With the holiday season in full gear, many people find themselves in overdrive attending parties and dinners. For some people who suffer from social anxiety or loneliness, December can be even more challenging. Therapy and medications help lots of people, but not everyone. A substantial body of research supports the benefits of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). It’s an eight-week program developed in 1979, initially to help patients suffering from chronic pain. The program has evolved into one that offers relief for people dealing with stress, anxiety and depression.

One study, published online in August 2012 in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience found that MBSR lessened negative emotions associated with social anxiety disorder. In another study published in the October 2012 Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, patients either received MBSR or were put on a waiting list. The participants who received MBSR saw a reduction in feelings of loneliness, while the wait-listed group saw increases in loneliness. The participants also saw a reduction in inflammation – the cause of of loneliness related health risks including heart attack and stroke. MBSR training teaches people to be observant to their current experience – in a nonjudgemental way. “A mindful perspective teaches people how to apply a brake between a single lonely thought and what could be a resulting chain of distressing thoughts and feelings,” says psychologist J. David Creswell of Carnegie Mellon University, co-author of the study on loneliness. The website http://tinyurl.com/findMBSR has information about the program….. Scientific American Mind    January/February  2013

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