View our Free Guide - What is MBSR?

What Does MBSR Treat?

MBSR, or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, was developed in 1979 by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn to provide pain relief. Since its creation, it has been used to help with many health concerns by focusing on the mind-body connection.

Currently, MBSR and its offshoots are used to treat a wide variety of health issues, often in tandem with other methods. Other versions of MBSR used to treat specific conditions include Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Mindfulness-Based Blood Pressure Reduction (MB-BP).

MBSR can help treat depression, anxiety, chronic pain, addiction, hypertension, immune disorders, and more. While MBSR is an avenue of treatment, it should not be the only one and should not be used for medical reasons without the supervision of your doctor. It is a complementary practice and may be helpful in coping with or managing pain.

Pain relief

MBSR has been shown to be helpful for patients experiencing chronic pain, especially in redirecting thoughts and avoiding “pain-catastrophizing,” which occurs when a person feels helpless about their pain or reports an exaggerated amount. Mindfulness can help increase pain tolerance or help give a person the tools to cope with their pain.

While this program will not cure chronic stress, it can aid individuals in reframing how they look at the issue of their pain. This is not a approach to pain management. Instead, MBSR can help individuals see their pain, acknowledge it, accept it, and refocus their attention elsewhere. It is not a magic fix, nor is it meant to take the place of other medical intervention. It is simply a pain management strategy.


Chronic stress is practically an epidemic in our society and over the last several years, we’ve heard about the rise of burnout and stress in the workplace. MBSR can help with recognizing and responding to stress, rather than allowing things to build up until you become reactive.

One of the  benefits of a mindfulness practice is that it gives you time to yourself, to get in tune with your body’s reactions to the world and current stress levels. Even if you aren’t actively thinking about an issue, mindfulness can give you time to process it and return to the stressful situation with a clearer head.

Stress is one of the areas where MBSR has been shown to be incredibly effective, likely in part because MBSR was designed specifically for stress reduction.

Anxiety and depression

MBSR invites participants to connect with their inner worlds and gives you tools for refocusing. This can be extremely helpful with circular worries or negative self-talk. When you find yourself down a tangent, you learn to draw yourself, kindly and non-judgmentally, back to the present moment. Becoming more accepting of our own inner thoughts and feelings can be very helpful when living with anxiety or depression. There have been many studies on MBSR’s efficacy.

If you intend to take an MBSR class to cope with anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, or another similar diagnosis, please talk to your health care provider before registering. Once you do, please also be open and honest with your instructor. If they do not know why you are taking the class, they may not be able to help.

How can I use MBSR?

If you are interested in taking an MBSR class as part of a medical plan, again, please talk to both your doctor and your instructor so they are aware. To be effective, you must experience the entirety of the MBSR class, so look for a class that has eight live sessions and an all-day retreat with a qualified instructor. Online classes are a completely valid way to experience MBSR, but if you choose this option, make sure you are taking the class with a qualified instructor and with a community. Group connection is a large part of the process. Here are tips on what to look for when registering for an MBSR class.

Additionally, MBSR has been studied and found effective in its totality, which means that doing the home practices is every bit as important as attending class regularly. It is a large commitment, but it can provide tools that help over time.

To take an MBSR class with Mindful Leader, click here.