Using Mindfulness to Manage Depression and Anxiety
Depression and Anxiety can be managed. There is hope!
Sometimes, pain is unavoidable. No one is immune from experiencing difficult or uncomfortable thoughts, emotions, and sensations. It is a part of being a living, breathing human being! Many people try to push these feelings away. Other people distract themselves. Still others may engage in harmful behaviors that offer at least a temporary sense of relief. All of these responses make sense because, at least for that moment, they can make the pain more bearable. However, they often come with a cost.
Mindfulness is an intervention to help people deal with pain, both emotional and physical that, in a different way; this includes depression and anxiety. It is not a way of doing things, but rather is a way of “being.” It involves being open, curious, and nonjudgmental of the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that are occurring in the present moment, even if they are uncomfortable. In other words, instead of pushing them out, mindfulness is a way to let them in and gain more control over how we let them influence our lives.
The present-moment focus is an important part of being mindful. Much of our emotional distress is rooted in the past (as we think over and over about times we failed) or the future (as we imagine all the worst possible outcomes for something that hasn’t even happened yet). Depression and anxiety are common results of spending most of our time thinking about the past or the future. Bringing the focus to the present moment can help us to get out of our heads and connect with what’s around us in each moment.
Fairmount offers group and individual therapy as a ways to support dealing with depression and anxiety and all other types of emotional pain. There are often daily yoga, dance and movement, and art therapy groups that incorporate aspects of mindfulness into treatment. Our goal is to give people the tools they need for recovery and to help them get in touch with what’s most meaningful in their lives.
Michelle Ludwig, M.A.
Predoctoral Psychology Intern
Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology