More and more people are becoming aware of how important it is to seek treatment for their mental health. Populations are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of different tools, like therapy and becoming less worried about what people might think of them should they choose to seek help for their mental illness.
What many people don’t always realize is that the first step towards sound mental health may actually start from within. Meditation and mindfulness have been used for many thousands of years to combat mental health issues like anxiety and stress, and they can be instrumental in helping manage certain mental illnesses.
How Can Mindfulness Help Mental Health?
Meditation and mindfulness, while similar, are not identical. Mindfulness is a state of equanimity, of non-judgemental awareness in which things like stress, anxiety, and depression have much less of an effect on people. Meditation is the process by which one can achieve a state of mindfulness, among other things.
There are so many ways that mindfulness and meditation can influence mental health that it’d be impossible to list them all.
- Being in a mindful state allows one to approach and appreciate the present moment for what it is. This means that you won’t be anxious about the future or worried about the past.
- Meditation can bring awareness to mental health issues, traumas, and other things that could influence your state of well-being. Meditation also allows you to address these things without getting overwhelmed by the emotions.
- Meditation may give you the strength and courage needed to admit that you have a mental health problem, and to seek formal help from a counselor.
- Meditation has been proven to reduce cortisol; a hormone associated with high levels of stress. This, in turn, can reduce the impact of mental discomfort.
These are just a few of the most obvious ways in which meditation can help. You’ll probably find your own, unique improvements once you start a practice.
How to Start Being Mindful?
Starting and sticking to a mindfulness or meditation practice can be difficult. One of the most difficult things that people find is getting into a routine and sticking to it.
When you first start meditating, you may experience a mindful state that lasts for a minute – or even just a few seconds. Don’t let this discourage you: the next time you practice, you might experience it for a couple of minutes, and then a few, and eventually you will teach yourself to be mindful all the time.
If you have a smartphone, mindfulness apps can keep you from getting discouraged.
- Aura provides you with guided meditations intended to reduce levels of stress and anxiety while promoting mindfulness.
- Buddhify is a similar app that’s made for people who have busy lives. Like Aura, it provides guided meditations for helping you work through emotions like stress, for helping you fall asleep, or simply to pass the time mindfully.
Meditation and Mindfulness Are Great But…
Remember, meditation can help mental health, but if you struggle with a serious mental health problem or if you’re thinking about hurting yourself or others, there’s no substitute for therapy with a licensed counselor. Try to find a counselor in your area, or at the very least, you should be looking into different forms of therapy if you cannot afford to see a counselor in person.
Written by Eric Silver.
Photo credits: Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash
This is a collaborative post supporting our Peace In Peace Out initiative.