A distracted or wandering mind can be hazardous, especially while performing the tasks that demand focus. People can’t utilize their full potential in executing the tasks due to their inability to focus. Some studies have suggested the efficiency of mindfulness in managing mind wandering. Mindfulness refers to a mental state when an individual is able to focus on his/her awareness on the present moment. A recent study dug deeper to understand if mindfulness can induce focus and control mind wandering.
The findings of the study, published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition in May 2017, suggested that mindfulness training or meditation might help deal with mind wandering in anxious individuals. Meditation may be effective in preventing the progression of mind wandering over time while managing poor performance due to off-task episodes. In addition, the researchers found that the intervention might be helpful in promoting attention and ability to focus during the transition from the internal to present-moment external world. It highlighted the possible efficacy of meditation in treating worry in anxious populations. The study indicated a reduction in incidents of repetitive off-task thinking by inculcating an awareness of the present moment.
Mengran Xu, a researcher and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Waterloo, said, “Our results indicate that mindfulness training may have protective effects on mind wandering for anxious individuals. We also found that meditation practice appears to help anxious people to shift their attention from their own internal worries to the present-moment external world, which enables better focus on a task at hand.”
Role of mindfulness in managing mind wandering
The researchers added that mind wandering compromised around half of any person’s daily stream of consciousness, with anxiety and repetitive off-task thoughts adversely affecting their ability to complete tasks, learn new things and function safely.
A previous study published in the journal Science had also suggested similar results. It found that people tended to waste 46.9 percent of their total waking hours in thinking of something other than what they were engaged in. According to the researchers, most of these people were unhappy about their inability to control mind wandering as their ability to ruminate over things that are not happening left them emotionally stressed and dissatisfied. The researchers reported that in 4.6 percent people, the happiness in a given moment depended on the particular activity they were doing while 10.8 percent people’s happiness was affected by mind-wandering status. In other words, mind wandering was a cause of their unhappiness, not an outcome.
Tips to practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is not restricted to sitting at one place, closing one’s eyes and learning to calm the mind. Mindfulness is a lot more about general life practices to help one heal from inside and make every day the best day. In order to reduce stress, improve the present moment and make the best out of life, here are some tips to practice mindfulness:
1.Make the technique a practice:
Some people are confused about choosing a mindfulness technique. However, it rarely matters. People can choose the one they are most motivated to do and can practice regularly. It will help them stick to the routine.
2. Forgiving is a virtue
It is common to procrastinate at times. People should learn to forgive themselves and should not feel guilty if they miss some practice sessions. Return soon rather than ruminating about it.
3. An easy start is a sustainable start
Researchers advise to start slow and easy. Trying too hard in the beginning can be demotivating. Realizing small pleasures like the sensation of coolness after a sip of cold water or feeling the refreshing breeze on hair can be initial footsteps towards mindfulness.
Seeking professional help
Practicing mindfulness is known to be an effective technique to deal with worry, the hallmark of anxiety. However, people who have tried the technique and have not benefitted much, or those who have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder should not delay treatment.
The Anxiety Treatment Centers of California can be your go-to resource to seek anxiety-related help including information on anxiety disorders treatment in California. Chat online or call our 24/7 helpline number 855-972-9459 to know about various mental health treatment centers in California that offer comprehensive recovery programs.