Health Benefits of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Group class sitting and meditating
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Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is a healing approach that combines meditation and yoga. Developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in the 1970s, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction aims to address the unconscious thoughts, feelings, and behaviors thought to increase stress and undermine your health.

What It Involves

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is an eight-week program that involves training in mindfulness meditation and yoga. Participants generally meet once weekly.

In mindfulness meditation, individuals strive to cultivate a greater awareness of the present moment. By increasing their mindfulness, participants in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction aim to reduce their overall arousal and emotional reactivity and to gain a deeper sense of calm.

Uses

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is said to benefit individuals dealing with the following health conditions or problems:

  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Chronic pain
  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Anger
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep problems

Benefits 

Here's a look at Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction's potential health benefits, as tested in scientific studies:

1) Pain Relief

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction may help relieve pain and improve psychological well-being in people dealing with chronic pain conditions, according to a study published in 2010. Researchers found that study members with arthritis showed the greatest improvement in health-related quality of life after undergoing Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, while participants with chronic headache/migraine had the smallest improvement.

2) Stress Management

For a report published in 2009, scientists sized up ten studies on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and found that the program is able to reduce stress levels in healthy people. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction also appeared to reduce anxiety and increase empathy.

3) Better Sleep

Some studies suggest that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction may help reduce certain factors (such as worrying) that contribute to sleep problems, according to a report published in 2007. However, in their analysis of seven studies on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and sleep disturbance, the report's authors found insufficient evidence of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction's ability to significantly improve sleep quality and duration.

Trying Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

If you're considering the use of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, make sure to pursue training at a university medical center, hospital, or clinic, where classes are taught by qualified health professionals. If you're thinking about using it for a health condition, make sure to consult your primary care provider first. It's important to note that self-treating a condition and delaying or avoiding standard care may have serious consequences.

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Article Sources
  • Chiesa A, Serretti A. "Mindfulness-based stress reduction for stress management in healthy people: a review and meta-analysis." J Altern Complement Med. 2009 15(5):593-600.
  • Duke Integrative Medicine. "Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction".
  • Rosenzweig S, Greeson JM, Reibel DK, Green JS, Jasser SA, Beasley D. "Mindfulness-based stress reduction for chronic pain conditions: variation in treatment outcomes and role of home meditation practice." J Psychosom Res. 2010 68(1):29-36.
  • Winbush NY, Gross CR, Kreitzer MJ. "The effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on sleep disturbance: a systematic review." Explore (NY). 2007 3(6):585-91.