How Mindfulness Helps in Recovery and Mental Health

Being mindful and staying in the present moment can be a game-changer for those recovering from addiction and/or managing mental health issues.

Those in recovery are often guilt-ridden about their past and anxious about their future, but by focusing on the “here and now,” as is characteristic of mindfulness, they can learn to put those negative emotions aside in support of a lasting recovery. For those experiencing mental health issues, using mindful techniques such as controlled breathing and meditation can help reduce stress and improve emotional balance.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a cognitive skill that is characterized by being fully present and aware of your current thoughts, emotions, physical condition, and surroundings. It has been shown to be effective as a meditation technique, calming the mind and the body and having a positive effect on mental and physical health.

In practicing mindfulness, individuals improve their mental outlook by taking note of the smallest details in their surroundings and engaging all their senses to do so. On a walk through your neighborhood, for instance, you might observe the visual variety of the foliage, the sound of birdsong, the smell of a freshly cut lawn, or the feeling of the sunshine on your face.

You can practice mindfulness anytime and anywhere. Below are some suggestions for using mindfulness to help overcome obstacles that are thwarting you from reaching your recovery and/or mental health goals.

Mindfulness in Addiction Recovery

The immersive environment of a quality rehab center such as Beachside Rehab is conducive to the “living in the now” quality of mindfulness. While in rehab, individuals are focused singularly on one thing: their recovery. They are discouraged from living in the past, since that often leads to feelings of shame, guilt, or regret that serve no useful purpose. Instead, they are encouraged to concentrate on the steps that will facilitate their recovery every day with the goal of building a better foundation for their future.

Being mindful helps recovering individuals become more attuned to their thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. With enhanced self-awareness, they are more likely to recognize the triggers or cravings that cause their addictive behaviors, prompting them to seek help before they can act upon their cravings. As they continue to practice mindfulness, they may gain the ability to self-regulate and suppress those cravings on their own.

Using mindfulness under the guidance of licensed therapists in a rehab setting can be particularly effective for those who have yet to tap fully into their mind’s ability to overcome their substance dependence.

Mindfulness to Reduce Stress

Mindfulness has been proven to be an excellent technique for reducing stress and anxiety, which is beneficial not only to mental health but to physical health as well. Studies have that mindful meditation can help lower blood pressure, slow heart rates, and improve sleep.

The practice is also associated with a greater sense of calm, which can keep those who are prone to stress and worry from using drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. If their anxiety issues have led to an addiction, mindfulness can serve the dual purpose of helping them overcome it and treating the underlying cause that is driving it.

Mindful Meditation

By using mindful meditation, individuals become more relaxed and in tune with their body and emotions. Begin by choosing a quiet place where you can sit comfortably with your feet on the floor. You can practice mindful meditation anywhere, indoors or out, but outdoors might be better because of the calming effects of nature.

  • Close your eyes. Focus on your breathing. An effective breathing technique is 4-7-8, where you breathe in for four counts, hold your breath for seven counts, and then exhale as you count to eight. As you breathe in and out, feel yourself becoming calmer. If stressful thoughts enter your mind, acknowledge them before focusing again on your breathing.
  • Open your eyes. Take note of your emotions, your thoughts, your surroundings, and your body. Acknowledge these sensations, and then resume your day. The beauty of mindful meditation is it can last for however long your schedule permits—five minutes, 10 minutes, or even longer—and you can do it once or several times per day.

Finding Appreciation

For individuals in recovery or struggling with mental health concerns, mindfulness can help them find appreciation for the simpler things in life. Gaining enjoyment from walking in nature, listening to music, or looking at a fine piece of art is a much healthier, less destructive outlet than using drugs or alcohol. Opening one’s eyes to the pleasures of the world can reduce stress and anxiety and lead to improved mental health.

Beachside Rehab in West Palm Beach, Florida, takes a holistic approach to addiction recovery that uses the principles of mindfulness. Contact our trained admissions counselors at 866-349-1770 to discuss how we can help.

Photo by Explore with Joshua on Unsplash