Have you ever heard of mindfulness?
Over the past few years, mindfulness and related activities – like yoga and meditation – have seen a sharp increase in popularity. You might have already heard of it, and maybe even have a vague idea of what it is.
But, what you might not be aware of is its role in addiction recovery. If you or a loved one is battling an addiction, be it with alcohol, drugs, gambling, or something else entirely, mindfulness might be just what they need to help them recover.
Find out more about what exactly mindfulness is and how it can help in our guide.
What is Mindfulness?
Although its rise in popularity across the Western world has been pretty recent, mindfulness was actually first introduced over 2,500 years ago by Buddha. In simple terms, the practice is all about becoming present in your own life. You might think that you already are, but you’d be surprised!
Our brains are wired to not live in the moment. People are usually thinking about future plans, reminiscing on days gone by, or their mind is just on something completely different to what they’re doing. Essentially, we’ve started running on autopilot, and it’s having a lot of negative effects.
Mindfulness brings you back to the present. It helps you to develop greater awareness of the world around you and yourself. Practising mindfulness can also reduce anxiety and depression, give you better control over your emotions, and create a healthier perception of your life.
What Does Mindfulness Involve?
There are many different skills taught in mindfulness practices. These include:
- Observational skills
- Describing situations and emotional responses fluently
- Increasing participation and reducing self-consciousness
- Reducing judgmental thought patterns
- Improving focus on individual moments
- Being confident that the method you’ve chosen to undertake a task is the correct one
These skills are designed to help rid you of that autopilot mindset and bring you back to the present. They’ll also encourage a more positive, loving, and uncritical attitude, not only towards others but towards yourself too. After all, the relationship you have with you is the most important of all.
How Can Mindfulness Help With Addiction?
So, how can mindfulness help with different types of addictions? After reading about the skills you learn, you may be thinking is that it? Addiction is such a tough battle so you’d be right to be sceptical, but the benefits of mindfulness in recovery are vast!
Let’s take a look at some of the different ways it could help you or your loved one to beat addiction.
Life can often feel overwhelming and you’re moving from one thing to the other without the chance to even breathe. It’s stressful, ad it’s not a good way to live from a mental health perspective. By being more mindful, you can slow yourself and your mind, helping you relax in the moment and quiet the mental noise.
A lot of people who struggle with addiction are looking for just that from their substance; letting them quiet the noise and find a sense of tranquillity. By practising mindfulness, they can find that without practising destructive behaviors.
Notice the Little Things
Life is full of small joys, but we’re often too busy to notice. Mindfulness brings you back to the present and lets you enjoy and appreciate all of the wonderful sensory experiences life has to offer. It’s like seeing everything in color for the first time!
Those with addictions often struggle to see the beauty and joy in life. This could be transformative in giving them a more positive outlook and discovering that, in fact, happiness is everywhere.
Understand Your Responses
Mindfulness encourages individuals to understand their emotions. If you become angry in a situation, mindfulness focuses on the root cause rather than the emotion itself, helping you see the emotion and let it go. By understanding emotional triggers that can lead to substance abuse, people can respond differently in the future and avoid repeating the same patterns.
Worrying is exhausting and, more often than not, pointless! Those suffering from addictions will often feel overwhelmed with worries and anxieties. By practising mindfulness, they can rewire their brain to not focus on those fears and bring themselves back to the moment.
Practices to Start Your Mindfulness Journey
Mindfulness is an incredible tool to boost long-term health and aid in recovery. To start practising or help someone who you think could benefit from it, here are some simple mindfulness practices.
Start paying attention to your sensory experiences throughout the day; how the chair feels beneath you, how the breeze feels against your skin, and what the air smells like.
Practice being still through meditation, yoga therapy, or an immersive activity (painting, playing music etc.). Bring your mind back to the present moment every time it wanders.
Try conscious breathing breaks by inhaling through your nostrils and out through your mouth, focusing on nothing but your breathing and how it feels.
Let Negative Thought Go
Remember that thoughts are not your reality. When you feel triggered, become conscious of the negative thoughts causing your emotional responses and understand that they aren’t the truth. Let them go.
Try Mindfulness in Recovery
Mindfulness in recovery works incredibly well for many people. From helping to understand negative thought patterns and change emotional responses, to becoming happier in the world we live in, there are a vast range of benefits that can help the issues related to addiction.
At New Leaf Detox & Treatment, we understand that people sometimes need more than the normal medications and talking therapies to overcome addiction. That’s why we offer a range of treatments, including those that are mindfulness-oriented and holistic. To find out more, get in touch with our team today and let’s discuss how we can help you or your loved one.