Mindfulness is an important skill to learn if you want to improve your overall health. Most of us do not practice mindfulness at all, and that can lead to issues around mental health. Focusing all of our energy on past failures or constantly worrying about the future can easily lead to depression or anxiety. But if you learn to be mindful and focus on the present, it is a lot easier to manage your mental health effectively. Being more aware of yourself and your thoughts will help you to understand why you get into these negative thought patterns in the first place, and how you can avoid them. Activities like meditation and yoga are popular ways of practising mindfulness, but it’s really about paying more attention to yourself on a daily basis and understanding your own thoughts.
Unfortunately, modern life doesn’t always lend itself to mindfulness because we are constantly surrounded by distractions and most of us have picked up some bad habits along the way. Many people find that they try to practise mindfulness but they do not see any change, and that’s often because they continue to engage in behaviour which makes mindfulness difficult. These are some of the bad habits that make it hard to practice mindfulness.
Social Media Use
Most of us use social media these days and it does have a lot of great benefits. It’s a good way to stay in touch with family and friends that you don’t get to see very often, and it has been used to promote a lot of positive social causes. But there are a lot of downsides to social media. It encourages people to compare themselves with one another and it can cause a lot of anxiety in some people. Constantly worrying about yourself and wondering whether other people are happier or more successful than you is not good for your mental state and it makes it very difficult for you to be mindful. It’s also a big distraction and it can take up a lot of time which could be better spent relaxing and taking some time out of the day to practice meditation or simply think about the day's events. You don’t have to give up social media completely if you want to practice mindfulness, but you should try not to use it too often and make sure that you don’t get too caught up in it. These mindful social media practices will help you to find a better balance.
We hear a lot about the physical health effects of smoking, but we don’t talk about the impact that it has on your mental health quite so much. Most people that smoke say that it relaxes them, but in reality, it increases feelings of anxiety and tension over time, which does not help with mindfulness. It also creates an emotional dilemma when you smoke. You know that it’s bad for you and you should stop, but the addiction keeps you coming back. Instead of being mindful and not allowing your thoughts and feelings to rule you, you give in each time and reach for the cigarettes. It’s a lot harder to practice mindfulness when you engage in this contradiction every day, so it’s important that you stop as soon as you can. If you are finding it hard, there are medications that can help with stopping smoking, so you should look into that right away. If you practice mindfulness on a regular basis, you will find that it gets easier and easier to resist those cravings as you have more control over your negative thought processes.
Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
When people are feeling stressed and anxious, or a bit low, they often rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms to make themselves feel better. These coping mechanisms come in all shapes and sizes but the more common ones include alcohol, comfort eating, or impulse shopping. People hope that indulging in these things will help them to feel better and sometimes, they do. But only for a very short period. You aren’t dealing with the root cause of your negative feelings, you are just pushing them down and they will come back worse. When you are trying to be mindful, it’s important that you recognise your thoughts and feelings and start to understand where they come from, but it’s impossible to do that if you deflect them with unhealthy coping mechanisms. A lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms, especially alcohol, will also increase feelings of anxiety and depression over time, so it’s important that you avoid it as much as possible.
Mindfulness takes practice and if you continue with these habits, it makes it a lot harder to remain mindful every day. Collaboration.