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  • Sara

A Personal Account About Practicing Mindfulness

Mindfulness has become a popular topic in recent years, and for good reason. The practice can improve mental health in a number of ways, allowing individuals to live their lives to the fullest. Here are some of the ways in which mindfulness can help improve overall well-being:

For starters, mindfulness can help reduce stress and anxiety. When we are mindful, we are better able to stay in the present moment and let go of worries about the future or dwell on past events. This can help calm the brain and rebalance our emotions. In addition, it can help boost our mood and improve our sleep. It can help us to be more aware of our thoughts and feelings, and this can help us to better regulate our emotions. As a result, we may feel happier and more positive overall.

The practice promotes relaxation and allows the brain to let go of racing thoughts that may keep us awake at night. With the benefit of an internal reset of sorts, it becomes easier to drift of to sleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

Mindfulness and the Brain: What Doe it Do?

Both the brain and the practice of mindfulness re always changing, and both are complex. Researchers are still trying to understand how mindfulness works, exactly. Not only do studies show that mindfulness can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as help improve sleep, concentration, and focus, but there is preliminary evidence that mindfulness might even help to lower blood pressure and improve heart health.

Why is this the case? One theory is that it helps to “rewire” the brain with regular practice, changing the way that the brain responds to stress and other emotions. With regular practice, mindfulness can help to train the brain to be more present and less reactive. This can lead to a more positive outlook on life and better overall health.

The neuroplasticity of the brain is phenomenal, and if we allow it, it will close off unhealthy neural pathways and promote healthy ones. Our minds can essentially heal themselves through mindful self-reflection. As the brain heals, so does the body, and thus, mindfulness promotes total body health and wellness.

Here is an account of one reader’s experience with mindfulness…

The bell rang, signaling the beginning of the first period. Then in came my 5th grade teacher who told us all to sit down and get ready to practice mindfulness. I remember the first time he introduced us to the concept; my young brain thought it was stupid and boring. After a while, I started to like the few minutes of peace it brought me during the busy school day. My teacher raved about mindfulness and how beneficial it is for our emotional and physical well-being. This was the first time I had ever heard of or practiced it, and after fifth grade it was a while before I tried it again.

The next time I started was when I was in high school. I had just begun therapy and my therapist taught me the benefits of mindfulness and how it could ease my symptoms of anxiety. I am a person that will stick with something for a while, and then, suddenly become bored of it and need to try something new, so maintaining any type of routine has always been somewhat difficult for me. However, I began practicing it again and I started to notice the benefits. Most of the time, I would do a body scan and breathing exercise as I laid in bed preparing for sleep. This really helped me destress and ease my anxious thoughts.

Some days my thoughts are so overwhelming I can hardly get a sentence out but taking a few minutes to focus all of my attention on my breathing or the feeling in my toes was all it took to calm me down. I’ll admit that I haven’t continued to routinely practice mindfulness throughout the years, but I hope to make it a permanent part of my everyday routine.

Self-care has always been something I have neglected first when life becomes overwhelming. If I am too busy with school or work, the first thing I do is forget about mindfulness. However, this is probably the last part of my routine I should be neglecting when things become hectic. I am aware of this and ready to give it a shot again! I remind myself of the benefits I realized before and am excited to get back to it.

If you struggle with keeping a routine like me, then setting reminders on your phone or writing down a visual schedule has really helped me hold myself accountable. If you stick with mindfulness for long enough it will become a solid part of your everyday routine, but you have to create this new habit, which can take time. My advice is to be patient with yourself, and for at least a couple weeks, make practicing mindfulness throughout your day one of your top priorities.


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