Mindfulness is a concept many people are aware of but have trouble practicing. Others simply don’t know where to begin. Being mindful can have a profound effect on your mental health, and family therapist Colleen Torrence, Med, LPC of Juneau, AK, advises that there are many ways to attain it. By properly understanding what it is, as well as how to achieve it, you can reap the immediate benefits to your mood and well-being.
What Is Mindfulness?
On a day-to-day basis, many people live most of their lives inside their own heads. Whether it’s planning or dealing with stress, they remain on “autopilot,” never realizing what’s going on around them. Mindfulness focuses on paying attention and setting aside preoccupations. You focus on how your body feels, become aware of your thoughts but not absorbed in them, and most importantly, see the details of your environment. This also includes being present. By setting aside past or future worries, you can focus on what’s most important in the moment without judging your responses to stimuli.
What Are the Benefits?
One of the key benefits of being mindful is reducing stress. By alleviating yourself of future worries—such as a big presentation at work tomorrow—or past regrets, you’ll better manage yourself in the moment and reduce stress. This is also helpful for reducing anxiety, depression, and similar issues you’d usually see a family therapist for, as you’ll develop a better sense of yourself. Because you’re thinking non-judgmentally, you’ll also be less prone to negative thoughts and will appreciate the good things you usually miss, all of which can improve mood.
How Can I Achieve It?
Achieving mindfulness takes practice and patience. Start small—next time you’re on a walk or at an event, pay attention to what people are saying without judging them. Also, begin to look at familiar things differently. When you’re on “autopilot,” you see everything the same each day. Looking with fresh eyes will help you see things you’ve missed. Paying attention to your breath is also important for anchoring yourself in the moment. Focus on each inhale and exhale. It takes practice, but you’ll learn to calm yourself and escape problematic thoughts.
For more advice and guidance, as well as comprehensive therapy services, turn to Colleen Torrence, Med, LPC. As a family therapist, she has extensive experience with a variety of issues, including trauma and abuse counseling. She can help children, adolescents, and adults and will build a specialized plan to help you overcome your issues. Call (907) 789-9212 today to schedule an appointment and visit her website and Facebook page to learn more about the services a family therapist can provide. You can also explore these resources by Dan Siegel, MD and Ron Siegel, PsyD to get started with mindfulness.