May is Mental Health Awareness month and we continue to guide you to be your happiest self. Mindfulness and meditation are two practices that anyone can use to improve their mood and outlook. Keep reading for tips, and commit to trying each method for your mental health this month!
Meditation for your mental health
Even when your mental health is stable, everyone has stress. Meditation can be an easy way to introduce yourself to self-care when you’re not used to taking time for yourself and need help relaxing and unplugging. Meditation is an ancient practice rooted in spiritual tradition, but meditation for your mental health doesn’t need to involve your spirituality. The techniques of focusing your attention and awareness are applied to relaxation and positive thoughts to improve your mood.
Meditation is best used as a consistent practice, but when you’re just getting started try a short, guided meditation. Try it before a stressful event or before going to bed to help you relax. Start with five minutes and see if you feel the difference in your anxiety or your mood. It’s easy to find a basic guided meditation video, and there are even phone applications designed to help you meditate. A guided meditation will have you focus on your breath and an image in your mind to help tune out your surroundings and calm yourself.
Regular meditation can help you sleep which improves your health and quality of life every day. A statement from the American Heart Association even suggests evidence supports the use of meditation as an adjunct or complementary therapy along with standard treatment to lower blood pressure. With practice, you’ll be able to meditate anywhere, and you can do it as often as you feel it helps you.
Mindfulness for your mental health
Mindfulness is a simple approach to living in the moment and taking time to be grateful for what you have and the things that are going well. It’s easy to forget everything you have to be grateful for when you’re feeling stressed, and we are all guilty of complaining about small things – we just don’t realize how much those small, negative thoughts are hindering our happiness. Mindfulness encourages you to challenge your nature to be fast-paced and maximize productivity, in order to notice and appreciate the positive things.
There are many different ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your daily life. Mindful eating is a good place to start when you’re not used to slowing down. We all need to eat right? So, take that time in your day to put your phone and work away, focus on the food, and appreciate the nourishment it gives your body. This also makes you more aware of when you are hungry and when you are full, promoting better eating habits and your overall health. Other simple ways you can start incorporating mindfulness include:
- Taking a walk outside and appreciating nature. A walk is also a good time to listen to guided meditation.
- Journaling or recording your thoughts gives you time to reflect on the positive.
- Set a reminder on your phone – remind yourself of something you’re grateful for that always makes you smile (just don’t spend too much time on your phone with every reminder!)
It takes work to shift your mindset and consistently take moments to consider the positives in your life, but mindfulness can help anyone cope with stress and promotes a stable mood. Give it a try this month for your mental health.