Mindfulness based treatment for anxiety and depression is effective in reducing both the cognitive and physical symptoms associated with these two mood states. Mindfulness practice involves a process of relaxation and focus, targeted at reducing internal and external stressors, noise and anxiety provoking thoughts. Mindfulness involves focusing on the present, allowing the mind to wander, performing breathing techniques, becoming aware of body sensations and deep relaxation or yoga.
For example, if you are feeling overwhelmed by either anxious or depressive thoughts, it can be helpful to take a few deep breaths for a period of five minutes. Closing your eyes, breath deeply enough that you belly fills with air and then collapse as you breath out. As you breath deeply the air touches the areas where we hold a lot of tension in our body – our chest and stomach – and so relaxing these areas will help send signals to your brain that you are making efforts to calm your body down physically which often triggers your thoughts (cognitions) to slow down in turn.
Mindfulness techniques can be incorporated into daily life with limited time and skill commitments.
The psychological and therapeutic basis for mindfulness training is aimed at changing thought patterns and coping strategies. Experiential mindfulness and relaxation techniques encourage clients to pay attention to sensations rather than thoughts.
Mindfulness meditation has been integrated into depression treatment and studies show it may reduce the relapse rate of current depression interventions. Mindfulness and CBT interventions can be used to reframe the clients thought processes, thereby reducing negative thinking patterns and beliefs.
There is significant evidence to suggest that mindfulness practices may change the brains physiology and neural pathways over time. With continued meditation and practice, individuals who practice mindfulness may experience greater resiliency to self evaluations, negative self perceptions and relapses of depression.
Whether or not you suffer from depression, anxiety, stress or excessive worry, mindfulness practices can be incorporated into daily life to encourage living in the present, focusing on body sensations and encouraging deep relaxation at both emotional and physical levels.
Lu, Stacy. (2015). “Mindfulness holds promise for treating depression”. Monitor on Psychology. APA. Pp: 50-52.
Lu, Stacy. (2015). “Mindfulness and mood disorders in the brain”. Monitor on Psychology. APA. Pp: 55, 1 pg.
Article written by Stacie Courtney-Mustaphi, Bach.Soc.Sci, MA Candidate MFT. Under the supervision of Cassandra Petrella, MA.