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Reducing Stress and Anxiety


Anxiety and Panic Attacks 

Earlier this year a study was published that showed just 8 weeks of mindfulness training can create significant changes in regions of the brain associated with attention, memeory, stress, and empathy.  http://www.massgeneral.org/about/pressrelease.aspx?id=1329

Being mindful is the exact opposite of our 'flight, fight or freeze' part of our brain, the part of our brain that is activated when we feel threatened or in danger, the part that is activated when we are anxious or experience panic. 

When we are able to remain mindful, calm, non-impulsive, and feeling safe, we can free up our mental resources and use them more effectively for things like learning and problem-solving. 


50 Ways To Relive Stress
      
 http://www.theemotionmachine.com/50-stress-relievers-that-take-5-minutes-or-less

Around the world scientists are researching the effects of mindfulness and meditation practice. Results are showing that Mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques can help to reduce our anxiety levels and teach us new ways to manage stress. The results of various clinical studies and research speak for themselves, highlighting benefits such as:

  • Fewer visits to your GP
  • An ongoing reduction in anxiety three years after taking a mindfulness course
  • An increase in disease-fighting antibodies, suggesting improvements to the immune system
  • Longer and better quality sleep, with fewer sleep disturbances
  • A reduction in negative feelings like anger, tension and depression
  • Improvements in physical conditions as varied as psoriasis, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

 The evidence in support of mindfulness-based stress reduction is so strong that three-quarters of GPs think it would be beneficial for all patients to learn mindfulness meditation skills.

 

Clinical Research indicates that mindfulness helps reduce:

 

Stress reductionAnxiety and Panic Attacks

A study led by Dr. John Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, investigated the effects of a mindfulness based therapy program on 22 participants with generalised anxiety disorder. 90% of the participants documented significant reductions in anxiety and depression following an 8 week course. Those who also suffered from panic attacks had a significant reduction in attacks and symptoms following the course. At a three year follow up, the researchers found that the improvements had been maintained. 

 

Miller, John J., Ken Fletcher, and Jon Kabat-Zinn. 1995. Three-year follow-up and clinical implications of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention in the treatment of anxiety disorders. General Hospital Psychiatry 17, (3) (05): 192-200.

 

Social Anxiety  

Neuroscientists from Stanford University examined the reactivity of the amygdala in patients suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder. The amygdala is a part of the brain, which among other things, is responsible for generating negative emotions in response to perceived threats. People with anxiety disorders often have exaggerated reactivity in this area. After an 8 week mindfulness course the patients reported less negative emotions and greater self-esteem. Using fMRI the researchers found that the practitioners had actually reduced the reactivity of their amygdala. 

 

Goldin, P. R., & Gross, J. J. (2010). Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on emotion regulation in social anxiety disorder. Emotion, 10(1), 83-91.  

 

Mood Disorders Across a Range of Conditions and Severities

In a comprehensive meta-analysis of 39 scientific studies, totaling 1,140 participants, researchers from Boston University examined the effectiveness of mindfulness-based therapies in alleviating anxiety and depression over a wide range of populations and conditions, including cancer, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, and many other conditions. They found that meditation had a large effect for those clinically diagnosed with anxiety and depression and also had an effect for those with everyday anxiety and mood problems. The researchers think that benefits are enjoyed across such a wide range of conditions because practitioners learn how to work better with difficulties in general and therefore experience less stress. 

Hofmann, S. G., Sawyer, A. T., Witt, A. A., & Oh, D. (2010). The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(2), 169-183.  

 

Regular meditation reduces stress and increases emotional intelligence...and so does taking a mindfulness course

A survey of 350 adults found that participants with greater meditation experience showed higher emotional intelligence, felt less stress and enjoyed better mental health. And people who then undertook a course in meditation improved their scores.

 

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