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Benefits of Mindfulness Practice in Addiction Recovery

Learn more about mindfulness practice and how you can benefit from mindfulness at Boardwalk Recovery.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a psychological state of awareness where an individual is fully conscious of their thoughts and actions. It is the practice of purposely being attentive to the present without being judgmental, reactive, or worried.1

Mindfulness is a natural, innate skill that anyone can hone and perfect. However, a certain level of practice is required to be mindful and reap the benefits of this coping mechanism. One of the most common ways to be mindful is through meditation.
Meditation is a process marked by high-level attention to thoughts, internal happenings, and physiological processes such as breathing.

Mindfulness practice

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Importance of Mindfulness in Recovery

Studies suggest that mindfulness practices help a person to tune out distractions and improve memory, ability to retain information, and attention span. People who practice mindfulness experience a greater sense of mental clarity, a decrease in emotional reactivity, and an increase in cognitive focus.

How to Begin Practicing Mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness have several benefits and are a lot easier to do than most people think. An individual must begin by knowing how to practice mindfulness to reap the benefits of mindfulness meditation.

This can be done by:

  • Observing thoughts and surroundings
  • Focusing on breathing
  • Checking in on the body
  • Living in the moment
  • Acceptance of self

Common Mindfulness practice in Addiction Recovery

Studies have shown that there is a positive relationship between the practice of mindfulness and recovery. For example, mindfulness practice in several patients reduced substance dependence and cravings and significantly improved post-treatment and follow-up assessments.2

Common ways to practice mindfulness in everyday life will be detailed below.

Mindful Wakeup

Tuning into the body the moment after waking up is a good first step in the journey of practicing mindfulness. Taking deep breaths and noting how these breaths feel allows for a smooth transition from the dream world into reality. Avoid using cell phones immediately after getting up; instead, allow the body to wake up slowly and fully.

Mindful Walking or Running

This mindfulness practice allows an individual to become aware of their surroundings and consider how the body and mind feel while moving. Walking is a natural process, but with mindful walking, each person takes time to analyze each breath and how tense the body feels while moving. Incorporating a mindful walk or run as part of a daily routine helps relieve stress and improves self-awareness.

Body Scan

Consciously scanning the body is a mindfulness practice where the body is thoroughly scanned for tension, pain, or anything out of the ordinary. The benefits of this mindfulness meditation practice are decreased pain, improved sleep, increased self-awareness, and anxiety and stress relief.3

Mindful Eating 

Mindful eating refers to an individual's approach to food and has a key focus on the sensual awareness of the food. This mindfulness practice has little to do with the calories contained in the food, but rather the feelings experienced while eating.4

Mindful Workout

This holistic approach to mindfulness practice aims to gain a deeper understanding of the workings and needs of the body, and then use this knowledge to improve physical and mental strength without injury. This can include taking a walk and focusing on being present in the moment, or taking up yoga or other mindful exercises.

Benefits of Mindfulness Practice in Addiction Recovery

Mindfulness and meditation can help substance use disorder recovery in the long term. This theory is confirmed by research that shows how mindfulness meditation is an effective approach to treating addictive behaviours.5

Understanding how to practice mindfulness and incorporating mindfulness practices into everyday life can improve the recovery journey. Some potential benefits of mindfulness meditation will be detailed below.

Lowered Heart Rate

Studies show that respiration rates decrease and heart rate variability (HRV) responses increase during mindfulness practice. Regular mindfulness practice and meditation lower the risks of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and stroke.6

Reduced Blood Pressure

Meditation is useful in reducing blood pressure. A study conducted at Brown University showed that mindfulness practice could effectively reduce blood pressure by enhancing attention and self-awareness of unhealthy habits.7

Decreased Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

A clinical trial on the effectiveness of mindfulness-based therapy concluded that it was a promising intervention for treating anxiety and mood problems. People who know how to practice mindfulness can effectively respond to stress with awareness rather than acting instinctively.8

Encourages Compassion

Mindfulness practice can bring awareness to others’ hardships, and recognition of these hardships evokes a sense of compassion and comforting behavior.

Boosted Immunity

Results of a blood sample analysis before and after meditation suggested that meditation boosted the activity of hundreds of genes that directly regulate immune responses.9

Improves Sleep

Mindfulness through meditation can improve sleep quality by decreasing ruminative thoughts, promoting unbiased reevaluation of salient experiences, and diminishing emotional reactivity.

Helps a Person to Relax

Mindfulness practices such as breathing techniques, guided imagery, and mindful walks/runs help to relax the body and mind.

Reduction in Work Burnout

Mindfulness practices help create work-life habits that significantly diminish burnout, stress, and anxiety.

Reduces Pain

In the context of chronic pain, mindfulness meditation can help stop the mind from wandering back to the source of pain.

Reduces Recurrence of Depression

Mindfulness meditation helps individuals recognize the signs of stress and anxiety. Mindfulness is recommended by the NICE (National Institute of Health and Care Excellence) as a way to prevent depression in people who have had at least three previous bouts of depression.

Substance Abuse Treatment

In addition to targeting cravings, mindfulness practice helps reduce affective, cognitive, and behavioral reactivity. This makes mindfulness meditation in recovery a powerful tool in curbing substance use disorders.10

Tips on Practicing Mindfulness

Individuals must practice mindfulness regularly in order to integrate it into their daily routines effectively. These mindfulness tips can help individuals get the most out of the ways to practice mindfulness:

  • Set aside regular time to practice: Schedule an uninterrupted time of the day to practice mindfulness daily. With consistency, mindfulness practice can become a healthy habit.
  • Find a quiet place to concentrate: Practicing mindfulness in a quiet place can help increase concentration levels, awareness and compassion, and improve decision-making with enhanced mental clarity.
  • Repeat a positive affirmation: By regularly repeating affirming statements, the brain is encouraged to take these statements as facts, and these changes become reflected in day-to-day actions.
  • Practice in a comfortable position: Mindfulness can be practiced in four positions; sitting, lying down, walking, or standing. The chosen position/posture is important because it sets the intention for mindfulness meditation and reduces the risk of losing awareness during practice.
  • Focus on transitions: Stress, anxiety, and pressure levels are often heightened during transitions, and people tend to be more reactive than responsive. When faced with these stressors, try focusing on mindful breathing and thereby reconstruct thinking to become focused and clearer.

How Does Mindfulness Work to Prevent Relapse?

Targeted mindfulness recovery practices support long-term outcomes by strengthening the ability to monitor and cope with the discomfort associated with cravings. By being able to cope with and overcome cravings using mindfulness, people recovering from substance use disorders can generally prevent the occurrence of relapses.

Mindfulness practices and cognitive and behavioral-based relapse prevention methods are core aspects of various substance use disorder treatment methods.

Mindfulness practice

How To Seek Mindfulness At Boardwalk Recovery

Learning self-evaluation through mindfulness is crucial in recovery from substance use disorder. Mindfulness practice helps reduce cravings, anxiety, and physical harm. It also potentially lowers the chances of relapse.

At Boardwalk Recovery Center, we work with every patient through evidence-based therapies to provide the tools and support needed to achieve sobriety and recovery.
Our team of highly-trained therapists and professionals has the necessary experience to provide all individuals with the tools necessary to effectively practice mindfulness to aid in their mental health journey.

Reach Out Today

Contact us today at Boardwalk Recovery for more information on mindfulness for addiction recovery, mindfulness tips, and how to incorporate meditation and mindfulness practice into their treatment plan.
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