Did you know that the search for the word “mindfulness” has increased by 69% over the past six years? But, do you know what mindfulness is?
To put it simply, it is the act of being fully aware of the moment you’re in. Stick around to find out how mindfulness has been incorporated in what is now called ‘Mindful Therapy’ and how it’s helping patients worldwide monitor their thoughts and correct them if necessary.
Let’s dive right into it.
What Is Mindful Therapy?
Mindful Therapy can be defined as a type of therapy that allows patients to pay close attention to their emotions and, if possible, rectify them. It is focused on the broader philosophy of mindfulness.
Let’s take a real-life scenario to explain the concept of mindfulness. Consider this — you’re doing the dishes and at the same time listening to the kids playing in the hall. You can also imagine yourself driving to work, listening to the radio and still managing to plan your day and your weekend.
Do you sometimes wonder why it is so hard to live in the present? Often, we become so involved in completing important tasks (such as doing the dishes or driving or making plans), that we completely disconnect from how we feel and what else is going on around us — the kids playing or the radio that’s on.
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Basically, mindful therapy is intentionally focusing your attention on the present moment. This way, you become more aware of what’s happening around you without a sense of detachment or judgment.
From a therapeutic point of view, mindful therapy is a deliberate perception of the current moment. It is sometimes used in conjunction with other forms of therapy, such as Cognitive-Based Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT).
Mindful therapy focuses more on being aware of our thoughts, actions, and feelings and less on relaxation. It takes a step beyond simple meditation as it is used to bring about our holistic growth by taking control of ourselves.
Mental Health Benefits Of Mindfulness Therapy
Many researchers have looked into the benefits of mindfulness therapy not just for patients but for each segment of the general population i.e. in our day-to-day activities.
Mindfulness therapy causes positive outcomes on mental health, such as improved mood, stress reduction, etc. Here we talk about some of these benefits in length:
Mindful therapy can assist individuals who are recovering from an accident or disease. Scientists looked at how meditation affected the recovery of disabled athletes.
Two athletes who exercised mindful therapy twice a week for three straight months benefited from it, according to the researchers. This increased their pain tolerance and allowed them to heal more quickly compared to others that did not practice mindful therapy.
Mindful therapy is also helpful for people suffering from alcohol or opioid addiction. When anyone detoxes from addictive medications, they know that they were drinking or doing drugs in the first place. They can use mindful therapy to relax their minds and fight the temptation to use opioids.
Mindful therapy can also aid in the prevention of alcoholism. According to studies, people who perform mindfulness meditation are less likely to suffer from alcohol-related depression. Also, they’ll be able to effectively resist the temptation, and ultimately the compulsion, to drink regularly.
As I’ve hinted above, this method is used in addiction recovery services. It can help avoid relapse by increasing understanding of impulses and causes. Moreover, it offers opportunities to deal with uncomfortable emotions without responding to the pain.
We’re in the twenty-first century and depression has never seen such numbers. It’s fair to say that we’re in the midst of a depression crisis.
Depression is diagnosed in around half of the people who see a doctor, and this number has increased in the last two decades. Some speculate that this is due to overdiagnosis or a commercial drive to promote pharmaceutical products. Others see the population as spiritual bankruptcy. Whatever the moniker, depression is a serious problem that causes real suffering.
Mindfulness has proven to be an effective adjunctive therapy for depression. It helps people control their emotions which reduces depressive symptoms. It enables them to take a step back from their lethargic mindset, recognize what’s happening, and embrace rather than contest their feelings. Even the most severe symptoms of depression, such as suicidal impulses, have been attenuated by mindful therapy.
Increased awareness encourages a happy life. Being mindful allows you to enjoy the rewards of living as they happen and cope more effectively with negative events.
Your mind is a huge beneficiary of mindfulness. Some of these benefits include enhanced visuospatial processing, executive functioning, and working memory. Besides, it also reduces stress and fatigue.
People practicing mindfulness notice that by reflecting on the present moment, they become less prone to fears about the future or concerns about the past. They also become less worried about achievements and self-esteem and are able to develop deeper bonds with others.
When you practice mindful therapy on a daily basis, you will notice that certain aspects of your life, including your professional life, will change.
