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Mindfulness and Mental Health

 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), in the U.S., roughly 18 percent of adults and 25 percent of children between 13 and 18 years old suffer from an anxiety disorder. As mental illness reaches epidemic proportions, innovative solutions and effective treatment options are required. 

Mindfulness can be a powerful tool in dealing with various mental health challenges and symptoms. Beyond breathing exercises, mindfulness means being fully aware of the body and mind. This helps in assessing intrusive thoughts and emotional reactions.
By working with a therapist who specializes in mindfulness-based therapy, you may receive positive therapeutic benefits at a faster rate. Here are a few areas where mindfulness treatment can improve mental health. 

Stress and anxiety 

Studies have shown that mindfulness therapy is an effective solution for stress management. The approach works through a focused relaxing of the body and mind during and after stressful events. Mindfulness practices alleviate anxiety by focusing on your present state, rather than worries about the future or other destructive ruminations.
 

Chronic pain 

More than a billion people around the world suffer from some form of chronic pain, which can seriously affect mental well-being. Mindfulness makes daily trials with chronic pain more manageable, and allows the mind to observe the pain objectively and accept the sensation’s role in one’s life. Therapy that incorporates mindfulness can increase quality of life by providing an increased level of mental relief for chronic pain.
 

Depression 

Mindfulness leads to better control over emotions, which can be beneficial for coping with depression. The practice allows people to be present in the moment, rather than sinking into the black hole of negative thoughts, rejection and self-criticism. This awareness ensures a more holistic response to any situation without being caught up in overwhelming or negative emotions.
 

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) 

OCD introduces a constant storm of intrusive thoughts and compulsions. This often leads to disruptive, ritualistic behaviors or the inability to leave the house due to irrational thought patterns around disastrous scenarios. Mindfulness therapy can help those who live with OCD achieve peace through a clearer mind. A therapist can teach clients with OCD to respond with mindfulness techniques when their thoughts or compulsions impede one’s ability to feel in control of a situation.
 

Substance abuse and addiction 

The desire to avoid pain and discomfort is sometimes a component of substance abuse and potential relapse. These actions arise from a need to continuously experience stimuli that provide a pleasurable feeling. Substance abuse and addiction negatively affect mental health by tying compulsions to detrimental desires. Practicing mindfulness helps create awareness around the root of these desires, and the ability to feel negative emotions without judgment. Focusing on the available freedom to make the right choice in each moment helps reduce cravings that lead to destructive behaviors. Rather than avoiding issues behind addiction, mindfulness encourages inquiry into specific thoughts and feelings. 

 

Mindfulness as a solution 

While mindfulness might seem unconventional, it’s an increasingly accepted method of achieving a healthier mind. Therapists who teach mindfulness techniques to their clients do so to help them cope with mental health challenges and strive for a sense of peace. If the concept of mindfulness appeals to you, consider connecting with a professional therapist who can aid you in its practice, providing a beneficial boost on your mental health journey. 

 

This article originally appeared on the Talkspace Blog. Talkspace is an online therapy platform that connects individual users and a network of 3,000-plus licensed therapists through an easy-to-use and HIPAA-compliant web and mobile platform. For more information, visit talkspace.com. 

 

By // Faith Onimiya, Talkspace 

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