Mindfulness is a practice that helps you be fully present in your life. It’s about focusing on the present moment and accepting your feelings without judgement. It is a great way to control stress and anxiety. Mindfulness can also help you improve your relationships and be more grateful for what you have.
Studies show that mindfulness has many benefits including: reducing stress, improving emotional regulation, boosting cognitive abilities, and strengthening relationships. However, it can also have negative side effects, so it’s important to talk with your doctor or therapist before trying mindfulness.
It’s important to be aware that mindfulness can lead to a change in the structure and function of the brain, so people with underlying mental health issues should talk to their therapist before practicing mindfulness. However, research shows that people with no underlying mental health issues can experience positive changes as a result of mindfulness.
When you are mindful, you focus on the present experience — like the feeling of your feet on the floor or the smell of the air. You notice your thoughts, emotions, and body sensations, but you don’t judge them as good or bad. It can be hard to do at first, but over time, you will become more and more skilled at noticing your thoughts and emotions as they come and go.
You can do a simple mindfulness exercise by sitting in a quiet room and paying attention to your breath. If your attention wanders, gently bring it back to your breath. Your mind will probably wander a lot, and that’s okay! Just notice where your attention goes and keep returning it to your breath. You can even try it during a stressful moment, like when you’re in an argument with your partner. Research has shown that mindfulness can decrease cortisol levels, the “famous” stress hormone, during a conflict.
In addition, mindfulness can help you be more flexible and resilient in times of stress, which can improve your work performance. For example, one study showed that mindfulness training decreased job burnout among physiotherapists, who often work in emotionally draining roles. The study found that a mindfulness program was associated with higher satisfaction with the job and fewer symptoms of emotional exhaustion (Hulsheger, 2013).
The benefits of mindfulness can be long-lasting, but it’s important to do it regularly. The more you practice, the greater the rewards. Like any other exercise, mindfulness requires discipline and commitment. It’s helpful to start by establishing what you want to get out of the practice and then creating a schedule that works for your life. It’s also helpful to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.