Overstressed? Studies Show Mindfulness Programs Work Better Than Stress Management Programs

The day my life started changing and accelerating was the day I started learning meditation. I borrowed the book 8-Minute Meditation from a friend. I also started listening to Kosmic Consciousness by Ken Wilber. I have never looked back and my smile is still growing.

Spiritual Brain Chemistry

Spiritual practices like meditation, mindfulness and yoga have a profound effect on our mood. We can attribute much of this mood-enhancing effect to brain chemicals like serotonin [1,2,3], dopamine [4] and GABA [5]. Almost all anti-anxiety drugs target these chemicals .

Related Reading: Psychedelic Buddha: How to Get High Without Drugs

Science Evaluates Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

These ancient spiritual techniques are starting to enter scientific treatment of anxiety. In 2014, mindfulness was compared to “normal” treatments for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). It was the first randomized controlled trial of this type [6].

Mindfulness Beats Stress Management over 8 Weeks

The 93 participants were randomly assigned to one of two programs. One was a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The other, the control, was a Stress Management Education (SMM) program. The programs lasted for 8 weeks.

The researchers found that the mindfulness based program worked a lot better than the stress management program. Mindfulness performed better on four out of five anxiety measurement scales. On the fifth scale both programs performed equally well. It was speculated that they were equal on the fifth scale because it focused on physiological symptoms. It ignored psychological symptoms. Mindfulness also led to the greatest increase in positive self-statements.

About Vegard:
Vegard Gjerde is one of the two founders of Global Harmony Crew.

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References:
[1] Bujatti M, Riederer P. “Serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine metabolites in transcendental meditation-technique”. Journal of Neural Transmission, 1976.
[2] Arita, H. “Anterior prefrontal cortex and serotonergic system activation during Zen meditation practice induces negative mood improvement and increased alpha band in EEG.” Rinsho Shinkeigaku, 2012.
[3] Mohandas, E. “Neurobiology of Spirituality”. Mens Sana Monographs, 2008.
[4] Kjaer, T.W. et al. “Increased dopamine tone during meditation-induced change of consciousness”. Brain Research: Cognitive Brain Research, 2002.
[5] Elias A. N., et al. “Ketosis with enhanced GABAergic tone promotes physiological changes in transcendental meditation”. Medical Hypotheses, 2000.
[6] Hoge, E. A., et al. “Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness Meditation for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Effects on Anxiety and Stress Reactivity”. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2014.