Your brain is trained to be more efficient as you practice mindfulness. It improves your focus and emphasis on the task at hand, which are beneficial to your efficiency.
Many individuals suggest that mindful therapy increases their imagination and that they have gotten better at solving problems as a result of their calmer state. Both of these characteristics are beneficial in the workplace, especially for students. You’ll notice that your memory improves too and that you’re less likely to burn out.
Since you become more patient, you will soon be making smarter choices. It will even help you feel better about yourself. When people practice mindful therapy, their morale improves because intrusive emotions are quieted. It also aids them in establishing a feeling of purpose. When they reach into their inner passions and discover what really makes them happy, many people advance in their careers or change occupations altogether.
Apart from the abovementioned mental benefits of mindfulness therapy, did you know that your body can benefit from it too?
Better sleep, decreased blood pressure, increased heart conditioning, less inflammation, and less stomach discomfort are also benefits of mindfulness therapy.
Mindful therapy actually has a healing effect on the body by relaxing your muscles. Cortisol, a stress hormone in your body that normally leads to muscle tension, gets reduced by consciously concentrating on the current moment.
Stress-related disorders, such as migraines, arthritis, ulcers, and depression can be avoided by lowering cortisol levels. Besides, serotonin levels can be increased by mindful therapy.
Serotonin is a naturally occurring chemical released by nerve fibers that acts as a mood stabilizer.
Chronic illness, cognitive loss, and the immune response can all benefit from mindful therapy. It will help with arthritis, eating disorders, and even your sexual life.
How Is Mindfulness Used In Therapy?
As part of an adaptive therapy plan, mindfulness is frequently combined into certain treatment interventions. Different forms of such therapy have been devised to cater to varied needs of modern life. Let’s take a look.
Mindfulness Therapy For Professional Ethics And Performance
Mindfulness has been very beneficial at workplaces, as it allows individuals to help distance themselves from negative feelings, desires, and physical stimuli, even when they become overwhelming at work.
In some cases, both employer and employee may opt for mindful therapy in order to improve focus at work and increase productivity. Those who can reach this level of understanding can find it helpful to use other behavioral interventions to overcome any potentially dangerous cognitions and avoid negative consequences.
Over time, regular mindful therapy aids in building work ethics, relationships with fellow colleagues, personal wisdom, and emotional recovery. Mindfulness-based approaches could be employed to resolve and mitigate a variety of diseases and problems, with the goal of reducing fatigue, mental health issues, and physical discomfort.
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Mindfulness Therapy For Treating Depression
ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), MBCT (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy), and DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) are all effective in combating depression at different stages. Each one blends mindfulness with the skills of analyzing, dissecting, accepting, and selecting alternate behaviors.
Clinicians understand how difficult it is for suicidal people to regulate their emotions. These are some of DBT’s advantages as it places a strong emphasis on honing this capacity.
What if, on the other hand, the patient’s reactions might become more adaptable? These patients benefit greatly from using breathing and muscle relaxation techniques.
Recurrent depression, psychosis, anxiety, diet and food disorders, panic attacks, bipolar disorders, mental retardation, and post-traumatic stress disorder all benefit greatly from mindfulness therapy.
Mindfulness Therapy For Treating Anxiety
Studies from licensed mental health facilities show that mindfulness is efficient in reducing anxiety. This is a stated fact from several researchers who reported that mindful therapy meaningfully suppressed anxiety.
Both mild and extreme anxiety can heighten stress levels, which deteriorates the mental health of the individual involved. Mindfulness reduces the stress response and impacts two distinct stress pathways in the brain. This in turn influences the structure and activity in the regions of the brain that are responsible for attention and emotion regulation.
Mindfulness Therapy For Couples
Couples will benefit from the same fundamentals of mindfulness that apply to individuals. Practicing mindfulness alongside your mate grooves an emotional bond and has an uplifting impact on the relationship.
There’s also the advantage of interacting with someone who’s not a stranger and who understands you. You’ll have the opportunity to witness each other’s healing and development, which will again strengthen the relationship.
