WHAT IS IT?
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) teaches you to be aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. You set aside being reactive or judgmental. It can help you have more choice and take wise action in your life. You can develop a non-judgmental acceptance and “open-hearted” experience. The goals are to increase well-being and reduce suffering and distress. It is known for helping people with stress, anxiety, depression, and pain.
MBSR is most often taught in a 6 to 8-week course. It combines mindfulness meditation, body awareness, yoga and exploration of patterns of behavior, thinking, feeling and action.
Meditation and mindfulness are used to reduce stress. They include focused breathing or belly breathing, body scanning, guided imagery, prayer, and other techniques.
OUR BOTTOM LINE: DOES IT HELP?
MAYBE. Mindfulness-based stress reduction may improve overall quality of life for women with menopause symptoms. It may help you sleep better and put you in a better mood.
NO. MSBR will likely not decrease the number or severity of hot flashes and night sweats.
SLEEP PROBLEMS & INSOMNIA
Mindfulness training has been shown to improve sleep for adults. However, research is needed on women in menopause.
MOOD, ANXIETY & DEPRESSION
While not studied specifically in menopausal women, there is some evidence that mindfulness-based stress reduction can help decrease depression and anxiety.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction and meditation have helped people lose about 7 pounds in the short-term on average. It is usually combined with another approach, like changes in diet. Indeed, there are programs that combine the two by promoting mindful eating, which can be effective in reducing impulsive eating. Long-term effects of MBSR on weight loss maintenance are not known. The studies were not specifically about menopause-related weight gain.
HOT FLASHES AND NIGHT SWEATS
MBSR does not seem to decrease hot flashes, night sweats, or the severity of these symptoms.
ACHES AND PAINS
Evidence thus far indicates that MBSR does not decrease pain.
POTENTIAL RISKS & SIDE EFFECTS
There are no know risks of MBSR.
QUALITY OF LIFE EXPECTATIONS
There is some evidence that MBSR may help with overall menopause related quality of life.
IF I WANT TO TRY THIS TREATMENT WHAT ARE MY NEXT STEPS?
Classes and programs in MBSR are widely offered. Look for them at hospitals, retreat centers, yoga facilities and meditation centers. Books and on-line programs can also suggest how to use mindfulness.
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Authors: Dr. Katherine Newton, & Dr. Leslie Snyder. Last reviewed February 15, 2021