What Is Mindfulness and What Are Its Benefits?
Updated: Feb 4
The mind is an excellent tool for planning and problem-solving, but it's not so great at settling down and connecting with the here and now. For most people, the mind is swirling with thoughts, getting pulled in a million different directions—planning for the future, contemplating the past, getting caught up in narratives, or bouncing between what seems like a million tasks. Needless to say, these behaviors can result in considerable stress and anxiety, and cause you to miss out on beautiful moments right in front of you. Fortunately, there's a simple (but not always easy) practice that can train your attention to focus more on the present moment. It's called mindfulness. In this article, we'll be discussing the benefits of mindfulness, but first, let's cover some basics.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness involves gently focusing your awareness on the present moment. It means observing your bodily sensations, feelings, thoughts, and environment in the here and now with an attitude of acceptance and detached curiosity. When your attention wanders away from the present (which it will), simply bring it back to something in the present moment, whether it's a feeling you're experiencing or the sensation of water on your hands as you wash the dishes. Keep bringing your attention back to the present moment over and over. With practice and patience, your time spent in the present will drastically increase.
What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness?
In a review of more than 400 studies, mindfulness was found to be an effective mental health practice that helped almost all study participants improve their physical and psychological well-being. What specific benefits can you expect from this practice? Let's take a look.
#1: Improved Mental Health
Mindfulness has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety, both as part of a treatment plan and as a stand-alone practice.[*][*] Seeing as anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental disorder in the U.S. and depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide, mindfulness is something countless people could benefit from.[*][*]
#2: Improved Physical Health
The mind and the body are connected. If you calm your mind, your body will experience benefits as a result. Case in point, studies have shown that regularly practicing mindfulness can reduce blood pressure, chronic pain, and fatigue, and improve sleep and digestive disorders.[*][*]
#3: Improved Cognition
Evidence suggests that mindfulness can help people think flexibly and clearly.[*] This makes sense if you think about it, as the practice centers around learning to be more aware of your thoughts without judging them. Mindfulness has also been shown to induce changes in the brain that improve short-term memory.[*]
#4: Improved Relationships
Emerging evidence suggests that practicing mindfulness may positively impact a person's interpersonal relationships. One study found that people who were more mindful also tended to be more accepting of their partner's flaws and imperfections.[*] In turn, this acceptance tends to lead to greater satisfaction in relationships.
Improve Your Mindfulness with Neurodiverse Counseling
If you're looking to improve your mindfulness or address other mental health issues, consider working with Neurodiverse Counseling, a psychotherapy practice in Back Bay.
We provide support for children, adolescents, and adults of all backgrounds to help them make positive changes in their lives, overcome difficult barriers, and discover their happiest and most authentic selves.