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  • Tara Foulkes

Mindfulness helps control emotions



The University of California Berkeley define mindfulness as “maintaining a moment by moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment”. I prefer to define it as paying attention to what you are doing when you are doing it.

The benefits of this practice have gained popularity in recent years, stating it is good for the immune system, attention, memory and it increases your grey matter – yes please!

I came across it in 2014 when a change in culture at work left me feeling cheated, undervalued and frustrated. I found myself constantly going over conversations and situations (ruminating) regarding the injustice of it all. It was making me ill. This ruminating would mean that the stress and feelings would be brought back to the surface, therefore, I would snap at those around me so that I could concentrate on the crap going on in my head. I now call this “bullshit journeys” as it’s just a load of crap that is wasting your time and energy which leads nowhere.

Fortunately, I recognised that my behaviour was not healthy and took steps to change it. This is when I started to incorporate mindfulness into my life. It was at the time when the film Frozen first came out and the Idina Menzel song “let it go” was everywhere. Therefore, whenever I found myself taking a bullshit journey, this song popped into my head, made me laugh and I realised what I was doing, stopped it and paid attention to the job in hand.

Researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) in the United States, have found neural evidence that mindfulness helps control negative feelings, not just in people who are naturally more likely to be mindful or meditation, but anyone.

In Alloquor’s Anxiety Control eLearning Course (coming soon) mindfulness is one of the maintenance techniques that we should all incorporate into our lives to ensure that our brain cannot trick us into being or acting in a particular way.

The study at MSU invited participants who had never practised mindfulness before, their analysis demonstrated that some were more naturally mindful than others, but that this had no effect on the findings. They found that the brain was able to control negative emotions either way.

I’m not naturally mindful, my brain like a bullshit journey and would take these all day if allowed, however, incorporating my “let it go” technique into my life I have trained my brain to stop taking these journeys and to be more mindful. Give it a try yourself next time your brain tries to put the world to rights!

Thanks for reading, if you like it please share.

References:

Deconstructing the emotion regulatory properties of mindfulness: An electrophysiological investigation, Yanli Lin et al., Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, doi:10.3389/fnhum.2016.00451, Published online September 7 2016


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