Wednesday, February 12, 2014

When a Professional Gets Burnt Out: Rediscovering What We Preach Part 1

Over the years, there have been numerous articles about professionals and burn out.  The general public is becoming aware of burn out.  And the one modality that can help both groups deal with stress is mindfulness-based stress reduction or MBSR.

Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn first created MBSR in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. The National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has provided a number of grants to research the efficacy of the MBSR program in promoting healing. Completed studies have found that pain-related drug utilization was decreased, and activity levels and feelings of self-esteem increased, for a majority of participants.

For a history of the Center for Mindfulness at UMASS, click here

Studies of health care providers who use MBSR suggest that there is a decreased perception of stress and greater self-compassion. Job burnout and psychological stress were also decreased.

So just what is MBSR and how does it work?

MBSR is a behavioral program that uses the psychological concept of mindfulness to help with coping skills, reduce pain and increase mental focus.  Juliet Adams, founder of explains mindfulness through the ABC’s of Mindfulness:

A. is for awareness.  Becoming more aware of what you are thinking and doing – what’s going on in your mind and body.
B. is for “just being” with your experience.  Avoiding the tendency to respond on auto-pilot and feed problems by creating your own story.
C. is for seeing things and responding more wisely.  By creating a gap between the experience and our reaction, we can make wiser choices.

MBSR includes developing a sense of peace, heightened awareness,  and tranquility through regular meditation and relaxation.  MBSR helps to cope emotionally and physically with everyday stress, challenges and demands.  It is bringing awareness to the present moment – while trying to not allow your mind to wander onto other topics past or future.  In his Center, Kabat-Zinn has seen over 18,000 individuals who have reported a decrease in physical symptoms of stress, increased ability to relax, reduction in pain levels, greater energy and enthusiasm for life, and improved self-esteem.

Part of MBSR involves breathing - not unlike Lamaze!  Watch Dr. Kabat-Zin here: 

References and resources:
Davis, D.M. and Hayes, J.A. (2012)  What are the benefits of Mindfulness.  American Psychological Association. Vol 45, No 7.

Fjorback, L.O. (2012) Mindfulness and bodily distress.  Danish Medical Journal.

Goodman, J.H. et al. (2014) CALM Pregnancy: results of a pilot study of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for perinatal anxiety. Archives of Womens Mental Health.

Shapiro, S. et al. (2005) Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction for Health Care Professionals: Results from a Randomized Trial.  International Journal of Stress Management Vol. 12, No 2. 164-176.

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