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