Mental Wellness in 2014: The Benefits of Mindfulness

Welcome to the New Year, where endless possibilities lie before us. The New Year brings us hope of a better year, one where the promises or resolutions of years past are actually accomplished and we become the best versions of ourselves (or at least well on our way to getting there).

While each year usually starts out the same way with resolutions abound and hopes high, it’s all too often that we slowly begin to let the goals fall further and further out of reach. Sometimes we end up going in the complete opposite direction from where we hoped to end up; 2014 doesn’t have to be one of those years. And with wellness and mindfulness growing in popularity over the course of 2013, this may be the perfect year to capitalize on the trend.

Mindful living is quite simply being aware. In today's more-than-ever busy world, we're distracted; we almost have to multitask to completely get through the day's tasks. Mindfulness is allowing yourself to be receptive to what you're experiencing, in that moment. Since you are allowing yourself to become aware of the present moment, you can better connect with yourself, your thoughts and emotions, as well as other people around you. 

The Benefits of Mindfulness:

There are a wealth of benefits you will experience from practicing living a mindful life. Being mindful can ultimately enhance your overall wellness, often aiding those suffering from mental struggles such as anxiety or depression, which can subsequently influence your physical health, reducing stress, blood pressure and more.

  • As you become mindful of your experiences, you will discover how certain situations make you feel, whether the feelings are positive or negative. You will also be able to evaluate those feelings without judgment before behaving irrationally.
  • By focusing on the present, you will find it easier to take joy in life's pleasures as they occur. You'll experience them in a new way, void of distraction and negative thoughts.

  • When in a mindful state, you’re enhancing your quality of life by focusing on the present not letting yourself get fully caught up with the stress and worry of the future, or the resentment and regret of the past.

How to Begin Practicing Mindfulness:

There are many techniques you can practice to begin gearing your mind toward a mindful state. One way to accomplish this is by practicing mindfulness meditation. It is often suggested to start by focusing your attention on your breathing and the sensation of it. Next, allow your thoughts and feelings to come and go as they normally would, but be aware of them; view and experience them without judging them as good or bad.

The tricky part is sticking with it. You must pay attention to your surroundings without getting caught up in any one of your senses (e.g. sound, touch, sight). You’ll begin to be able to differentiate what experiences make you feel at ease and which cause a form of suffering. As you become more comfortable with the process, you will also become more self-aware and accepting of experience that may have previously bothered you – you’re on the road toward an enhanced quality of life and happiness!

Overall, the key is to remember that the path to mindfulness, like any other journey, requires patience. You won’t be able to achieve it right away, but the benefits are worth the time and energy to get there. There are plenty of videos and articles online (like the one below) that can help walk you through basic techniques, and if it helps to join a group class or workshop, you can embark on a wellness journey with others! View our Calendar of Workshops for 2014 to let us help you on your health and wellness journey this year.

 

Learn more exercises you can try to achieve a state of mindfulness at HelpGuide.org.

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