Mindfulness helps you be in the present moment. Instead of focusing on anxious or depressive thoughts, mindfulness erases or helps you re-phrase these. Your focus can then be on the present moment. In the present, you have less anxiety or depression. Depressive thoughts come from thinking about the past. Anxious thoughts come from thinking about the future. Being in the present moment is where your mind can relax and only focus on what is in front of you now.
Benefits of Mindfulness on Depression and Anxiety
Mindfulness has many benefits of being in the present moment. It helps you to stop the cycle of depressive or anxious thoughts your mind may be playing out. By focusing on the moment, you can overcome challenges easier. You can also deal with problems head-on from a relaxed state of being. By relaxing while addressing problems, you won't make rash or uneducated decisions. You can choose to take your time before making any decisions.
Two studies conducted show the benefits of mindfulness on depression and anxiety. In the first study, participants measured anxiety with a self-report instrument. It consisted of the severity of the fear. Participants would write down the number of times the participant felt anxious daily. Also, they would write down their thoughts about their nervousness. Participants received an intervention. It consisted of three-minute mindfulness twice a week.
In the second study, they used a standard measure of psychological well-being. It included the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), and the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI). These measured participants' anxiety.
Results indicated that participants who received mindfulness meditation benefited more. Those who participated in the intervention benefitted more than those who did not.
In the second study, score changes using the BDI calculated the effects of mindfulness meditation on anxiety. The study examined the effect of a three-week mindfulness meditation intervention. At the end of the intervention, showed improvement in BDI scores, as compared to the control group. Moreover, they also showed a significant decrease in symptoms of anxiousness.
Participants also reported changes in depressive symptoms. The mindfulness intervention showed a significant improvement in these symptoms.
One of the first things I noticed when I started practicing mindfulness is I found that I created a less stressful environment for myself at work. I started to realize that just because someone said something to me that was negative didn’t mean I had to own it and wear it the rest of the day. I could easily just let it roll off my shoulders and not accept it. I call it a basketball of anxiety and I don’t have to pay “ball” with anyone I don’t want to. I can consciously make that choice.
One of the most useful ways to practice mindfulness is to notice how you are feeling. Also, what you are thinking, and awareness of your breathing. This exercise helps you slow down and focus on the here and now. For this exercise you will need a journal or a notebook and a pen.
1. Shut off any distractions (cell phone, outside noises)
2. Take a moment to breathe in and out for three breaths
3. Notice the thoughts in your mind right now. What are you thinking about? What enters your mind without thinking about it? Write this down.
4. Ask yourself: How am I feeling right now? Try to find a feeling. If you aren't sure, or can't identify the feeling, that’s okay, just write down the words that are coming to your mind.
5. Notice your breath and how you are breathing. Is your breathing shallow? Are you breathing heavy? Try to slow down your breathing by taking three deep mindful breaths. Let your exhale be longer than your inhale.
6. Ask yourself again: How am I feeling right now?
7. Notice the thoughts in your mind again now after you've relaxed your breathing.
8. How have they changed? If they have changed write down how they changed, like a before and after.
9. If they haven’t changed, how can you consciously make changes to create a positive thought? This might mean re-phrasing what you are thinking to have a better outlook on something. The more you do this the better and easier it gets.
I would love to hear what you think about this exercise and how much change you have seen after trying it.
Blessings & Love, Jen