Inhale the Present, Exhale Distractions

Anxiety, Depression

| Written by Jessica Lelinho, MA, LPC, NCC, LCADC, C-DBT

Do you feel like your life is so busy that you’re constantly running from one thing to another? Feel like you’re not always present in the moment and always distracted by something else? Sometimes, our life is so busy that we forget to observe and be in the present moment. I think it’s safe to say that at times we all struggle with being in the present moment and are distracted by something else. Mindfulness is something that can be practiced as it guides us to focus on the present moment rather than being distracted by everything else surrounding us.

Image by Sadaham Yathra via

What is Mindfulness?

The Mayo Clinic defines mindfulness as a type of meditation in which you focus on intensely being aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in that moment, without interruption or judgment. Mindfulness can be practiced in a variety of ways including: breathing, guided imagery, yoga, or other activities that will relax your body and mind while reducing stress. 

Benefits of Meditation

The Mayo Clinic identified the following benefits of meditation by assisting those with:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Pain
  • Depression
  • Insomnia 
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

Additionally the Mayo Clinic identified meditation to assist with:

  • Improving our attention
  • Decreasing job burnout
  • Improving sleep
  • Improving control of those suffering from diabetes

Preliminary research also shows that meditation can assist those suffering from asthma and fibromyalgia. 

Statistics of Mindfulness

Mindfulness has been studied by scientific researchers for the past 40 years. The Science of Mindfulness has posted an article in which they describe the results of the studies of mindfulness.  The article discusses that studies have shown that mindfulness may assist in reducing anxiety and depression, help assist in boosting our immune system, help assist with pain management, assist in disengagement in unhealthy habits and/or addiction, assist with soothing insomnia, reduce high blood pressure, and even change the structure or function of your brain in a positive way. 

Types of Mindfulness Therapy

Ashley Olivine, Ph.D., MPH published an article in verywell health in which she discusses three types of mindfulness therapy: Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Mindfulness-Based CBT, and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Therapy (MBSR). Please note that all three types of mindfulness therapy mentioned above need the assistance of a professional.

  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT): In this type of therapy, your therapist will incorporate mindfulness practices along with cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy is a type of therapy in which the therapist requests their client to identify dysfunctional thoughts and assist the client in learning how to choose different thoughts instead. The process of choosing different thoughts over dysfunctional thoughts is known as cognitive restructuring. The technique of cognitive restructuring is utilized in addition to mindfulness meditation and additional mindfulness practices. A technique that is utilized most commonly in MBCT is the three-minute breathing technique. There are three steps and each step is one minute long. First, for a minute, the therapist will ask the client to ask themselves “how am I doing right now?” In this first step, the goal is to focus and identify the thoughts or feelings or sensations that are brought up when answering the question. The second step for one minute asks the client to bring awareness to their breath and to sit with this awareness. Lastly for one minute, the client is asked to assess their physical sensations and how they are affecting the rest of their body.
  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive  Behavioral Therapy or Mindfulness-Based CBT: This type of therapy is a type of psycho-therapy which incorporates mindfulness practices with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a talk therapy which combines cognitive therapy with behavior therapy. In CBT the focus is on how thoughts, emotions, and behaviors all relate and influence one another. 
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Therapy (MBSR): In this type of therapy, mindfulness practices are incorporated with stress management techniques. By doing that, it creates mindfulness protocols specifically for stress reduction rather than a technique for something else with the added benefit of stress relief. This type of therapy has also shown to be effective in improving chronic illness – both physical and mental by assisting individuals with coping of symptoms and clinical issues and/or concerns.

Benefits of Mindfulness

The American Psychological Association (APA) has identified that research pertaining to mindfulness has the following benefits: reduction of rumination, stress reduction, boosting our working memory, increasing our focus, reduction in our emotional reactivity, increasing or greater cognitive flexibility, relationship satisfaction, and many other benefits. discusses additional benefits of mindfulness including: overall improvement in our well-being and improvements in both our physical and mental health. 

The Mental Health Foundation identified the following benefits of practicing mindfulness: understanding our emotions better, coping better with difficult thoughts, feeling calmer, boosting our attention and concentration, and improving our relationships. It has also been shown that practicing mindfulness can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Image by cottonbro studio via

Types of Mindfulness Activities

Various activities exist in which you can practice mindfulness. Healthline identified mindfulness activities for adults, children, and teens. Some mindfulness activities identified for adults include: gratitude list, walking meditation, mindful driving, single-tasking, mindful eating, and mindful gardening.  Mindfulness activities identified for children include: wiggle and freeze game, five sense scavenger hunt, monkey see monkey do, dragon breathing, bubble blowing, and calm cards. Mindfulness activities identified for teens include: music appreciation, mindful movement, shaking, puzzles, and apps. The article also discusses mindful activities for anxiety such as: body scanning, box breathing, and acceptance and self-compassion.

  • Body Scanning: A simple technique that allows you to calm both your mind and body. To practice this technique you’ll need to lie down, relax your body, and tune into what you’re feeling (i.e., sensations such as pain or tension). The full instructions and benefits can be found here.
  • Box Breathing: In this technique you’ll take a full deep breath to calm your nervous system. Instructions to practice this technique can be found here
  • Acceptance and Self-Compassion:This technique assists in relaxing your anxiety. I know it’s easier said than done but you’ll need to accept your anxiety and view your anxiety as a strength rather than a weakness. 

Additionally, the following techniques can be utilized as identified on the website mind:

  • Mindful eating: In this technique you’re asked to pay attention to the taste, sight, and textures of what you’re eating. For example, when drinking a cup of coffee or tea focus on the temperature, how the drink feels on your tongue, how sweet it tastes, or focus on watching the steam.
  • Mindful moving, walking, or running: In this technique when exercising, focus on the feeling of your body moving. For example, notice the breeze on your skin or the feeling of your feet on different surfaces and textures of the ground or the smells you smell that are surrounding you when exercising. 
  • Mindful coloring and drawing: In this technique, when drawing or coloring, don’t focus on drawing something particular but rather focus on the colors or sensation of your pencil on the paper. Additionally, you could color in a mindfulness coloring book or color mindfulness coloring images
  • Mindful meditation: This technique asks you to sit quietly and focus on your breathing, thoughts, sensations in your body or sensations around you. Try to stay in the present and not let your mind wander. Yoga can help with focusing on breathing and being in the present. 

We all have difficulty at times focusing on the present moment and not being distracted by everything else surrounding us. These are just a few of the tips that can be utilized to help you practice mindfulness in our daily lives. 

If you are looking to practice mindfulness, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Practicing mindfulness can lead to decreasing mental health symptoms of anxiety, depression, and various other mental health challenges. A licensed professional can assist you in overcoming these challenges. 

When Jessica is not providing therapy, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, listening to country music, cooking, baking, and going to the beach.

Check out Jessica’s professional bio here

Email Us:

Call Now: (908) 415-2042