Mindfulness and mental health: Practical applications

May 17, 2024

Mental Health
Women enjoying the outside air

Practicing mindfulness can help you boost your mental health. Learn how to add mindfulness practices to your daily routine from Teresa Adams, therapist at Riverside Mental Health and Recovery Center.

Practicing mindfulness in daily life

There are many ways to practice mindfulness, but they all work toward the same goal: relaxing your body, being present in the current moment and enjoying life. Here are some ways to get started with mindfulness:

Basic mindfulness meditation

Find a quiet, distraction-free area to sit and focus on your breathing. You can choose a word or “mantra” to focus on and help eliminate outside distractions. “If other thoughts come up, allow them to pass calmly and concentrate on your breathing or mantra,” explains Adams.

Body sensation mindfulness

Find a quiet place to sit and pay attention to your body. Observe each body part and notice how they feel. Recognize subtle body sensations — such as tingling or itching — and allow them to pass without reacting, if possible.

Emotional mindfulness

As emotions come into your mind, practice naming each one. Use applicable words like “frustration,” “anger” or “joy” to label your feelings and reactions. Accept the emotions without judgment and allow them to pass.

Sensory mindfulness

Focus on each of the five senses — touch, sight, sound, taste and smell. Allow your body to experience each of the senses and then move to the next without judgment.

Urge surfing mindfulness

For people who deal with cravings for food, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs or other substances, urge surfing can be a helpful strategy. “When you feel a craving coming on, sit with it a moment,” observe the urge’s effect on parts of your body, notice the feelings that the craving brings.  Sit with the feelings, knowing that all feelings are acceptable.  Breathe, and notice how the craving changes over time,” suggests Adams.

Read more tips on ways to prioritize your mental health in your daily life.

Mindfulness-based treatments for anxiety and depression

Practicing mindfulness can help people who suffer from anxiety or depression. By regularly and consciously choosing to live in the moment, you can help reduce the symptoms related to these mental health conditions. Mindfulness may also help people who have had multiple depressive episodes stay healthy and avoid relapsing.

Get a handle on your mental health

If you need help improving your mental health, our experts are available. Start by speaking with your Riverside Health System primary care doctor.  If you are facing a mental health crisis, Riverside Mental Health and Recovery Center has a 24 hour Emergency Department for Mental Health needs, located at 2244 Executive Drive, Hampton, VA (757-827-3119). Or call 988 for the National Suicide Hotline to speak to a trained counselor.  If you need immediate assistance, call 911.

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