some of these habits or impulses can be relatively harmless, but others are much more harmful, like an addiction.
Mindfulness can help with a variety of things:
- It can train you to embrace your experience at the moment, sit with discomfort and tolerate every emotional state you might experience. This can improve your attention to the present and help you develop empathy in your relationships.
- It can help you improve your compassion or empathy for people who are suffering, as well as your compassion, so that you learn to love yourself no matter your struggles, failures, or achievements.
- It can help you deep in your connections and communications with other people, serving as a way to overcome loneliness.
- It has been proven effective in coping with anxiety, fear, and worry.
- It can help transform chronic pain, alleviating stress-related pain and pain caused by negative emotions.
Water Gap Wellness Center Offers Mindfulness Therapy Programs in the Tri-State Area
Water Gap Wellness Center offers mindfulness therapy as part of our mental health and substance abuse treatment programs. Mindfulness practice can be tailored to your needs. You can work with our team to develop a religious or secular approach to your treatment, cultivate a sense of safety while practicing, and work through any mental health issues you might have.
Contact Water Gap Wellness today to learn more about our mindfulness therapy.