Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
What Is MBSR?
MBSR is an approach to using Mindfulness to help with stress reduction. It’s specifically designed for those who are suffering from stress due to physical illnesses. MBSR takes a practical approach and is normally conducted over a specifically designed course involving both sessions with a trained practitioner and also practices that you will do outside of the session.
MBSR can be considered part of the 3rd Wave of therapies. Whilst it has its roots in ancient Buddhist mindfulness but does not contain any religious element and was founded by present-day Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn.
What does Mindfulness mean in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction?
You probably guessed that one aspect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is Mindfulness! So it’s a good start to understand the basis of Mindfulness.
Despite its recent application to stress reduction, mindfulness itself has its roots in Eastern Buddhist philosophy which dates back over 2,500 years.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, who developed MBSR as a whole, describes mindfulness as “Paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally.”
So imagine taking those negative emotions, thoughts or feelings and simply naming them and seeing them for what they are. Mindfulness is not about trying to blank out your thoughts or ignore them completely, it’s about getting to know your mind.
How does an MBSR program work and how long is it?
MBSR is usually conducted through a formal program of sessions running over approximately 8 weeks. Whilst you’ll be practising certain exercises in the sessions, you’ll also do much of the work outside of the class as day-to-day practices.
How do you practice MBSR exercises?
MBSR practices consist of both formal exercises which require more dedicated attention and some informal day-to-day practices that you can complete in the real world as you go about your daily routine.
Formal practices could include; body scanning, sitting (focusing on breathing, sounds, thoughts and emotions) or mindful walking.
Informal practices might include completing your daily activities with a mindful approach such as when eating, showering or brushing your teeth!
What’s the difference between MBSR and MBCT?
MBSR has been developed more specifically for people with physical illnesses helping to treat not just stress-related mental health conditions that might be caused by their illness. MBCT, on the other hand, is primarily to help those that need support with relapsing depression. Whilst both forms can be extended.