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In my office I teach mindfulness skills to my clients primarily as a way to learn to tolerate intense and uncomfortable emotions. When we are feeling discomfort, we usually resort to the coping strategy of 1) moving away from that discomfort and/or 2) seeking more pleasure.
The problem is that these coping strategies often cause more trouble in our lives than they are worth. That trouble often builds up to form the patterns of depression and anxiety.
Mindful versus Mindless strategies
In the moment these strategies we are using feel like a good idea, often we don't really understand why we are making these choices (they are MINDLESS) , but in the long run they don't resonate with who were really are.
MINDLESS choices result from a lack of awareness of your thoughts and feelings. They can cause you to behave and take action in ways that are unwise. When you take actions without awareness, it can cause undesirable consequences accross all domains of your life.
MINDLESSNESS causes us to eat that piece of cake, have that extra glass of wine, put off that difficult project, or avoid that hard conversation.
Mindfulness teaches us to become less distracted by discomfort. It helps us to focus intentionally and with awareness on what we choose. It gives us mastery over our mind and behavior. It helps us to priortize what is meaningful to us.
Mindfulness meditation helps us become comfortable with discomfort. We learn how to sit with and focus on an anchor ( our breath) and tolerate storng feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. This is one strategy I teach in my office to help with tolerating discomfort. Thus, increasing the ability to be mindful.
In therapy, mindfulness practices can help you live a life more consistent with who you want to be. It does this by helping us learn to be aware of how our uncofortable feelings influences our choices. It can lead to better choices and coping patterns. In this way mindfulness can decrease both depression and anxiety.
Other activities in mindfulness help you to focus deeply on each task in front of you and improve your performance in those tasks.
The continued struggle to accomplish more in less and less time takes a toll on our lives.
Multitasking decreases the quality of what you are doing, regardless of whether you are aware of it. In fact, multitasking is not actually possible. Your brain switches from one task to another, and you lose prescious time, and also, lose quality in the process of that switching. Mindfulness can help us break the pattern of rushing through life or focusing on worries and what is distracting us. When you focus on doing what you are doing completely, it actually gets done more thoroughly and efficiently , and you enjoy the process of doing it more.
Mindfulness can help you enjoy your moments more and experience more happiness
Addtionally, mindfulness helps us to enjoy our day to day moments, and in turn, our lives more.
Our minds are not meant to be stimulated constantly and grasping at the next best thing that catches it's attention. We often live this way ( chornically stimulated) to avoid painful thoughts and feelings, but in doing so we also miss the wonderful moments in life.
When you are completely absorbed in what you are doing, it is not possible to be worried about what you did in the past, what will happen in the future, or to be self conscious. When we live in the moment, we experience more happiness, period.
In summary... Give it a try
Learning strategies of mindfulness can help relieve stress, because it helps you stay present in the moment regardless of what is trying to distract you. Mindfulness helps you slow down, and down regulates your nervous system, also allowing you to pay more attention to the work you are doing improving the quality of each task you are doing.
Finally, it can help you learn to tolerate strong feelings, and in doing so make choices to live your life based on your values and who you want to be, rather than making choices based on avoiding those strong feelings and seeking pleasure.
Learning new mindfulness strategies can be a great way to help with your depression. Why not give it a try?
Learn about components of mindfulness
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This page is about how self-compassion and mindfulness and skills such as forgiveness, kindness and compassion can help us with depression and anxiety.