As mothers, wives, and business or work-oriented women, it is easy to place the importance of our mental health last in our checklists. While we may have a million things to worry about, neglecting our mental health will result in higher levels of stress and can negatively affect our mental health and other aspects of our lives.
It may initially sound too challenging to squeeze in time for ourselves when there are other people and responsibilities that require our time. However, adjusting our schedule to ensure there is time to fulfill duties while maintaining our mental health daily is essential and possible. There are several ways to practice self-care. While some people can enjoy a glass of wine at the end of the day to unwind, people in recovery do not have that option, and there are healthier ways to unwind, such as through meditation.
What Are Meditation and Mindfulness?
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), many of the meditation practices that are used today have been around for thousands of years and have roots in Eastern traditions. The term “meditation” refers to several techniques that integrate the mind and body, calm the mind, and improve general well-being.
Some forms of meditation involve sustaining mental focus on a specific sensation. This can include breath work, a sound, a visual image, or a mantra that is a repeated word or phrase. Other types of meditation include mindfulness exercises, which include focusing attention or awareness on the present moment without passing judgment. Cognitive treatment that incorporates mindfulness techniques also incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Health Benefits of Meditation
While we may push our own needs aside in an effort to be selfless and keep everything in control, neglecting our mental health can be detrimental to our overall health. According to the NCCIH, recent studies investigated the benefits of meditation to health. Studies particularly focused on the benefits of meditation for people struggling with anxiety, stress, depression, pain, or symptoms related to withdrawal from nicotine, alcohol, or opioids.
Benefits of Meditation for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported that involved 142 groups of participants with diagnosed psychiatric disorders examined mindfulness meditation in comparison to no treatment. This study found that when treating anxiety and depression, mindfulness-based approaches were better than no treatment.
Benefits of Meditation for Substance Use Disorder
Mindful-based approaches have been used to help individuals increase their awareness of the thoughts and feelings that trigger cravings. Meditation approaches help these individuals to learn ways to manage their reactions to those cravings.
Additionally, according to the NIH, 531 participants evaluated the effectiveness of several mindfulness approaches on substance use disorder (SUD) treatment. The study found that mindfulness approaches significantly reduced an individual’s craving for alcohol and other substances.
Benefits of Meditation While in Recovery
Research has evaluated SUD and found that addiction is a brain disorder caused by a dysregulation of the neural process underlying reward learning. According to Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, recent studies suggest that mindfulness training can help target neurocognitive mechanisms to prevent relapse.
Also, according to the same article, mindfulness might lessen the likelihood of relapse by raising awareness of high-risk circumstances, promoting a pleasant hedonic tone, and preventing a single slip from developing into a full-blown relapse.
Mindfulness Treatment for Women in Recovery
In the article “Moment-by-Moment in Women’s Recovery,” researchers tested the efficiency of a mindfulness-based intervention to support women with substance use disorder. The study focused on women’s recovery because of women’s vulnerability to relapse as a result of complex social histories. According to this research, women report a significantly higher rate of trauma than men in the form of physical and sexual abuse.
According to the study, mindfulness is a teachable manner of functioning that entails paying attention to one’s experiences in the present with openness and the purpose of developing non-judgmental, non-reactive states of awareness. Mindfulness allows individuals to take control of their cognitive and social triggers by raising awareness and acceptance of each experience, even when they are uncomfortable or unwanted.
Mindfulness skills help individuals learn to self-regulate through tough times by learning to experience uncomfortable moments without avoiding or reacting to feelings of cravings. Repressing unwanted feelings can only lead to increasing the activation of substance use cravings. These skills are especially important for residential treatment patients who go through difficult emotions while adjusting to a structured setting, dealing with withdrawal symptoms, and controlling drug cravings.
The study researched in the article “Moment-by-Moment in Women’s Recovery” showed that the women who participated in mindfulness-based treatments were less likely to leave their residential treatment without satisfactory results. This information supports the effectiveness of mindfulness-based treatment methods.
The quality of one’s mental health can determine the quality of their life and overall health. Therefore, our own mental health should be prioritized before anything else. Meditation is an effective form of self-therapy when dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, or substance use disorder. Mindfulness exercises involve focusing attention and awareness on a present moment without judgment, regardless of your feelings. Although mindfulness exercises are not enough for long-term recovery and require other forms of treatment, learning to practice meditation can significantly improve your chances of recovery. By increasing awareness and acceptance of every experience, mindfulness enables people to take control of their cognitive and social triggers. For more information, call Spero Recovery Center at (303) 351-7888.