Mindfulness (MBSR)

How it works

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) helps people to stop feeling overwhelmed by how much they have to do, worrying about the future or brooding about the past by learning to focus on the present without being judgemental. Rooted in the ancient spiritual practice of mindfulness, it uses meditation techniques like breathing and yoga to help awareness of the here and now, and stay calm. Brain scans suggest that this helps regulate the part of our brain that influences emotions and improves blood flow to this area.

What it could help

Anxiety, panic, feeling under pressure, concentration, high blood pressure, addictive behaviour.

Evidence base

There is a mounting evidence that it can reduce stress. Researchers describe it as a ‘promising intervention’ in alleviating anxiety and mood problems, but say more research is needed.

What to expect

It’s usually taught in groups over a course of about eight weeks, with sessions lasting a couple of hours or more. There are also shorter introductory courses. You can learn online with a course designed by the Mental Health Foundation Charity; see the ‘bemindful’ link below.


It may sound simple but it’s harder than you think. Don’t let some of the ‘mumbo-jumbo’ language around it put you off. You need to commit time to learning and practising regularly in a quiet, private place. It can be quite expensive.

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An eight-week course costs about £200 to £300. You may be able to access one on the NHS – ask your GP.

How does mindfulness (MBSR) work? – VIDEO

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