Emotional HealthPsychology

What is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Its Benefits

4 Mins read

Stress, anxiety, depression among other saddening emotions are enough to keep one on their knees. Learning to cope with them is a skill that should be learned. This led to the development of the MBRS (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) program- a practical eight-week evidence-based program that offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to assist people with stress, anxiety, depression and pain.

Mindfulness – a Buddhist practice whose essence is focusing on one thing in the moment-each breath you take, each step as you walk, the sights or sounds around you. Mindfulness is achieved through mindful practices such as meditation (mindful meditation) and yoga.

What is the definition of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

This is a practical eight week evidence based group program developed in the University Of Massachusetts Medical Center by Jon Kabat-Zinn in the 1970s that  offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to assist people in coping and managing stress and anxiety related problems.

MBSR is based on non-judging, non-striving, acceptance, letting go, beginners mind, patience, trust, and non-centering.

The History of MBRS

Jon Kabat-Zinn started the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction in the University Of Massachusetts Medical Center in the 1970s to help out patients who were unresponsive to medications and who were under stress and anxiety.

Jon Kabat

His results concluded that the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program has beneficial effects, including stress reduction, relaxation, and improvements to quality of life, but that it does not help prevent or cure disease

Nearly twenty years later the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine and the Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School has been focused on his MBRS program.

Although the MBRS program was founded from spiritual Buddhist believes and customs, the program itself is purely secular.

The Program

The Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program comprises of a specific set of principles as stated in the Center for Mindfulness website;

  • Making the process a challenge rather than a chore and thus turning the awareness of one’s life mindfully into an adventure in living rather than one more thing one “has” to do for oneself to be healthy;
  • Emphasis on the importance of individual effort and motivation and regular disciplined practice of the meditation in its various forms, whether one “wants” to practice on a particular day or not;
  • The urgent lifestyle change that is required to undertake formal mindfulness practice, since it requires a significant time commitment (in the clinic 45 minutes a day, six days a week minimally);

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction exercises

  1. Mindfulness Techniques
  2. Focus Mindfulness
  3. Awareness Mindfulness

Benefits of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

Benefits of mindfulness based stress reduction

The Mindfulness Based stress Reduction program is based on helping those suffering from several medical and/ or psychological problems (Center for Mindfulness, 2017) related but not limited to;

  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Chronic illness
  • Eating disorders
  • Fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Grief
  • Headaches
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Pain
  • Post traumatic stress disorder
  • Skin disorders
  • Sleep problems
  • Work, family, and financial stress (Center for Mindfulness, 2017).

Some of these problems are too broad to be cured by MBRS alone, but from Jon’s research and work, it was discovered that MBRS helps in lessening and easing the symptoms and paving a way for the needed prescription and drugs to work.

The mindfulness based stress reduction also helps you to become more self-aware and present by teaching you how to use meditation and other mindfulness practices to be more entered and balanced as is the ways of mindfulness.

Who needs the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program

The MBRS program is mainly based on the stress reduction side of things. You can join if you are looking to;

  • Approach your life with more composure, energy, understanding and enthusiasm
  • Develop the ability to cope more effectively with both short-term and long-term stressful situations
  • Enhance your ability to manage and reduce pain levels in many instances
  • Improve your focus, resilience and capacity to recover more quickly from challenging events

Therefore, anyone can sign up into the program.

Whether you are stressed, anxious, wanting to help a friend or family member, in need of more knowledge on mindfulness or just curious, you can take part in it.

Several online platforms provide the program for free and some for a small fee. I will list the following two that you can easily follow up with online;

  1. PalouseMindfulness
  2. Center for mindfulness

Clinically diagnosed patients who suffer from anxiety and stress can greatly benefit from the program. Identifying such patients is critical but easier since stress and anxiety disorders are mainly self diagnosed.

Signs of stress and anxiety

I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder(GAD) a few months prior to me writing this article. GAD is characterized by persistent and excessive worry about a number of different things. Therefore I know a thing or two about stress and anxiety.

According to Healthline and WebMD stress can result in the following physcical symptoms;

  • Low energy;
  • Headaches;
  • Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea;
  • Aches, pains, and tense muscles;
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat;
  • Insomnia;
  • Frequent colds and infections;
  • Loss of sexual desire and/or ability.

Plus, some emotional/mental symptoms may be felt;

  • Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts;
  • Trouble learning new information;
  • Forgetfulness, disorganization, confusion;
  • Difficulty in making decisions;
  • Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed;
  • Frequent crying spells or suicidal thoughts;
  • Feelings of loneliness or worthlessness;
  • Little interest in appearance, punctuality;
  • Nervous habits, fidgeting, feet tapping;
  • Increased frustration, irritability, edginess;
  • Overreaction to petty annoyances.

As much as stress and anxiety disorders are self diagnosed, its important to remember that some of the above physical symptoms can be as a result of other medical conditions, so make sure to consult your doctor.

Bottom Line

MBRS is a powerful yet easy and less time consuming method of reducing your stress and anxiety so that you can be able to be your powerful better self without the world weighing you down.

I will be glad if this article helped you, HAPPY MEDITATING!

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About author
I'm a psychology enthusiast and a fried chicken lover. I write bite sized articles unpacking the complexities of the human mind. The mission is to advocate for what's more important in life - the pursuit of the truth and the highest good one can do with that truth - for themselves, the people around them and the society as a whole.
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