“Focus on your Breathing”: Mindfulness 101
By Live Well Teens Team
Most days, our brains are occupied with thoughts about school, work, friends, family, and all sorts of other things. However, do we ever spend some time to think about our thoughts and what is happening in our minds? Most people don’t. Spending time during the day to focus on ourselves can allow us to function better throughout the day. One of the best things you can do in your free time is practicing mindfulness. In this blog post, we will outline not only how to be mindful but also its benefits for your physical and mental health.
What is Mindfulness?
When you first think of mindfulness, the first image that comes to mind is a person sitting still and meditating. However, mindfulness is so much more than that. Mindfulness is being aware of our thoughts and feelings as they happen, and focusing our mind on the present moment. Mindfulness is a therapeutic technique, and it allows our thoughts to tune ourselves to experience the current moment instead of remembering the past or obsessing about the future.
Benefits of Mindfulness on Well-Being
Mindfulness has some immense benefits on your well-being, especially in adolescents, young adults, and even middle schoolers. It will allow you to engage better in your daily activities, and you will be able to improve your performance in almost anything. By eliminating extraneous thoughts, you can improve your focus and concentration significantly. Improving your focus can help you to earn better grades, improve your attention, and even help you learn faster. This is very important to today’s young generation, who are constantly distracted by electronic devices and screens during the time that they are awake.
Benefits of Meditation on Physical Health
One of the primary benefits of mindfulness is stress relief, which has obvious benefits. Mindfulness can calm our brain and body down, thus allowing our body to relax in this moment and not focus on distracting thoughts. In addition, mindfulness can help restore some of the gray matter in the hippocampus, cerebellum, and other regions of the brain involved in emotion regulation and logical thinking. This increased gray matter reduces stress response in the body and lessens some common symptoms associated with stress. Additionally, mindfulness can buffer some of the stress symptoms experienced, which can have therapeutic benefits on mood and feelings throughout the day.
The second benefit of mindfulness is a significant reduction in blood pressure. In fact, some doctors use mindfulness to treat hypertension. This process helps us keep a check on our emotions and state of mind throughout the day. When a person becomes mindful, they tend to make fewer mistakes, think through their actions, and make fewer poor decisions.
Another significant benefit of mindfulness is improvements in sleep. This process can help calm the hyperactivity of our brain and reduce stress levels, leading to better sleep. Practicing this for just 10 minutes a day can improve sleep quality and sleep duration. However, anyone practicing mindfulness must remember that it takes more than a few days to recognize the health benefits, and we must not expect quick results as many people want.
Benefits of Meditation on Mental Health
Depression is one of the most common mental health illnesses faced by teens. Harvard researchers found that mindfulness can train the brain to increase their capacity for awareness, and it will take time to listen to their bodies better. This can help them disengage from negative thoughts or past traumatic experiences. Learning to escape these thoughts can reduce depression symptoms and help treat depression.
In addition, mindfulness can also play a role in anxiety and alleviate some of the symptoms associated with anxiety. When someone is anxious, they are usually worried about a past event or a future event. When we practice mindfulness, it can calm the overactive brain and remove unproductive or harmful thoughts, thus bringing the mind to the present moment. This can reduce anxiety.
How to be Mindful
Ok, now that we have heard all about the benefits of mindfulness on everyone, it is time to figure out how to practice mindfulness and whether it is something you can implement in your daily lives. There are many different mindfulness techniques, and some of them will work better for certain people. We will be discussing three steps you can include in your daily lives to help become more mindful.
Being mindful is possible through three simple steps: stop, think, and act.
Step 1: Stop
Stop what you are doing and find a place to sit that is quiet and free from distraction. When you are meditating, all of your attention must be focused on the breath rather than other thoughts. Our mind is like a monkey, and it can be distracted by almost anything very quickly.
Step 2: Think
When you are thinking, you should first think about how you feel at this moment. Are you hungry, tired, or both? Is it something else that you are feeling? Unlike other things that you think about, take your time. For anything involving someone/something else, do not judge your feelings or blame yourself or that person or thing for causing you to feel this way.
Step 3: Act
Act upon what you have thought about. This can mean doing something about your feelings (actively addressing them), or ignoring your feelings (if they bother you). Doing this can help you to be calm and thus will treat stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other health problems.
Other Mindfulness Techniques
Here are some examples of other mindfulness techniques you can practice to experience the many benefits and improve your well-being.
Meditation is a simple practice that can be done anywhere and anytime. This is a relatively simple mindfulness technique, and it is one of the most powerful ways to increase awareness and declutter the brain. For this technique, just sit in your room, focus on your breathing, and become aware of your body. There are many guided meditations on the Internet, which will provide benefits within a relatively short period.
Yoga and mindfulness go hand in hand because both calm the mind and bring unity to the mind and body. Practicing yoga cultivates a deeper connection between your mind and body, allowing you to become aware of your body and breathing simultaneously. Yoga is an important mindfulness technique and has a variety of physical benefits.
In conclusion, mindfulness is an incredibly powerful technique that can be utilized to improve your physical, mental, and overall well-being.
This week, I challenge you to meditate for 5-15 minutes at least once this week and see how you feel for the rest of the week. I also challenge you to download a meditation app on your phone and try it out. Good luck, and see you next time!
Here are some examples of meditation apps you can use to put mindfulness into practice.