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Improving Physical and Mental Wellness With Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

silhouette of a person seated in meditative pose at dawn shown improving physical and mental wellness with mindfulness based stress reduction

Experiencing stress is an unavoidable part of life. According to the article “What Is Stress?” by the American Institute of Stress (AIS), in the United States alone, 55% of adults feel stressed throughout their day. While stress is a normal part of life, it can harm your physical and mental wellness when unmanaged. Meditative therapies like mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) have developed as a tool to support mind-body wellness.

At Insight Recovery Center, we are committed to the daily practice of holistic care, like mindfulness, as tools for healing in recovery. Meditative therapies like MBSR can give you the necessary tools to build healthy practices for your long-term physical and mental wellness. Yet, you may wonder how stress can have a detrimental impact on your physical and mental wellness.

What Is Stress?

According to MedlinePlus, stress is how your mind and body respond to the challenges and demands of life. Stress is a natural reaction to danger; it is your fight-or-flight response to different situations. Moreover, what you perceive as a dangerous situation can come in many different forms.

For example, feeling stressed about a deadline at work can motivate you to get your work done on time. Therefore, experiencing stress is not inherently unhealthy, as it often helps us manage difficult situations. However, when you experience unaddressed long-term stress, it can have a negative impact on your physical and mental wellness.

Types of Stress

As noted in the article “Stress and Your Health” by MedlinePlus, there are two main types of stress that can impact your well-being. Listed below are the two types of stress you may experience in your daily life:

  • Acute stress
    • Helps manage short-term situations, such as giving a presentation
    • Typically occurs when you do something new or exciting
  • Chronic stress
    • Strained relationships
    • Financial issues
    • Work stress
    • Unemployment
    • Health issues
    • Your body is constantly on high alert
    • Normalizes long-term physical and psychological distress

The article “Americans Anticipate Higher Stress at the Start of 2023 and Grade Their Mental Health Worse” from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) states chronic stressors like over money, job security, and relationships have increased for Americans. Therefore, the symptoms of chronic stress can be difficult to recognize when they permeate your daily life.

Symptoms of Stress

According to the MedlinePlus articles, some of the signs and symptoms of stress include:

  • Headaches
  • Stomach issues
  • Sleep issues
  • Weight issues
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Tiredness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Easily upset
  • Sadness
  • Anger

Recognizing the symptoms of chronic stress highlights how it can harm your physical and mental wellness.

How Stress Impacts Physical and Mental Wellness

As noted in an article from the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, long-term stressors and other factors like maladaptive coping patterns can impact your well-being. Thus, a lack of healthy coping strategies can lead to maladaptive stress responses that manifest as physical symptoms.

There is a high co-occurrence between chronic stress and health risks like high blood pressure, heart disease, and upper respiratory diseases. For example, when you are under a lot of stress, you may experience symptoms like chest pains, headaches, and more frequent colds as your body has to work harder to function while stuck in fight-or-flight mode.

Furthermore, persistent life stress and traumatic stress in childhood and adulthood can negatively impact your psychological well-being. Psychological distress can lead to mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, acute stress disorder (ASD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Learning how to manage your stress is an important part of discovering your recovery. However, you may be wondering how you can manage stressors you cannot immediately change in your life. Life stressors like money and relationship issues are not easily resolved. Therefore, therapies like MBSR can support you in developing healthy coping patterns for your long-term physical and mental wellness.

What Is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction?

According to an article from the North American Journal of Medical Sciences, MBSR is a meditation therapy that was originally designed for stress management. However, now MBSR is utilized for a variety of physical and mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, hypertension, and diabetes. MBSR specifically uses mindfulness-based meditation to help you deepen your understanding of the relationship between your body and mind. As noted in the APA article “Mindfulness Meditation: A Research-Proven Way to Reduce Stress,” mindfulness meditation is built on attention and acceptance.

How MBSR Supports Physical and Mental Wellness

Throughout an eight-week group course of MBSR, you will learn the two key parts of mindfulness meditation. You will learn how to focus your attention on what is happening in the present moment. Through daily practices like breathing exercises and yoga, you can deepen self-awareness as you become more aware of your breath and the physical sensations in your body.

With guided daily mindfulness practices, you not only become more aware of your body, but you also start to recognize the connection between your physical body and your thoughts and feelings. As the mind-body connection becomes clearer, you move into acceptance. With acceptance, you learn to acknowledge and let go of those unhealthy thoughts and feelings without self-judgment. As a result, MBSR can give you the tools to address unhealthy stress responses for your long-term physical and mental wellness.

Healing Physical and Mental Wellness at Insight Recovery Center

At Insight Recovery Center, we believe in the importance of healing the whole person in mind, body, and spirit. Chronic stress highlights how psychological distress can negatively impact your physical wellness and vice versa. Therefore, recognizing the mind-body connection can support you in healing your physical and mental wellness. We are committed to providing a variety of holistic approaches to care that considers your individual needs. When you have the tools to deepen your self-awareness of your mind and body, you can truly start to discover your recovery.

Stress is a normal part of life and, in short bursts, can be an important tool for self-preservation. However, chronic stress can lead to physical and psychological distress that impedes your ability to function in your life. Moreover, chronic stress has a mind-body connection that can lead to maladaptive coping mechanisms like substance use to suppress your distress. Holistic care like mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can support mind-body healing with meditative practices like mindfulness meditation to support more awareness of the self. Insight Recovery Center is committed to providing holistic and integrative care that supports healing the whole person as you discover your recovery. You can learn more about the benefits of MBSR by calling us today at (828) 845-8325.