What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Mindfulness and similar techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing, have been practiced for centuries. Increasing evidence shows that that these techniques help people manage stress and support health and well-being. There is also evidence that these practices, while not curing illness, support medical treatment.
The techniques have found new life in a stressed-out world of conflicting priorities. Simply put, mindfulness is staying in the moment, focused on present experience and not flinging yourself forward into the unknown “what if” (worrying) or looking back with “If only” (guilt and regret).
Types of mindfulness practices include deep breathing, meditation, and guided imagery.
Although these are different practices, they are often used interchangeably. As a therapist, my clients who practiced these techniques reported a greater sense of calm and relaxation. With greater relaxation, problem solving, managing anxiety, and other stress related life and work challenges may not take as much energy – making you a better caregiver!
A guided imagery meditation led by Jon Kabit-Zinn:
Tools and information:
- VIDEO: An introductory lecture on mindfulness by one of the early leaders, Jon Kabit-Zinn.
- VIDEO: TED talk on mindfulness by Andy Puddicombe
- List and description of free or low-cost smartphone apps providing mindfulness techniques. Healthline publishes annually and 2020 is the most recent: http://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/top-meditation-iphone-android-apps
- Simple techniques, in addition to seeing a doctor to focus on health and seeing a therapist, at the links below
- Sampling of the research
References: Zanda Hilger, LPC; Including information from Family Caregiver Alliance, Wellness Society, and the Visiting Nurse Service of New York.