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What is mindfulness? In its simplest definition, it is the act of intentionally focusing on the present moment. It means that you are being present and aware of your surroundings, what you’re experiencing, and how you’re feeling in each and every moment.
Most people think of mindfulness as it relates to yoga or meditation, but you can also practice mindfulness by simple tasks, like sitting in a chair and being completely aware of your breathing. While being mindful might seem easy, it does take practice.
Most of our days are consumed with getting things done, checking out our phones, and rushing through our day. According to a study by the Department of Homeland Security, up to 50% of a person’s day is spent thinking of the past or the future instead of living in the present moment.
Using Mindfulness to Manage Stress
Mindfulness has been shown as an effective tool in reducing stress, depression, and anxiety. It is well known that stress can affect one’s long-term health, but managing stress is also essential for those suffering from a substance use disorder or even for those in active recovery. Research has shown that there is a direct link between stress and the development of an addiction, and for those in recovery, stress can make one vulnerable to a relapse.
In addition to managing stress, other benefits of mindfulness include:
#1. Improvements in Mental Health: Being mindful will help you feel refreshed and focused. Your overall well-being may improve if, while being mindful, you allow yourself to feel relaxed and release all of the tensions and pressures you’ve been experiencing throughout the day.
#2. Improvements in Physical Health: Mindfulness has been shown to lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate, and boost energy levels. Feeling healthier helps to promote self-confidence and self-care.
#3. Encourages Compassion: Having compassion helps you understand and relate to others more, and relating to others more helps you build your support community. Having a strong community of friends, loved ones, and peers is an important part of the recovery process.
How Mindfulness Helps in Recovery
Mindfulness as part of a treatment program will help you become more self-aware. Your decision-making will improve because you are now more aware of your thoughts and feelings. Taking the time to be present in the moment will allow you to spot warning signs of things or situations that may trigger you, helping you make sure that you can take action before a relapse occurs.
At The Kimberly Center, we use mindfulness and grounding techniques to help our clients cope with feelings, stress, triggers, and urges as a way to manage their stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness Techniques You Can Do Right Now
While mindfulness does take practice, there are things you can begin to do right now to practice. These techniques include:
- Sitting Still: Take a few moments to find a quiet place to sit or lie down. Take deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling. Take a moment to pay attention not only to your breath but how your body feels. If you feel tension in any part of your body, use these few minutes to let your mind and body fully relax.
- Take a Walk: If you prefer to be active, take a few minutes to talk a short walk. You can walk outside or inside around your current environment. While walking, make sure you are taking deep breaths to help you relax. Notice your surroundings and how you are feeling. Take these moments to do a self-check-in.
As you are practicing mindfulness, remember to be kind to yourself. There is no right or wrong way to practice mindfulness. Your mind may wander at times, though, especially in the beginning. When this happens, do your best to return to concentrating on your breath and focus on relaxation.
Mindfulness is a journey. The most crucial step is finding an activity that allows you to be present in the moment. Practice putting away any distractions like social media, your phone, or even your radio or television for a few minutes a day in order to sit quietly and be present with your thoughts and feelings. Eventually, you’ll look forward to these moments of quiet, and they will become part of your daily routine.
Mindfulness is an essential tool in recovering from addiction and staying sober while in recovery. Being mindful encourages you to stay in the moment and be present with yourself. While this may sound simple, mindfulness takes practice. You can start simply by sitting still or taking a walk free from distractions. Stress is known to be a risk factor in developing an addiction or experiencing a relapse during recovery. Mindfulness will help reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. Once mindfulness becomes part of your lifestyle, you’ll notice improvements in mental and physical health and in your overall well-being. If you would like more information on using mindfulness to reduce stress or how mindfulness treatment programs are effective in treating substance abuse, please contact us today at (855) 452-3683. Here at The Kimberly Center, we offer comprehensive programs to assist with substance abuse and related issues. Our goal is to restore individuals to healthier, happier lives, free from substance dependence.