Tag Archive: stress-reduction


A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook

by Bob Stahl, PhD and Elisha Goldstein, PhD

I have a confession: I am a huge fan of Jon Kabat-Zinn.  Dr. Kabat-Zinn is the founder/father of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, a non-religious form of meditation, that is based on training our consciousness to be in the “present moment”.  This type of meditation can be learned though attending 8-week MBSR classes or clinics (of which there are presently none in Oklahoma), figuring it out from Kabat-Zinn’s book: Full Catastrophe Living, or by attending professional training programs.  Dr. Kabat-Zinn leads such programs through the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY and Watsonville, CA…neither of which are convenient to Edmond Oklahoma.  While I may still attend one of these courses eventually, I was thrilled to find another option:  “A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook.” Written by two of Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s students, Bob Stahl, PhD and Elisha Goldstein, PhD., this workbook presents Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Stress Reduction program (MBSR) in an easily accessible workbook-style that is intended for self-study by individuals.

A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook does a wonderful job of leading the individual step-by-step into a meditative practice while explaining the mind-body connections.  It includes mp3 files of guided meditations, a “must” for beginners, and includes sections on mind-body yoga as well as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approaches for anxiety and stress. Although it would be preferable to attend the full eight week MBSR program, this workbook is a delight for those who are unable to do so, yet desire the benefits of mindful living.

 

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n64272810705_9010I had the pleasure of watching Dave Ramsey’s Town Hall for Hope last night. I like Dave Ramsey’s approach to money and I often recommend his “Financial Peace” program to my patients who are struggling with financial difficulties. I appreciate his take on the family’s budget as being just that: the outline of the family’s priorities as determined by the entire family together. His focus on personal responsibility resonates with me as well. I thought his presentation was uplifting and encouraging as he reiterated his common sense financial fundamentals to allay the “spirit of fear” that has come over most of America. If you missed it, I would encourage you to check out his website: www.townhallforhope.com .

Mr. Ramsey concluded his presentation with three action steps to combat “fear, panic, and hysteria.” They are: “take action, don’t participate in loser talk, and be giving”. I was struck by the need to apply these same principles in all areas of our life where we experience hopelessness: concern about a down-turned economy, dealing with difficult life situations, and most certainly, dealing with depression. Hopelessness can be one of the most challenging aspects of depression due to its invasive and destructive nature.

Let’s look at each step of the action plan as it pertains to mental health:

Take Action: “Get up, take action, get moving.” My treatment plans almost always include a recommendation for exercise. This type of “action” gets people off the couch and “out of their heads” at least for the moment. The mood enhancing effects of exercise have been well documented: improving levels of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters in the brain, boosting endorphins, releasing muscle tension, reducing stress –hormone cortisol levels, as well as improving sleep, confidence, and potentially reducing isolation. Exercise and music therapy remain some of the best non-pharmacologic steps individuals can take to improve their mental and physical health.

Don’t Participate in Loser Talk: This is one of the basic principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Specifically, don’t stay stuck in negative thinking. There really is power in positive thinking. Seek to identify and correct any distortions of thought that might be keeping you mired in negativity. Hopelessness is associated with many such “loser thoughts” that lead to poor self-esteem and creating a self-fulfilling negative spiral of thoughts and beliefs. Surround your self with optimistic and encouraging people and avoid those besieged with the “Spirit of Eeyore”.

Be Giving: Of all the recommendations I make to patients, giving can have the most profound effects on peoples’ lives. Giving is empowering. It improves self-esteem, imparts a sense of connectedness, and can foster an optimistic attitude. Altruism is one of the surest ways to restore hope as well as restoring an individual’s sense of purpose and meaning. Being a part of a cause larger than oneself and the feeling of making a difference in others’ lives are crucial for mental well-being. Giving, especially gifts of time and service, can grant a person perspective thus enabling him to look beyond his problems for a little while.

So no matter what obstacles or challenges you might be facing in your life, I join with Dave Ramsey in encouraging you to choose HOPE now.

A small study in Japan (n=13) looked at the autonomic, neuro-immunological and psychological responses to wrapped warm footbaths.   “Warm wrapped footbaths” were associated with an increase in parasympathetic activity and decrease in sympathetic activity as measured by serum cortisol levels and salivary igA levels.  Hmmmm…. so footbaths are relaxing…..  

I actually do recommend bodywork, whether massages or pedicures, to patients to help manage and mitigate the effects of stress.  How much better to get a pedicure than to pop an extra benzo.