Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

This post was written by H&W instructor Carolyn McManus, PT, MS, MA. Carolyn will be instructing the course that she wrote on "Mindfulness-Based Biopsychosocial Approach to the Treatment of Chronic Pain" in Seattle this November.


I have taught Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction at Swedish Medical Center (SMC) since 1998. Over the years I have had many healthcare providers take the course and have long thought it would be wonderful to tailor a program specifically for healthcare professionals. I had the opportunity to do so this summer when, along with my colleague Diane Hetrick, PT, we designed and taught Mindfulness and Compassion Cultivation Training for physicians at SMC. The course was a great success. Physicians reported one of the most popular components of the program were our “on the spot” mindful practices. These are simple, easy-to-do strategies that any provider can employ to center, calm the body and steady the mind during a busy workday. They not only help reduce stress, but can influence brain activation to promote better decision making.

Research shows, under stress conditions, the amygdala activates stress pathways in hypothalamus and brainstem, evoking high levels of noradrenaline and dopamine release, impairing prefrontal cortex function. (1) Research also shows mindful practices reduce stress-related brain activity and improve executive functioning. (2, 3) I am delighted to share these powerful and practical “on the spot” mindful practices in my November course. My intention is for participants to have mindfulness skills to use for their own well-being the minute they walk in their clinic door on Monday.

Learn more about Carolyn's course Mindfulness-Based Biopsychosocial Approach to Chronic Pain and join her in Seattle this fall!

1. Arnsten AF. Stress signaling pathways that impair prefrontal cortex structure and function. Nat Rev Neurosci 2009:10(6):410-422.

2. Holzel BK, Carmody J, Evans KC, et al. Stress reduction correlates with structural changes in the amygdala. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2010;5(1):11–17.

3. van den Hurk PA, Giommi F, Gielen SC, et al. Greater efficiency in attentional processing related to mindfulness meditation. Q J Exp Psychol (Hove) 2010;63(6);1168–1180.

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