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Learn how to bring mindfulness into your daily life
With a fast paced life, it's normal to search for ways to reduce stress and improve your well-being. VA's Mindfulness Coach app is a great place to start. The app provides a self-guided training program designed to help you understand and use a simple mindfulness practice. Increasing your mindfulness can help reduce stress, improve emotional balance, help with anxiety, depression, and even chronic pain.
What being mindful means
Mindfulness means being fully present, or aware of where you are and what you're doing. It helps keep you from being overly reactive to everything around you. When we lose touch with the present moment it's easier to be overwhelmed by negative thoughts about the past or future; that can leave you feeling anxious. Practicing mindfulness can improve concentration, sleep, anger, stress, and many other symptoms commonly associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
In the mobile app's 'Mindfulness Training' section, you'll be guided through 14 levels designed to help you learn the basics of mindfulness, one step at a time. You'll learn:
What mindfulness is, and how to integrate it into your lifestyle
How mindfulness can help
Many different styles of mindfulness practice
As you learn more about mindfulness, you'll put your knowledge into practice with a short, seated exercise. You'll start with just 1 minute of mindfulness per day and work your way up to 15 minutes per day by the end of the training. You'll see your progress over time, with the personal goals that you set for yourself. When you complete each level of training, you'll see your progress grow with a 'mindfulness tree' from a seedling at level 1 to a fully-grown tree at level 14.
"This app is a great tool for learning about mindfulness, and just to be a more relaxed person in general. My therapist recommended it for me, she found out about it from doing her clinical rotations in the VA," said one user.
In the 'Practice Now' section, you can get quick access to the mindfulness exercises that are recommended for you, based on your current level of the training plan. You can also easily keep track of your favorite exercises. To see all the exercises available within the app, tap 'All.' Mindfulness Coach has lots of additional exercises available to download for free, including audio exercises from previous versions of the app. You can practice these exercises on your own time and at your own pace.
"I use it when I need help falling asleep!! Breathing tool is by far the best I've found for daily/nightly relaxation! There are many other meditation options available on this free app for anyone to use! Remember, you can modify your positions to fit your needs," shared one app user. VA also offers audio recordings that can help alongside the app. These mindfulness meditation recordings can guide you through a variety of exercises to help you manage stress and encourage relaxation:
When you've finished practicing an exercise, you can choose to mark it as a favorite, so it's easy to find later. Then take a moment to log your experience.
You can create your own goals, such as being patient with a loved one or simply taking a few moments a day to practice your mindfulness. Then use the 'Track Progress' section to see how well you are doing.
Mindfulness mastery assessment
The 'Mindfulness Mastery' assessment can also show you how you're making mindfulness a part of your life and to get personal feedback.
Use the 'Practice Logs' to record:
Your experiences practicing mindfulness
How long you practiced
Which exercises you used
Notes about what worked well and what didn't
The 'Build Expertise' section helps you to go deeper into the study of mindfulness. Access short articles on how to get started with mindfulness practice, how to support mindfulness in your life, and what to do when practicing mindfulness seems challenging.
Mindfulness Coach is free, private, and easy to use. Download today and learn how practicing mindfulness can lower your stress and boost your well-being. Veterans with a Premium My HealtheVet account can use Secure Messaging(sign in required) to send non-urgent questions or comments to their care coordinator and other members of their health care team.
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