Mindfulness Techniques Can Counter Stress, from the Harvard Mental Health Letter

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Practicing mindfulness techniques can help ease stress.

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Traffic jams. Job woes. Visits from the in-laws. Life is full of stress. One of the best ways to counter stress is to pay attention to what is going on. That may sound counterintuitive, but paying attention is the first step toward cultivating mindfulness. As the October 2011 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter reports, mindfulness is an effective therapeutic technique for a range of mental health problems (as well as physical ones).

The practice of mindfulness, which has its roots in Buddhism, teaches people to live each moment as it unfolds. The idea is to focus attention on what is happening in the present and accept it without judgment. Although a variety of mindfulness techniques exist, most involve some type of meditation—a focus on a particular word, phrase, or physical experience that helps calm both mind and body.

Dr. Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, notes that mindfulness meditation can help prevent relapse in people who have had several past episodes of major depression. Research also suggests that the practice of mindfulness can help alleviate anxiety and reduce physical symptoms such as pain or hot flashes. The article discusses several do-it-yourself mindfulness meditation techniques that people can try on their own at home.

Read the full-length article: “Mind over matter”

Also in this issue:

  •     Questions raised about the cause of autism spectrum disorders
  •     Natural supplements for mental health
  •     Electronic messages may improve depression care
  •     More evidence that varenicline (Chantix) harms the heart
  •     A tribute to Dr. Aaron T. Beck, “father” of cognitive behavioral therapy

The Harvard Mental Health Letter is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $59 per year. Subscribe at http://www.health.harvard.edu/mental or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).

Media: Contact Raquel Schott at Raquel_Schott(at)hms(dot)harvard(dot)edu for a complimentary copy of the newsletter, or to receive our press releases directly.

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Raquel Schott
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