Mindfulness is the act of intentionally noticing what is happening or occurring in and around you. To most, that may sound a lot like paying attention to what’s going on. Well, it is. Taking the time to be present is what mindfulness is all about. And this simple act is how being mindful helps your mental health.
Mental health is an often-overlooked aspect of wellness. People commonly think and act upon their physical health and wellbeing—but what about mental health? What are you doing regularly for your mental health? Being mindful helps your mental health.
Become Conscious and Take Control
The first way that mindfulness improves your mental health is that it makes you aware or conscious. In particular, it makes you conscious of your emotional and spiritual state of being. The practice of noticing and acknowledging your state of being can elevate you to a higher level of mental health. Here is why.
Most of the time, we react out of habit. We never recognize the emotional and mental state we are experiencing. Emotions happen to us without us, giving them a second thought. They are similar to blinking or swallowing. They happen, we are part of the processes, and yet we never pay much attention to them. However, when we gain awareness of our state of being, this will naturally give us a level of control we never had when they were unconscious states.
Being mindful helps your mental health by gaining control of your emotional and spiritual states. When you do this, you are no longer at the mercy of your repetitive responses. You can be in control of your actions. Making a rational decision does not mean that you don’t feel emotions or that you only feel them with less intensity. The difference is that you become consciously aware of the current state that you are in, and then you can choose to either remain there or redesign that stage.
There is nothing better for your mental health than gaining this control.
Slow Down and Change Views
Mindfulness also helps people to slow down and reduce the flow of sensations. Think about a firehose. Have you ever tried to put something inside a firehose while a stream of water is coming out? It’s impossible! The firehose has too much force for anything to go against it.
Life works similarly. Throughout the day, constantly bombarded with stimulations and sensations, we become overwhelmed. It’s a one-way street that seems to have no end. How do we plan to get anything in the opposite direction?
Mindfulness gives you the ability to select which inputs you want to receive, and which ones you will let pass through. Turning off the news and social media can be beneficial for your mental health. It prevents over-stimulation, which can result in depression, anxiety, and stress disorders.
It’s a Fact, Jack
The mental health benefits of mindfulness are not just the opinions of a few practitioners. A study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology stated that mindfulness-based therapies could reduce relapse into depression by 50%. Mindfulness is an effective and practical means to address many other mental health issues as well.
It’s pretty amazing, how being mindful helps your mental health. All of these benefits, and just for the price of…noticing.
 Teasdale JD, et al. Prevention of Relapse/Recurrance in Major Depression by Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 2000, 68 (4), 615-623