How should you go about doing this? MBRE aka Mindfulness-Based Relationship Enhancement enumerates certain techniques that will form a part of mindfulness therapy for couples. It includes:
- Acceptance — Increases compassion and empathy towards your partner
- Relaxation — Enhances well-being and imparts clarity of thought and words
- Self-broadening — Increases trust, love, and connection between partners
Mindfulness Therapy For Insomnia Treatment
If you are suffering from a sleeping disorder or you find it extremely difficult to sleep, employing mindful therapy can help you, no matter if you are young, adult or elderly.
This can be achieved by subjecting patients to MAPs intervention or sleep hygiene training. Research from licensed mental health facilities has stated that this method can be used to treat insomnia.
These interventions can yield positive effects by improving both the quantity and quality of sleep. This is fantastic news for those in need of a decent night’s sleep as poor sleep may result in several health problems, such as headache, heartache, and an increase in stress level.
What Is Mindfulness Group Therapy?
As social beings, we’ve learned to communicate and exchange our ideas and values with those who can lend us a patient ear. We don’t have to be alone to be conscious.
Although mindful therapy can be learned from books, applications, videos, and audio, there are moments when learning in a social environment is more beneficial. The growing popularity of mindfulness therapy over the past two decades has led to individuals communicating with those that are following a similar path to form a group.
These mindful therapy groups are available in workplaces, gyms, healthcare facilities, and even restaurants and cafes.
Six Mindful Therapy Group Activities You Can Do
Mindfulness exercises can be used in solo or group setups. However, when used in a group, peer influence and social interaction are factored in, and this may yield distinct and potentially more substantial outcomes.
The following methods help keep mindful therapy group setups on track.
Individual objectives of those in the group should be recognized and matched with the group’s goals. Goals may be briefly discussed (if the participants permit), providing practical ideas and topics for debate. Otherwise, keep the targets confidential and exclude all personal information before sharing them with the group.
Meditation concepts should be introduced carefully in mindful therapy groups that have new participants. This will help them become familiar with the idea of practicing meditation in a room with other people in it. They possibly may have only practiced alone before, or they may be a novice to the whole idea of how the system works; everyone deserves a comfortable welcome, don’t they?
Start things on a simple note — concentrate awareness on the body and breath. Teach the group how to listen and observe their thoughts gently and respectfully while monitoring their emotions, attitudes, and physical experiences.
Mostly, we are ignorant of the power in the air we take in. Our capacity to concentrate, feel, hear, and be mindful can all be improved by paying close attention to our breathing.
Pick a partner within the mindful therapy group and carry out this exercise in pairs.
- Sit and face each other, firstly with your eyes closed, and later with your eyes wide open
- While sitting and facing each other, concentrate on your partner’s breathing
- Control your breath to coincide with theirs
This practice improves our mindfulness and helps us establish intimate relationships and break down barriers.
Contrary to popular belief, ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’ aren’t the same thing, the latter being more important than the former. We hear more than we listen. This seems to be a significant problem for all individuals.
In a mindful therapy group, it is imperative that we pay attention to what is being shared to benefit from each other, create close relationships, and understand where we stand or what we’ve been through.
Group members can be asked to carefully listen to what others have to say in this exercise. This instills empathy in the individuals.
Single-tasking As A Means Of Cultivating Mindfulness
As GenZ-ers, we actively multitask throughout our hectic modern lives, even though we might not be good at it. Consequently, we always live in a confusing present, and things that ought to attract our full attention do not.
Multitasking is a constant technique of moving one’s focus from one thing to another. It mainly occurs when we are unable to focus on a particular mission completely but may be necessary at times. Listening to your teacher and jotting down notes is one of several instances where tasks must be completed simultaneously.
When the mindful therapy group participates in this exercise, they will be handed one or more mental tasks to perform simultaneously. After that, the group discusses the challenges they encountered before sharing tips on how to single-task effectively in everyday life.
This is beneficial to group members who are having trouble focusing on a static exercise like body-scan rumination.
Audio can be used in this exercise, which will direct and lead you through a series of motions that you can do slowly while concentrating on your breath and the sensation that comes with it.
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Is Mindfulness Therapy Right For You?
Being mindful on a constant basis is not easy but practice can help. Consider the time investment, safety of the exercises in conjunction with your present health challenges if any, and whether you’d want to do it alone, with a partner or in a mindful therapy group. What’s stopping you from getting started or, if you’ve already begun, what’s your experience been like? Let me know in the comments!