Despite being common, depression can also be a persistent and dangerous mental condition.
People with depression face significant challenges, including the risk of cardiovascular diseases and death. The condition is also associated with long-term trauma and even suicidal thoughts.
While antidepressants are standard medications worldwide, they aren’t always effective.
According to research published by the National Library of Medicine, once you have suffered from severe depression, you may relapse even while on antidepressants.
In an effort to find natural alternatives and shift the weight away from conventional medications, experts are now looking into mindfulness to treat depression and anxiety.
What is Mindfulness?
It’s easy to look at mindfulness and assume it’s a load of pointless kumbaya. After all, many dismiss this form of therapy before finding out what it’s all about.
That said, what is mindfulness, and how does it work?
Mindfulness is a mental exercise that teaches you to remain present and focus on your senses. It’s a form of meditation that aims to keep you grounded in the present and maintain control of your thoughts and feelings.
How Mindfulness Treats Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety can be serious enough to make your life miserable. The two conditions feed on negative thoughts, and the more you allow these thoughts to overwhelm you, the worse things get.
Mindfulness aims to dismantle these negative thoughts and make you see them as just thoughts rather than commands that you have to obey.
The therapy is all about loosening the grip of negativity on your mind and reclaiming control of your thoughts and feelings.
Today, one of the most effective treatments for anxiety and depression is a therapeutic system created by experts and based on mindfulness. This system is known as Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).
The mindfulness aspect of the therapy focuses on teaching you how to feel positive and recognize your feelings, while cognitive therapy helps you deal with those feelings. In general, MBCT is designed to assist you in combating the thoughts taking hold of your life.
Apart from MBCT, there are other similar techniques like:
- Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)
- Mindfulness-based art therapy (MBAT)
- Body scan meditation
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Loving-kindness meditation
- Observing-thought meditation
How to Practice Mindfulness
1. Get Comfortable
It’s often helpful to sit down when first learning meditation, but if you feel better standing up or lying down, that works, too.
Most of the time, the settings make a difference. You’ll need to practice in places you feel most at peace.
Some people love serene places like parks or river beds. Others may prefer the comfort of their homes.
The key is to feel comfortable and relaxed.
2. Manage Your Breathing
You want to close your eyes and take slow deep breaths.
Focus on your breathing momentum and notice how it feels to inhale and exhale. Get comfort in noticing how your body calms down.
Shift your attention from your breath to your body, which is known as Body Scan.
3. Accept Depressive Thoughts
You don’t have to try so hard to escape depressive thoughts. Accept depressive thoughts using the RAIN mindful technique.
- Recognize the strong upsetting emotions
- Accept that these emotions exist without being judgmental
- Investigate how they make you feel while thinking about how to positively react to them.
- Non-identify with the negative emotions by relying on self-analysis
The RAIN technique and Body Scan are effective when you remain calm and can address the depressive and anxious thoughts without being reactive.
If you find it hard to focus, you can try a mantra that will always bring you back whenever your mind wanders.
4. Enhance the Experience
Using other means to boost mindfulness therapy is pretty common. Things like herbal teas and aromatherapy can be quite helpful.
However, marijuana forms the best combo with mindfulness exercises compared to any other method. The two have been used hand-in-hand to boost mental clarity and overall wellness for thousands of years.
Veriheal goes deeper into cannabis and mindfulness in one of their posts. You may want to check that out.
There is no particular cure for depression besides the various methods that help you combat the condition yourself.
By adding mindfulness into your treatment strategy, you give yourself better chances of quick and complete recovery. The last thing you want is to depend solely on medications to beat anxiety and depression.