What is mindfulness-based stress reduction?

- April 28, 2023

Initially designed to ease the suffering of patients who didn’t respond to any traditional treatment, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) has proven to be a highly effective therapy for a broad variety of illnesses and ailments. These range from anxiety and depression over cancer and autoimmune diseases to chronic pain, insomnia and others. Developed by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979, it is now available in over 30 countries and offered in over 200 medical centres around the world.

The goal of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is to help people ground themselves in the present moment, and observe as well as experience their physical sensations, emotions and thoughts in a nonjudgmental way while aiming for acceptance of what is. Studies have shown that by practising the different mindfulness techniques the program teaches, students will become more adept at coping with everyday life’s stressors, decrease their emotional reactivity to adversity and suffering, enhance their sense of calm and inner peace and experience an overall higher quality of life. 

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is not only extremely popular because it has worked for so many people but also because it is accessible to pretty much anyone and very flexible. It can be easily customised to individual needs.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction techniques are taught over the course of an eight-week program with weekly group sessions of 2,5 hours, 45 minutes of daily homework and a 7-hour retreat day. Participants learn diaphragmatic Breathing (“Belly Breathing”), mindfulness meditation, gratitude journal,  body scan, yoga and group dialogue on stress and life skills.

In the next section, this blog post will explain what Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is used for before we dive deep into the scientifically proven benefits of this therapy. In the last section, we will provide some information on how you can explore various mindfulness as well as other healing modalities at New Life Portugal.

mindfulness based stress reduction

What is Mindfulness-based stress reduction used for?

We feel stressed when we don’t know how to appropriately respond to physical or emotional threats. These can be real or imagined. Stress can be caused by many things, among them our work, private life (e.g. relationships, being a caregiver to a loved one, children, etc.), our financial situation or an illness.

If we don’t address the stress and find ways to cope with it, it will seep into every area of our lives and eventually not only affect our mental but also our physical health. Stress has been found to be associated with heart disease, migraines, autoimmune diseases, backache, hypertension, stroke, obesity and high cholesterol. The solution is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.

Scientific studies have proven that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction eases the symptoms of a broad variety of mental and physical health conditions (see list).

This therapy technique isn’t aimed at any particular diagnosis and has a quite generic application in the sense that it helps practitioners relate differently to their pain and suffering – regardless of what that looks like for each person. MBSR is often used in addition to and complements other treatments.

  • Heart disease
  • Type-2 Diabetes
  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Chronic pain and Fybromialga
  • Skin disorders
  • Insomnia
  • Addiction
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Psoriasis
mindfulness based stress reduction

Benefits of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

It always depends on the person and their circumstances which ones and how they experience the wide-ranging benefits of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. It has been found that MBSR not only has consistent positive effects on your overall mental and physical health but actually the potential to change how your brain is wired. MBSR benefits include:

  • Reduces anxiety + depression and prevents depressive relapse
    There are numerous studies that prove that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction significantly reduces panic attacks as well as anxiety and the symptoms of severe and reoccurring depression. It has also shown good results in preventing depressive relapse. MBSR works for adults as well as for teenagers and can help pregnant women.
  • Pain relief + improved pain tolerance
    A study examined the levels of psychological distress, anxiety and depression in people who suffer from chronic physical diseases and found that MBSR positively affects them. Another study looked at athletes who had suffered a severe injury that prevented them from participating in their sport for three months or longer and found that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction helped improve their pain tolerance as well as their awareness.

New Life Portugal Programs

Especially if you have never practised mindfulness before it is best to do so under the guidance of an experienced teacher. If you already have a mindfulness practice you may yearn to dive a bit deeper or explore different modalities and their benefits.

Our mission is to help anyone who wants to cultivate sustainable wellbeing. Our wellness retreat and recovery centre in the stunning setting of the Serra da Estrela nature park in Portugal offers a wide range of therapeutic elements rarely found all in one place – with a variety of mindfulness techniques as one of the pillars of our program.

We do not offer an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course but five of our highly-qualified team members are trained in MBSR as well as other mindfulness therapies and incorporate its techniques in the work they do at New Life.

With their help and guidance and within a supportive community setting you will get to explore and gain new insights from mindfulness meditation, yoga, journalling, group workshops and discussions, counselling and/or life coaching. We help you plan your stay according to your specific needs and goals and guide you step-by-step through your chosen program. If you have any questions or require more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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