In the stress of our daily lives, we seem to spend our time either overthinking or zoning out. Learning to order our thoughts is not only healthy for our minds, but it can help us heal from substance use habits as well.

Mindfulness meditation might seem like a trendy buzzword right now, but it’s no fad. Mindfulness has been practiced for thousands of years, first as a spiritual practice and now more commonly as a type of grounding therapeutic exercise. Today, it’s used in workouts (like yoga), weight loss and mental health treatment – specifically addiction recovery.

If you’re wondering about the meaning of mindfulness or how to practice it, you’re in the right place. This article will define and explain what mindfulness meditation is and why you should add it to your routine.

What is mindfulness?

A meditative practice that focuses on increasing awareness of your surroundings and your inner self, mindfulness aims not to analyze or make judgments about observations, but simply to soak them up.

In mindfulness meditation, a person pays attention to bodily sensations, the surrounding environment and current emotions. Mindfulness meditation can include breathing exercises, visualization or even outdoor reflection to calm the body and reduce stress. Mindfulness is both a self-care practice and a way to cope with difficult emotions once they arise.

A paper published in the journal Substance Abuse states that managing stress is one of the most critical skills for long-term recovery from addiction. Mindfulness therapies can be included in treatment for both substance use and related mental health concerns, and help people to live more free, fulfilling lives.

How do I practice mindfulness?

Anyone can practice mindfulness, and it’s relatively easy to implement anywhere once you’ve learned the techniques. Mindfulness meditation requires some commitment of time, and the longer and more regularly you engage, the better the benefits.

If you try out mindfulness therapy or any instruction on mindfulness exercises, you’re sure to use some of these tools – observation, tuning into the environment, considering things without judgment, experiencing the current moment and self-affirmation.

There are endless ways to incorporate mindful practices into your routine using the skills above. Here are some activities you might want to try out:

  • Use deep breathing exercises
  • Try a guided meditation
  • Set goals at the start of the day
  • Remove distractions during meals to focus on the experience
  • Journal about your surroundings
  • Take a long, quiet walk
  • Make use of a mindfulness app

How can mindfulness help with substance use habits?

Mindfulness meditation isn’t about an end goal. It doesn’t require you to reach a certain milestone, and there are no outlined success criteria. Mindfulness is a process, a journey.

In the same way, substance use recovery is a process. There is no definitive end, as relapse will be an ever-present ultimatum. However, mindfulness and sobriety can help us to achieve a sense of freedom and distance ourselves from bad habits to the point where they are no longer an appealing option.

Here are some ways that mindfulness can help on your journey toward recovery:

  • Helps us to manage our stress response: When we are aware of our surroundings and our inner experiences, we can better cope with difficult situations. Awareness gives us the opportunity to implement healthy habits before we seek out substances.
  • Establishes a sense of daily peace: Regularly practicing mindfulness exercises can restore calm to our lives, decreasing the times we’d seek out substances due to boredom, anxiety or sadness.
  • Gives us power over our triggers: Being mindful of our environment and feelings can help us to regain control over our usage habits. When we notice triggers early, we can put them into perspective before cravings set in.
  • Offers a new perspective: Because mindfulness meditation encourages absorbing experiences without judging them, we can look at our situation with fresh eyes. Looking at your life objectively can give you a new angle to see your life and renewed motivation for recovery.

Start practicing mindfulness today

Now that you know how to practice mindfulness and why it can help in your recovery, there’s no reason to wait. Try some of the techniques mentioned above on your own, and work with your mental health professional to incorporate mindful practices into your treatment plan.

If you’re interested in mindfulness therapy as it relates to distancing yourself from substance use habits, check out Real Recovery. At Real Recovery, you’ll engage in mindfulness exercises led by mental health professionals to help you escape addiction and pursue long-term recovery. Call (855) 363-7325 today, to learn more about Real Recovery’s residential and outpatient programs.