NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Creating Time for Self Reflection: Mindfulness

In a recent conversation that I had with a therapist, who is a friend and colleague, we talked about how, generally speaking, many people seem to value "staying busy" much more these days than spending even a small amount of time on self reflection.

Creating Time for Self Reflection:  Mindfulness 

I believe that this overall decrease in self reflection, in turn, has lead to detrimental health effects, lack of satisfaction with life, a deterioration in important relationships for many people as well as a disregard for the environment and the health of our planet.

In a prior article, Psychotherapy and the Mindful Self: The Benefits of Mindfulness in Therapy, I focused on why I'm a proponent of mindfulness in therapy.

In this article, I'll discuss why I think mindfulness, as one form among many, of self reflection, has overall health and mental health benefits whether you're in therapy or not.

Why Is Self Reflection Important?
I know a lot of people pooh-pooh the idea of taking time for self reflection and refer to it derisively as "navel gazing."

At the same time, people who actually do spend some time each week either practicing mindfulness, meditating, doing yoga, journal writing or coming to therapy to reflect on their lives, tend to express much more satisfaction with their lives than people who focus on just "keeping busy."

There can be many reasons why people keep themselves distracted by "keeping busy" (see my article:  Are You "Keeping Busy" to Avoid Painful Emotions?).

Creating Time for Self Reflection:  Mindfulness

By "keeping busy" most of the time, it's easy to live in a "mindless" way without self reflection or empathy for yourself and others.

Life can feel meaningless, shallow and overly routine as you become more disconnected from yourself, significant people in your life and your environment (both personal environment as well as the environment of our planet).

Becoming Mindful of the Environment of Our Planet

More than ever, I'm hearing from clients in my psychotherapy private practice in NYC that they're feeling an increased sense of loneliness and alienation.

I think there are many reasons for this, including an emphasis on "staying busy," less time for self reflection as well as less meaningful in-person contact with significant others--just to name a few causes of this complex phenomena.

As with anything, there needs to be a balance between spending time on self reflection and taking care of your responsibilities, working, having fun and everything else that is part of a full life.

By "Keeping Busy" Most of the Time, It's Easy to Live in a "Mindless" Way

We can always find something else "to do" that can eliminate time for self reflection, so it's usually a matter of making it a priority and creating the time to do it, much as you would for anything else that you feel is important.

Once you create the time for self reflection and develop this as a healthy habit, it often doesn't take a lot of time to reap the benefits.

Mindfulness and Self Reflection
Mindfulness is one way to engage in self reflection.

Creating Time for Self Reflection:  Mindfulness

Even just 15 minutes a day of mindfulness can help improve your overall health and sense of well being, and these benefits include:
  • focusing on the here-and-now rather than focusing on regrets about the past or worrying about the future
  • developing a greater capacity to form meaningful connections with others
  • developing better coping skills
  • cultivating a healthier perspective about life
  • improving sleep
  • alleviating gastrointestinal problems
  • alleviating depressive symptoms
  • alleviating symptoms of anxiety
  • helping with obsessive compulsive disorder
  • lowering blood pressure
  • reducing chronic pain
  • helping to improve communication in relationships
  • developing a healthier appreciation of the environment
These are just some of the many benefits.

When you consider the substantial benefits of mindfulness, isn't it worth spending 15 minutes to help improve your health and overall sense of well being?

In my Self Reflection and Basic Mindfulness Techniques, I'll discuss some simple ways that you can practice mindfulness to get started.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.