What Is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and How Can It Help My Recovery?

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What Is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and How Can It Help My Recovery?

Suffering from a mental health condition can be heavy emotionally, especially if left untreated. Complications can make the person suffering live a life controlled by fear. This can often lead to isolation, unhappiness, increased risk for substance use disorder (SUD), and overall decreased enjoyment of life. What happens if you have a dual diagnosis, such as SUD alongside a psychiatric disability? This can be difficult for someone going through the process of recovery. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a highly beneficial form of meditation therapy that can significantly help you while in recovery. 

What Is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)?

According to the National Library of Medicine, MBSR is a non-pharmacological approach for various conditions such as: 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Substance abuse relapse
  • Skin and immune disorders
  • Hypertension
  • Chronic pain

MBSR is a type of
meditation therapy. It was originally designed to make use of mindfulness meditation for stress. The intention of MBSR is to lessen the level of suffering associated with physical, psychosomatic, and psychiatric disorders. According to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, MBSR is the most popular Western clinical adaptation therapy for the use of wellness strategy. It was developed by a molecular biologist named Jon Kabat-Zinn to enhance recovery. 

Benefits of Therapy

MBSR can improve the level of pain someone may be feeling. A person who practices mindfulness may feel more equipped to handle the negative side effects that come with pain compared to someone who does not follow the program. Practicing MBSR can:

  • Increase mindfulness
  • Provide self-compassion
  • Improve self-care
  • Reduce continuous negative thoughts
  • Increase the ability to be aware of current feelings and experiences

How Is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Useful in Recovery?

As we know, addiction can cause serious harmful effects on our bodies. If left untreated, addiction can last a lifetime and lead to death. Therefore, it is vital to prevent relapse and ensure full recovery. 

Research indicates that MBSR can help to prevent relapse. Furthermore, the mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) for addiction are eight weeks in duration and delivered in a group therapy plan. MBSR has been studied as a treatment for several addictive behaviors in the past ten years, such as: 

  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • The use of illicit substances such as heroin and cocaine
  • Opioid misuse

Participants are instructed by a certified clinician to practice mindful breathing exercises and body scan meditations. Therapeutic homework is assigned which consists of informal and formal practices. The tasks are intended to help the participant monitor their symptoms such as cravings and side effects. 

MBIs prevent an event of relapse by modulating affective, cognitive, and psychophysiological processes essential to reward processing and self-regulation. 

Trauma-Related Treatment

Trauma comes in many different forms. Whether someone was a witness of assault, dealt with shock in the military, experienced a natural disaster, was a victim of domestic violence, or dealt with a more personal stressful event, trauma can happen to anyone. There are several different medications and types of trauma-informed care to assist in treatment. 

PTSD can develop once one has experienced trauma. Certain trauma can make this person feel that they or their loved ones are in great danger. Furthermore, approximately six out of ten men go through one phase of trauma in their lifetime such as physical assault, witnessing death, or combat. Females are more likely to experience child sexual abuse or adult sexual assault. 

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, mindfulness has been shown to help with symptoms of PTSD. While Cognitive Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure have been more effective treatments for PTSD, mindfulness can also prepare individuals for therapy in general. Mindfulness can provide people with the confidence and skills needed to help them handle their emotions. 

Learning to cope with one’s feelings can make retracing the traumatic event in one’s mind easier when one is asked to talk about the incident while in treatment. Practicing mindfulness can help individuals be more aware of the present moment, allowing them to healthily release certain feelings rather than acting out of impulse. 

Therapy in Your Everyday Life

MBSR not only treats stress but several other conditions, such as depression, anxiety, SUD, and even cancer. This form of meditation teaches compassion, treats psychological distress, and includes methods to develop emotional-cognitive control. MBSR can help individuals recover from stress, trauma, and even prevent relapse in recovery. 

Recovery already comes with a list of challenges that can be very difficult to cope with. Therefore, finding the right therapy is important for a smooth healing process. MBSR allows individuals to express their emotions clearly, allowing them to gain more positives while in recovery. 

Explore the benefits of MBSR therapy to reduce physical and psychological suffering. Taking action to stay healthy both mentally and physically is always beneficial for individuals and their loved ones.