Be Here Now: Five Reasons to Practice Mindfulness

Be Here Now: Five Reasons to Practice Mindfulness

Mental illness can distort your perspective of the world around you as well as how you see yourself.  Treatment for some of the more common mental illnesses, like depression and anxiety, include creative therapies, psychotherapy, and physical activities like yoga and exercise. One important practice is mindfulness, traditionally used to bring one’s focus to the present moment. Here are five reasons you should consider incorporating mindfulness practices into your life, not only to treat mental illness but to improve your everyday sense of well-being:

  1. There are no negative side effects. If you’re someone considering long-term treatment options for depression or anxiety, studying how each option will impact your lifestyle is crucial. With most pharmaceuticals, you run the risk of side effects, sometimes including addiction to the meds that were supposed to help you. Because mindfulness asks only that you focus your attention on the present moment, there are no negative side effects and no risk of addiction.
  1. You’ll notice a difference. Many people would never consider incorporating mindfulness techniques into their long-term treatment plans for depression, anxiety, or other forms of mental illness because they are skeptical it will do any good. However, the American Psychological Association notes that mindfulness practitioners report many different areas of life improvement, from decreased stress to improved cognition and less reactivity to difficult stimuli. Additionally, those who practice mindfulness worry less than those who do not.
  1. You won’t run out. Have you ever realized too late in the evening or on a weekend that your prescription has run out and you couldn’t get the meds you needed? If you incorporate mindfulness techniques into your long-term treatment plan for mental illness, you will never find yourself in this situation. Because mindfulness as a practice is a skill you can strengthen, you can always rely on it any time of the day or night.
  1. You can save money. Many businesses make money by convincing people that if only they buy the right equipment or commit to the right six-part series, they can be happy. But inner peace and true self-acceptance are outlooks that can’t be bought. They must be developed internally. Mindfulness costs nothing and the more it is practiced, the stronger the skill becomes.
  1. Mindfulness improves mental health. Harvard University points out that psychotherapists use mindfulness techniques to help patients improve issues as wide-ranging as marital problems, depression and anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive behavior. It is believed that mindfulness works by helping practitioners gain acceptance of themselves and their experiences, rather than behaving reactively or trying to avoid memories or feelings.

If you could feel better by learning a skill that has no co-pay, no negative side effects and helps a wide range of problems, wouldn’t it be worth it? Learning to practice mindfulness is a great way to improve overall well-being, whether you currently suffer from a mental illness or just want to bring more peace and calm into your life.

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About Constance Scharff PhD