How to Use Mindfulness To Prevent Depression
Most of us welcome sadness and pain about as much as a root canal — without Novocaine. They’re uncomfortable, unpleasant, and just no fun at all, but let’s face it, negative emotions are an unavoidable part of life. When coupled with all the other things life throws at us, they can often lead to depression.
Depression is a complex, episodic, and recurring illness with a basis in brain neurochemicals and thought patterns with many other contributing factors such as life events, environment, biochemicals, and heredity. When someone is in the grips of depression, getting well is only half of the battle. Staying well is the other half.
When a person is depressed, upsetting feelings are part of the condition. When someone has recovered from a depressive episode and is just going about their normal life, negative emotions are part of that normal life. A beloved pet dies. A good friend moves away. The company downsizes and eliminates their job. Challenging experiences can and do happen at any time to any of us. Emotions over normal life events can be the trigger that starts a downward spiral leading somebody back into depression.
With negative emotions comprising part of the universal experience of being human, there’s no way people can avoid them, nor is it healthy to even try. However, people can learn to work with and develop a different relationship to their emotions, which helps maintain mental balance and prevent depression.
You do this through the practice of mindfulness.
What Exactly Is Mindfulness?
Being mindful means being aware of what’s happening as it’s happening without judgment. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as:
The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.
There are many different philosophies of mindfulness, but the basic elements that most include are:
- Becoming aware of perceptions, thoughts, feelings and remaining present with them, even when they’re unpleasant or painful.
- Observing your inner experience without reaction or judgment.
- Turning off your autopilot and consciously choosing thoughts and actions with awareness.
- Naming, describing or labeling your feelings with words.
A study by the University of Arizona found the five key benefits of mindfulness to be:
- It strengthened immune system and physiological responses to stress and negative emotions.
- It improved social relationships with family and strangers.
- It reduced stress, depression, and anxiety and increased well-being and happiness.
- It increased openness to experience, conscientiousness, and agreeableness and reduced negative associations with neuroticism.
- It led to greater psychological mindfulness, which included an awareness that is clear, nonconceptual, and flexible; a practical stance toward reality; and present attention to the individual’s consciousness and awareness.
Written by: Debbie Hampton
Source: The Best Brain Possible with Debbie Hampton, Author | Writer | Online Marketer, at: CLICK HERE.
Debbie Hampton recovered from a suicide attempt and resulting brain injury to become an inspirational and educational writer. She is the author of Beat Depression And Anxiety By Changing Your Brain and a memoir, Sex, Suicide, and Serotonin, being re-released next month. Debbie writes for The Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, and more. On her website, The Best Brain Possible, she shares information and inspiration on how to better your brain and life.