August 2021

Mindfulness & Meditation are Picking up Momentum

The COVID-19 pandemic has generated a huge amount of stress and anxiety. People are increasingly turning to mindfulness meditation practices for relief. It’s important for practitioners to be open to these practices and to understand the evidence, which might help with stress relief for healthcare professionals and patients alike.

Mindfulness is a practice that comes from Buddhist theory. It involves focusing the mind to be aware of only the present moment, aiming to reach a meditative state. Being non-judgmental of one’s experience is an important part of the practice – thoughts may arise that draw the mind away from the present. The goal is to gently guide the mind back without frustration or judgement.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is the most well-studied form of mindfulness, and there’s actually a fair amount of evidence supporting its use. Several studies show that completing an 8-week course on mindfulness can reduce stress in otherwise healthy adults, including working adults and college students. There’s also evidence that it can improve sleep quality in people with insomnia.

If patients express concerns about stress, anxiety and sleeping problems, ask if they’ve considered mindfulness practices. There are an increasing number of online resources and apps that can help guide patients through the practice in the safety of their own home. There’s also no reason to expect any safety concerns – mindfulness exercises are much safer and more sustainable for long-term use than many medications for these conditions. Even so, mindfulness is becoming big business. It’s important to separate the evidence from the many claims for its use, and to set appropriate expectations for patients. Mindfulness is called a “practice” for a reason – patients shouldn’t expect overnight results, and will need to practice regularly and consistently to see the benefits.

We recently updated our Mindfulness monograph with several new studies – check it out to learn more. Also don’t forget about our other Mind-Body Intervention monographs for information on other related practices.

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