A new colleague is spreading her wings, as it were, and asked to be a guest author on this site about mindfulness. Enjoy.

This is a skill that can be applied to just about every aspect of your day-to-day life. Like any other skill, it must be practiced daily, and the impact it has on your mental health alone will make it a crucial and necessary aspect of your life. So much so, that an increasing number of health care professionals such as therapists are adding it to their practice with incredible results. In addition to helping you maintain a positive mindset, mindfulness can help you cope with hard times and reduce both anxiety and depression.

A positive mindset

Mindfulness, at its very core, is remaining conscious and aware while actively avoiding the common practice of simply “going through the motions.” This results in being present, engaged and grateful, which have all been proven to contribute to a positive mindset. While we may be hard-wired as humans to err on the side of negative assumptions and thoughts, mindfulness promotes a simple yet effective principle: intention to shift your attention. It’s as straightforward as it sounds – when a negative thought enters your mind, instead of giving it weight and significance by dwelling on it, bring yourself back to present by making the decision to focus on the positive. Simple, right? Practice makes perfect and soon enough mindfulness will become second nature.

Dealing with hard times

Mindfulness also allows us to remain in an overall positive mindset by influencing how to we deal with tragedy and grief in our lives. While hard times will inevitably impact and affect just about everyone, how we deal with the hardships life throws at us can be greatly influenced when we are in a state of mindfulness. Just as is the case with religion and spirituality, mindfulness helps us cope with both grief and stress, allowing us to recover sooner, especially when incorporating meditation. It also reminds us to look for and think of the positive in every and any situation, as difficult as it may seem at first.

Reducing anxiety and depression

It delves deeper into your mindset and has been proven to effectively reduce feelings of anger, depression, anxiety, worry and fear. With the rise of mental health diagnoses in the United States, mindfulness is more important than ever. By focusing on and being in the present, mindfulness leads to less worry and anxiety, especially over things that are not in our control. Since practice does make perfect, consistently incorporating mindfulness into your daily life will remind you to remain in the present, even when your brain–out of habit–wants you to worry about what could happen at an event two weeks away. As mindfulness also promotes feelings of gratitude and bringing yourself back to the positive, it can also reduce feelings of sadness, depression and purposelessness.

While mindfulness is a skill that we must constantly improve on, it is well worth the work due to its positive impact on our mental health. Once it becomes part of our lives, mindfulness not only keeps us in a positive mindset, but also improves our responses to hard times while also reducing both anxiety and depression. By making it a priority in your life, you are taking a very important step in putting your mental health first.