Culture & Lifestyle / Keep Calm: You Need This Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Program

Keep Calm: You Need This Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Program

Culture & Lifestyle Aug 28, 2019

As unhealthy feelings of stress rates continue to skyrocket, it’s more important than ever that we learn about scientifically proven practices that can help increase resiliency. Read on for an overview on this Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Program which is scientifically proven to reduce stress.


Why Should We Worry About Stress?

Because around the globe levels of unhealthy stress being reported alongside rates of anxiety and depression are far too high. In India for example a 2018 report showed 89% of the population the suffering from stress higher than the global average of 86%. The United Kingdom is not far behind with 74% of the population reporting feeling so stressed at one point during 2017 that they were overwhelmed and/or unable to cope and Canada’s rates are also increasing with over 6.5 million reporting high-stress levels in 2018. These alarming rates stress the importance of stigma-free discussions on mental health paired with an increase in education on natural, holistic therapies, practices and modalities that can help reduce stress rates. One form proven to make impact (without including any prescription drugs) is the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program. Read on to learn why we recommend it as a helpful program and on how to access it.


What is Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR)?

Developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center by Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn (whose impact in the field of mindfulness has been and continues to be massive), MBSR has been around since 1970 and was originally used to aid hospital patients. It’s since expanded to populations outside of the hospital environment due to the evidence-based benefits it’s proven to have from several research studies and is a program that continues to gain popularity in the field of medicine.

MBSR is an 8-week program with an additional day-long retreat in which a professionally certified facilitator takes participants through a fusion of mindfulness-based practices to help cope with chronic pain, anxiety, depression and stress. Participants engage in a formal weekly session but are also required to uphold daily practices to get the full benefit of the program. One of the main practices is a guided body-scan meditation where participants bring attention to various parts of their body to increase awareness on any tension and support in relaxation. Other key practices include different forms of mindful meditation, yoga, mindful eating, silent meditation and journaling all designed to help participants increase their ability to pay attention and heighten their awareness on thoughts, habits, emotions and patterns. This increased awareness can help us make more conscious choices to improve overall well-being.


Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Program
Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Program : MBSR program creator Jon Kabat-Zinn teaching a group mindfulness meditation. Photo Credit:


What Are The Benefits Of MBSR?

MBSR helps participants move from the initial impulse to react (think of a time for example you were stressed and immediately reacted by tensing up your shoulders, MBSR helps us become aware of these reactions to better manage them. Check-in with your body right now, are you holding any tension in your shoulders that could led to long-term stiffness? Is your jaw clenched or relaxed? Have you stretched your hands out today?).

With it’s core practices involving mindfulness and meditation, MBSR can help increase the gray matter in your brain (which improves concentration) and increase connectivity between the amygdala and other parts of the brain that support emotional regulation.

MBSR is proven to help (often in conjunction with other psychological or medical treatments) with a wide-variety of conditions including (but not limited to) anxiety, asthma, chronic illness, depression, mood disorder, cancer, fatigue, headaches, grief, PTSD, insomnia, heart disease, eating disorders, substance addiction and stress. Feeling totally healthy right now? That’s great but MBSR is still for you! Research shows MBSR increases resiliency and promotes general psychological well-being in healthy people too. As we’ve mentioned earlier, the importance of creating your own mental health and/or spiritual maintenance plan is a proactive step of self-care that everyone should take (it’s so helpful to have awareness on calming strategies that soothe us before stress hits).


Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Program
Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Program: Mindfulness meditation continues to gain popularity in the medical field. Photo credit:


How Can You Participate In MBSR?

Different countries have different availability and coverage for the program. In Canada for example, with a Doctor’s referral, residents of Ontario can take the course at a hospital as part of their health-care treatment (generally at no-cost). Several great  charitable organizations (Mindfulness Everyday for example) also offer MBSR at a cost that ranges from $400-600 Canadian dollars. Your best bet is to do a Google search based on your area to see if there’s any in-person courses available. If there’s no programs offered nearby, or the financial piece is a challenge, don’t stress…

A free, online version of MBSR is available here and the website includes even more information on the program in case (and hopes) you want to dive deeper.


Main Image Credit    

Rachna Sethi

Rachna Sethi


Rachna (@mindfullyyours)is a graduate of the Applied Mindfulness Meditation program from the University of Toronto, a certified Educator with two bachelor degrees and a diploma in Art Therapy. She's dedicated to living with a compassionate approach. Committed to helping people integrate Mindfulness...