If you’re new to the art of mindfulness, it can seem an intimidating practice.
It doesn’t have to be – in fact, mindfulness is one of the most accessible ways to alleviate stressors and encourage relaxation! It's also been shown to help individuals who have anxiety and depression.
What does mindfulness mean – and how can it help my anxiety or depression?
Mindfulness is learning how to be fully present in the moment, aware of where we are and what we are doing without reacting or being overwhelmed. We acknowledge our thoughts and feelings without judging them.
For people suffering from anxiety or depression this approach is useful because it has been shown to reduce stress.
What’s it like to learn mindfulness in therapy?
There are many tools available for learning mindfulness, and a therapist can help guide you.
During the session the therapist, will first teach you breathing exercises. Other aspects of mindfulness – such as being non-judgmental and kind to yourself – are also discussed in therapy.
What are some mindfulness exercises I can practice on my own?
- Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
- Keep both feet on the ground and your hands in your lap.
- Breathe in through your nose for four seconds. Focus on the breath and the cold air coming in.
- Breathe out through your mouth for six seconds. Focus on the warm air going out.
You can also be mindful in your everyday activities.
For example, when you eat, only engage in that activity. Do not look at your phone, watch television, or read. Just focus on the food, and the experience of eating.
What should I look for in a therapist who practices mindfulness?
When first talking to a new therapist, ask the therapist how mindfulness is incorporated into treatment.
Ask the therapist:
- How does mindfulness help you to cope with anxiety or depression?
- Does the therapist recommend any books or phone apps for you to use
Ultimately, the therapist should help you learn strategies to increase awareness, be present, identify feelings, and learn meditative tools.