Mindfulness for insomnia
Everyone in the house is asleep but me; it has been a few days since my sleeping got messed up. Yesterday I slept until it was the afternoon and I was hoping when I fell asleep earlier than I had the past while, I would stay asleep. It is strange being awake when everyone is deep in slumber. This is part of the depression and it isn’t really something new to me. I wonder what I can do to reset my sleep pattern, though my patterns don’t stay the same for long. I’ve turned on Midnight in the Desert on Newstalk radio 1010 for company.
Far too many times have I sat awake ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. Tonight, or if you prefer this morning, I’ve decided to try mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of staying in the present. Research has shown that this helps people with insomnia and I hope it has the same effect on me. I’m feeling quite anxious and before I caught on to what I was doing to myself I was imaging the worst possible outcome to my housing situation and how I’m not prepared for it.
Harvard editor Dr. Ronald Siegel has some guided meditations online that I am going to try. Done. Amazing! I started to yawn while doing the breathing exercises and my body feels much more relaxed. I was told about breathing exercises when I was first diagnosed with major depressive disorder, but I haven’t made it a habit. It felt so good to do the exercise that I’m going to have to make a part of my daily routine. I highly suggest that you try it.
Where did mindfulness originate?
I assumed that mindfulness originated in psychology, but I am wrong. It cannot be described as being an eastern or western concept. There is a history of mindfulness being practiced and taught by Hindus and Buddhists; there are differing thoughts on where mindfulness originated. Known history goes back 2,500 years; the methods have changed but the purpose of practicing mindfulness to end pain is the same. The forms of mindfulness have changed and are part of what is now called ” The Mindfulness Movement”, and Time magazine called the popularity of the practice ” The Mindful Revolution”.
It is understood that Budda was a prince who denounced his privileged lifestyle when he learned of the suffering that surrounded him. He then became a teacher on how to eliminate suffering and be a compassionate person using mindfulness. In the 1970s a psychologist named Jon Kabat-Zinn, of the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, was asked to help patients with pain. He had been learning mindfulness at the Insight Meditation Society which has its roots in Buddism. He created a program called the Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program using the techniques of meditation. It is now called the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program and is used in psychiatry as a means for healing and management of depressive disorders.
How does mindfulness help people diagnosed with depression?
Mindfulness has been shown to improve the cognitive symptoms of depression. Cognitive impairment can cause a distortion in thinking increasing negative thoughts and affecting concentration. The practice of mindfulness helps the person with depression focus on the moment and recognize their negative thoughts are untrue. People can then see their negative thoughts as being less powerful and therefore lessen the discomfort that these despairing thoughts cause.
It is important for people with depression to detach from their negative and distorted thoughts; mindfulness keeps the person’s mind from wandering and helps a person maintain control of their thoughts. Mindfulness has expanded to include mindfulness-based art therapy. Research studies on 44 people with depression using mindfulness techniques resulted in reduced symptoms of depression over a period of twelve weeks.
What are other benefits of deep breathing?
Mindfulness practices include deep and concentrated breathing; you focus on each breath in and out for a brief time. Deep breathing is also known as belly breathing, abdominal breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, and paced respiration. It slows the heart beat and lowers blood pressure.
By making mindfulness a part of your routine you will notice a reduction in stress making you feel more relaxed. When you catch on to your negative thinking you can replace these thoughts with a mantra or saying that you create when you’re in a better state of mind.
While you can’t will your way out of depression with positive thinking, mindfulness contributes to combating the symptoms that negative thinking leads to. Types of negative thinking includes:
- Catastrophic thinking- believing the worst possible outcome of a situation will happen. This is not a rare occurrence. It is depression and anxiety talking and the pattern needs to be broken for relief to be felt.
- Jumping to conclusions- these are beliefs without evidence and the conclusion is usually negative.
- Personalization-thinking that negative actions or occurrences are solely your fault.
- Blaming- we are responsible for our emotions; blaming blames ourselves or others for the pain we are experiencing
- Emotional reasoning-giving in to negative emotions that aren’t true.
- Overgeneralizing-making a negative conclusion based on limited evidence
- Black and white-believing opposite extremes without leaving room for in-between answers
- Filtering-ignoring positive attributes of a situation and focusing only on the negative
As you can see cognitive distortions can cause a lot of needless painful experiences. Using mindfulness techniques eliminates the unrealistic thinking from continuing any further. Depression and anxiety are suffered by many people concurrently and the negative thinking patterns of both conditions can sneak up when you least expect it. Mindfulness helps people to stop and recognize that their harmful thoughts are irrational and not act or dwell upon them. I feel better already just by recognizing that I was catastrophizing what could possibly happen concerning my housing situation. I don’t have any evidence of the earlier what ifs I was toying with thereby making me feel crummy. Mindfulness has helped me tonight, I hope you will try it too.