During your recovery journey, you may be encouraged to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness techniques can help you manage substance use and other mental health symptoms. It is often used as a tool for reducing stress, changing toxic self-talk, and promoting self-care. In addition, mindfulness helps you better understand yourself, others, and the world around you.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness can describe a practice, state of mind, and personality trait. It is a behavior that can be learned through yoga, meditation, breathwork, and thought exercises. To be mindful is to be thoughtful about your actions and connected emotionally to the present. In a society that begs you to move faster, be more productive, and always be one step ahead, mindfulness challenges you to slow down and take notice of the world around you. It can also help you connect to your thoughts and process your emotions, allowing you to distress, reflect, and relax.
If you don’t take the time to be mindful, you will be in autopilot mode. Detachment from life, the world, and yourself can have you running on negative energy without even realizing it. Mindfulness forces you to check in with yourself. What do you need: Physically? Emotionally? Socially? It gives you a chance to evaluate your lifestyle. Are your behaviors physically and emotionally sustainable? Does something need to change for you to live and function healthily in your daily life? Mindfulness forces you to confront emotional problems before they build up inside of you and cloud your judgment.
Studies report that people spend about 30 to 50% of waking hours reflecting on the past or worrying about the future. This makes it difficult to focus on present tasks. It gives your depression the opportunity to make you feel trapped in your past and your anxiety the chance to make your future feel bleak. Mindfulness can be practiced in your everyday life by making an active effort to focus on the sensations of your present circumstances. The more you practice mindfulness, the easier it will be to become mindful. The primary ways to practice mindfulness are through yoga and meditation.
Mindfulness meditation is the most common way to practice mindfulness. Meditation requires you to focus on an object while acknowledging and releasing your thoughts. The object of focus could be an item in the room, breath, touch, or other sensation. Mindfulness meditation can reduce stress and promote better mental and physical health.
Voice-guided meditations can help you recognize your surroundings through instruction. They can remind you to breathe and highlight sensations you may not have noticed, like the sun beating down on your skin or a soft blanket wrapped around your toes. If you struggle to stay present, voice-guided meditations can help keep you focused while building your mindfulness skills.
Yoga combines meditation practices with movement. It enhances your focus on the present by asking you to focus on how different movements affect your body. How do your muscles feel with each movement? What is your body telling you? What does it need right now? In doing so, yoga helps you connect and understand your body’s strengths and limitations. For example, during a yoga session, you might be encouraged to breathe into tense muscles or to modify movements so that they feel good for you. This means feeling and listening to your body to know what it needs.
Mindfulness can be found both in the movements, breathing techniques, and intentions set forth. Yoga helps you connect to multiple sensations simultaneously, grounding you in the present. In addition, the emphasis yoga places on your body’s needs make yoga a form of self-care. Without mindfulness, self-care is often neglected because you aren’t taking the time to notice what your body and mind need.
Mindfulness and Substance Use
There is a high association between substance use and stress, making mindfulness meditation an effective treatment for substance use disorders. Substance use disorders often stem from an inability to manage stress or other negative emotions. Substances can be used as a dangerous coping technique for distressing emotions because it allows you to avoid uncomfortable feelings.
Mindfulness promotes nonjudgemental, objective observation of thought, allowing you to create the environment you need to heal during your recovery. Not only does mindfulness force you to confront uncomfortable thoughts, but it presents a space where you can process them without becoming overwhelmed. Mindfulness can also be used to disrupt destructive behaviors associated with substance use. For instance, mindfulness can stop impulsivity because it forces you to slow down and process the intentions behind your actions.
Mindfulness can provide you with the mental space you need to heal by forcing you to slow down and reflect on your emotional state. Substance use treatments often use mindfulness practices to change harmful behaviors and cognitions. Restoration Recovery Center believes practicing mindfulness can help you develop the tools you need to manage your substance use and mental health symptoms. We offer modalities such as yoga and meditation to provide a holistic approach to your health. Our mental health professionals will work closely with you to create a treatment plan that aims to understand your complexities, play to your strengths, and meet your recovery needs. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, please call (888) 290-0925 to learn how we can help you achieve long-term sobriety through treatments that focus on the body, mind, and spirit.