Mindfulness is a way to practice paying full attention to the present moment. Doing this can help you improve the symptoms of depression. But, of course, when you’re suffering from a mental illness it can be tough to practice mindfulness for depression.
Benefits of mindfulness for depression
Focusing on the here and now can help individuals that suffer from depression become more aware of their negative thoughts as well as help them fight the negative thoughts. When you’re suffering from depression, it can be tough to judge the thoughts you have: negative thoughts will always sound like the truth, even though they’re not. Distorted thoughts like ‘’I’m a terrible person’’ and ‘’I can’t do anything right’’ will hold less weight when mindfulness is practised.
According to a pretty recent study, mindfulness can have the same type of impact as antidepressants without any evidence of harmful effects. “It’s a sort of mental training. It’s about training the mind so people can see negative thoughts, negative feelings- the early signs of a depressive relapse- and learn the skills to respond to those in a way that makes them more resilient”, says Professor Kuyken, an Oxford University clinical psychologist and director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, about the study.
Professor Kuyken stressed that while mindfulness may share a “lineage” with Buddhism and other “contemplative traditions”, the way it was used in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy was “entirely secular.” In short: it is a tried and test spiritual practice.
Mindfulness for Depression Exercises
One of the easiest things you can do at home to practice mindfulness is to practice mindful meditation on a regular basis. Carve out ten, five or even two minutes a day to meditate. Sit in a comfortable position and focus attention on your physical sensations, such as your body and your breath. If your mind wanders, don’t feel like you’ve failed. A wandering mind is completely normal. Just refocus your attention on your breath.
As time goes on and you get into the habit of mindful meditation, you’ll notice it becomes easier to stay at the moment. This is where you’ll notice you will get better and being mindful in other parts of your life as well.
Mindfulness exercises in daily activities
The great thing about practising mindfulness is that you can practice it everywhere, at any time. Whether you’re taking a shower, eating breakfast or sitting in your office, you can always take a time to practice some mindfulness. This becomes your strongest support when you are attacked by negative thing or excessive random thoughts. As one mindful breath can break the stream and losen it’s power, making it easier to ease up depression with one mindful breath at a time.
Practising mindfulness for depression during daily activities is as simple as just focusing on physical sensations while you’re out and about. It’s like a mini meditation as you go about your day. Personally, I like to practice mindfulness when I ride my bike to work or when I’m eating. I slow down and really try to pay attention to the texture, smell and taste of the food.
Another option is to take a walk, specifically for the purpose to practice mindfulness. This will also improve your stamina because walking is a form of exercise. Of course, exercise is known to elevate symptoms of depression, so you’re getting the best of both worlds.
Mindfulness and Anxiety
Those who suffer from depression often suffer from some form of anxiety also. Anxiety can be very isolating, which only strengthens the depression. When an individual is feeling anxious about a certain event that is taking place in the future, practising mindfulness to help ease that anxiety can be helpful.
When you feel the anxiety or panic attack coming up, try becoming mindful about your breathing by focusing on it as much as you can. Take deep breaths and close your eyes if possible. For some people that suffer from anxiety, they need a guided meditation because simply focusing on their breath isn’t enough. Soft music can also help.
Watch: The Mindful Way Through Depression: Zindel Segal at TEDxUTSC
Read: The Mindful Way Through Depression by Mark Williams and Zindel Segal.
Practice: Mindful meditation
Music: Mindful music.