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Health & Balance

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Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction - Topic Overview

Try MBSR on your own

  • When you go outside, take a few deep breaths. What's the air like? Is it warm or cold? How does the warmth or chill feel on your body? Try to accept that feeling and not resist it. Notice any plants, their colors, and the contrast of those colors against the sky and clouds.
  • Eat a meal in silence. Don't do anything but focus on your food. Smell your food before eating it. Notice what your food looks like. Eat slowly, and savor each bite. What flavors do you taste?
  • When you can, take some time at the beginning of your day to sit alone and think. Focus on your breathing. Gaze out the window, and listen to the sounds outdoors. Or take a slow walk by yourself. Count your steps while you breathe in and out.
  • If you can do this at work, try to stop for a few moments each hour. Note how your body feels. Let yourself regroup and let your mind settle before you return to what you were doing.
  • If you struggle with anxiety or "worry thoughts," imagine your mind as a blue sky and your worry thoughts as clouds. Now imagine those worry thoughts floating across your mind's sky, almost the same as you would watch clouds float across the sky. Do not judge or resist your thoughts. Just let them pass by as you watch.

How effective is MBSR?

Studies show that MBSR can reduce stress and help people relax. Studies of people who have type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, chronic pain, and other problems show that MBSR helped some people cope better with symptoms and improved their quality of life.

Research also shows that MBSR helped people sleep better and feel less anxious, and it helped ease depression symptoms. In some people, MBSR also helped improve blood sugar and blood pressure. 1, 2, 3

Taking part in MBSR has been linked to positive changes in the areas of the brain that affect how you pay attention, how you feel, and how you think.4

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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