a woman sitting crossed legged on her kitchen table while meditating for mindfulness based stress reduction

Looking for a Productive Way to Deal with Stress? Give MBSR a Try!

What Is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction?

Are you stressed out? Do you forget to live in the moment? Or are your thoughts distracted by pain or illness? Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR, might be exactly what you need.

With our busy day-to-day lives, it can be easy to focus on events in the past or ones that have yet to occur. You might find yourself rushing from one thing to the next; you forget to slow down and stay present in the future moment. And you start to lose track of your emotions, thoughts and feelings. Yet, they always catch up to you — usually not in the best or healthiest way. Sound familiar?

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is a program designed to help you live more in the present moment and develop mindfulness. It’s not about taking a break, but instead about paying more attention to what is happening right now and placing your entire awareness on that.

The Goals Behind the MBSR Movement

Typically, MBSR involves an eight-week program, combining meditation and yoga benefits. Ideally, the ultimate goal is to help an individual be present in the moment, gain better control of their emotions and gain a more in-depth sense of calm.

Surprisingly, it can help a variety of individuals cope and deal with an array of mental health conditions including:

  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Chronic Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Anger
  • Sleep Problems
  • And More!

The Physical and Mental Benefits of MBSR

There are various benefits associated with MBSR, including:

1. Pain Relief

MBSR may help individuals reduce pain and deal with chronic pain conditions. Experts have shown this to be true in individuals with arthritis, where their quality of life vastly improved upon implementation of MBSR techniques.

2. Reducing Stress

MBSR can help you deal with anxiety, reduce it and increase your empathy toward others. It can help you find a place of calm and even ground.

3. Improved Sleep

Stress can greatly reduce sleep quality. By practicing relaxation and calming techniques, you can reduce your stress and also improve your sleep.

4. Decreased Risk of Depression

MBSR approaches negative thought patterns head-on and helps individuals alter their beliefs surrounding them, as well as the beliefs about themselves. In turn, this can reduce your risk of depression, and help you lead a healthier and happier life overall.

5. Reduce Biased Beliefs

When we become caught up in our emotions, it can be hard to differentiate our own biases. This can lead to assumptions, miscommunications, and in some cases, anger. MBSR can help you overcome these biases and shed them. It can help you realize that you don’t know everything and that keeping an open mind is always best.

6. Improved Overall Mood and Cognitive Function

Like meditation, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction can vastly improve cognitive function. Research has noted improvements in mood, visual coding, verbal fluency, memory, visual-spatial processing and executive functioning through meditative techniques implemented in MBSR.

How You Can Practice MBSR At Home

In a typical MBSR class, you will learn how to focus your attention on the body and complete a body scan. This may involve moving through each part of your body, tensing it up, then relaxing it. These classes also teach you how to not fixate on worried thoughts. Instead, you become able to take note of them and move past them. So, how can you do this on your own?

Surprisingly, MBSR can be applied in a variety of places and ways. Here are a few:

Step outside. Take in everything. What does it smell like? How does the air feel when it touches your face? What do you see? Allow these feelings and sensations to pull you in. Really feel it. Take a deep inhale and full exhale. Notice everything about the area, from the plants to the clouds in the sky.

At your next meal, eat it without distractions. Focus on the meal at hand including how it tastes, smells and looks. Slowly chew every bite. Tune into how full you feel and go slow. Take note of the textures and flavors. Eating can truly be a whole adventure all on its own!

Try meditation. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sit in a quiet space by yourself. You can sit and relax, taking in everything around you including your thoughts. But you can also head out on a walk, focusing on everything within that moment.

Do you work at a desk? Set a timer for each hour. When your timer goes off, take note of how you feel. Are you stiff? Are you tensing up? Consider adjusting and moving, giving your body what it needs.

If you worry constantly, try this on for size: Lay back and gaze up into the sky. Imagine your worries being carried away as the clouds pass by. And most importantly, let the worries happen. Don’t try to stop them; just let them come and pass.

Perform yoga and use this time to tune into your body and your breath. Really feel every movement and move with your inhales and exhales. You’ll be surprised by how much you miss out with every movement you make throughout your day.

Become more mindful. If you can, consider signing up for a local MBSR class or an online version. It might be the exact techniques and cues you need to de-stress and relax. We all need balance, but sometimes, you need to learn how to juggle it all. This is where Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction comes in. It can help you deal with your emotions, feelings and thoughts; in turn, you can gain more control over them — rather than the other way around.

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