Improve Weight-Related Eating Behaviors with a Mindfulness App

Improve Weight-Related Eating Behaviors with a Mindfulness App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“a slower, more thoughtful way of eating could help with weight problems and maybe steer some people away from processed food and unhealthy choices.” – Harvard Health

 

Eating is produced by two categories of signals. Homeostatic signals emerge from the body’s need for nutrients, is associated with feelings of hunger, and usually work to balance intake with expenditure. Non-homeostatic eating, on the other hand, is not tied to nutrient needs or hunger but rather to the environment and or to the pleasurable and rewarding qualities of food. These cues can be powerful signals to eat even when there is no physical need for food.

 

Mindful eating involves paying attention to eating while it is occurring, including attention to the sight, smell, flavors, and textures of food, to the process of chewing and may help reduce intake by affecting the individual’s response to non-homeostatic cues for eating. Indeed, high levels of mindfulness are associated with lower levels of obesity. Hence, mindful eating may counter non-homeostatic eating.

 

Mindfulness training programs over the internet and with smartphone apps have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. These online and smartphone app trainings have been shown to be effective. It is not known if a mindful eating smartphone app may be effective in reducing body weight and weight-related eating behaviors.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Mindfulness App Trial for Weight, Weight-Related Behaviors, and Stress in University Students: Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6479283/), Lyzwinski and colleagues recruited college students and randomly assigned them to receive apps for their smartphones for either mindfulness or a self-monitoring diet and exercise diary for an 11 week period. The mindfulness app consisted of body scan, diaphragmatic breathing, observing the breath, loving kindness meditation, concentration meditation, choiceless awareness mindfulness meditation, and Hatha yoga all adapted from the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The students were measured before and after the 11-week training for body size, physical activity, eating behavior, mindful eating, mindfulness, perceived stress, and participant retention and adherence.

 

They found in comparison to baseline and to the diet and exercise diary group, the mindfulness group had significant increases in mindfulness and mindful eating, and significant decreases in emotional eating, uncontrolled eating, and perceived stress levels. The diet and exercise diary group had significantly higher levels of exercise. There were no significant changes in body size for either group. 80% of the participants completed the program and of the mindfulness app group only 14% reported completing all modules, while 61% reported sporadic use, and 23% reported using it very seldom.

 

The results are encouraging and suggest that the mindfulness smartphone app is a feasible and acceptable method of increasing mindfulness and improving weight-related eating behaviors. Although retention is good, adherence was not. The students recruited, though, were not particularly motivated to lose weight or practice mindfulness. Perhaps, a more motivated group of participants would have resulted in better adherence. There also may be a need to modify the app to make participation more interesting and fun.

 

The fact there no changes in weight were observed was no surprising as the 11-week period is short to detect significant changes in weight. A long-term study is needed here. In addition, maintaining a diet and exercise diary has been shown to reduce food intake and increase exercise. A comparison of the mindfulness app to a group participating in nutrition education ap might be better able to demonstrate changes in body size. Regardless, the results are encouraging and suggest that an app, training students in mindfulness, may be a convenient and inexpensive means to develop better eating habits.

 

So, improve weight-related eating behaviors with a mindfulness App.

 

Increased mindful eating has been shown to help participants gain awareness of their bodies, be more in tune to hunger and satiety, recognize external cues to eat, gain self compassion, decrease food cravings, decrease problematic eating, and decrease reward-driven eating.” – Carolyn Dunn

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Lyzwinski, L. N., Caffery, L., Bambling, M., & Edirippulige, S. (2019). The Mindfulness App Trial for Weight, Weight-Related Behaviors, and Stress in University Students: Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 7(4), e12210. doi:10.2196/12210

 

Abstract

Background

University students are at risk of weight gain during their studies. Key factors related to weight gain in this population include unhealthy weight-related behaviors because of stress. Mindfulness holds promise for weight management. However, there has not been any previous trial that has explored the effectiveness of a student-tailored mindfulness app for stress, weight-related behaviors, and weight. There is limited evidence that current mindfulness apps use evidence-based mindfulness techniques. A novel app was developed that combined evidence-based, mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindful eating (ME) techniques that were tailored to university students, with student-relevant themes for targeting weight behaviors, weight, and stress.

Objectives

The aim of this study was to test the effectiveness, acceptability, and feasibility of a student-tailored mindfulness app for weight, weight-related behaviors, and stress. Testing this app in a rigorous randomized controlled trial (RCT) for these outcomes is a novelty and contribution to this emerging field.

Methods

A 2-arm RCT of an 11-week duration was undertaken at the University of Queensland. Students were either randomized to the mindfulness app (n=45) or to a behavioral self-monitoring electronic diary (e-diary; n=45) for diet and exercise. Analysis of covariance was used to compare differences in weight, stress, mindfulness, ME, physical activity, and eating behaviors between both groups.

Results

Neither the mindfulness app group nor the e-diary group lost weight and there were no differences between the groups at follow-up. The mindfulness app group had significantly lower stress levels (P=.02) (adherers only), lower emotional eating (P=.02), and uncontrolled eating (P=.02) as well as higher mindfulness (P≤.001) and ME levels overall (P≤.001). The e-diary group had higher metabolic equivalents of moderate activity levels (P≤.01). However, the effect sizes were small. Regular adherence to mindfulness exercises in the app was low in the group. The majority of students (94%) liked the app and found it to be acceptable. Compared with other exercises, the most helpful reported meditation was the short breathing exercise observing the breath (39.4% [13/33] preferred it).

This was the first RCT that tested a mindfulness app for weight and weight-related behaviors in students. The modest level of user adherence likely contributes to the lack of effect on weight loss. However, there was a small, albeit promising, effect on weight-related eating behavior and stress.

Conclusions

A mindfulness app demonstrated effectiveness for stress, eating behaviors, mindfulness, and ME, but the effect sizes were small. Future studies should be conducted over longer periods of time and with greater participant compliance.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6479283/

 

Reduce Cell Phone Dependence in Adolescents with Mindfulness

Reduce Cell Phone Dependence in Adolescents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“With its emphasis on harnessing attention with intention (i.e. redirecting it on purpose), mindfulness—with all its scientifically-established health and well-being benefits—has the potential to keep us from drifting hopelessly away from one another. Perhaps it can keep us connected, even though we might only be feet away from one another as we tap out texts, emails ,or check up on our “social” life on social media.” – Mitch Abblett

 

Over the last few decades cell phones have gone from a rare curiosity to the dominant mode of electronic communications. They have also expanded well beyond a telephone and have become powerful hand-held computers known as smartphones. In fact, they have become a dominant force in daily life, occupying large amounts of time and attention. We have become seriously attached. They have become so dominant that, for many, the thought of being without it produces anxiety. Many people have become addicted. It is estimated that about 12% of the population is truly “addicted,” developing greater levels of “tolerance” and experiencing “withdrawal” and distress when deprived of them.

 

Recent surveys and studies paint a vivid picture of our cell phone addiction: we feel a surge of panic when we are separated from our beloved cell phones. This phenomenon is so new that there is little understanding of its nature and causes. In today’s Research News article “.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00598/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_943967_69_Psycho_20190326_arts_A), Li and colleagues examine the relationships of parental attachment, alexithymia, and mindfulness with cell phone dependence in adolescents. They recruited adolescents (average age 14.9 years) and had them complete scales measuring parental attachment, alexithymia, mindfulness, and mobile phone dependence.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness and parental attachment the lower the levels of mobile phone dependence and that the higher the levels of alexithymia the lower the levels of parental attachment and the higher the levels of mobile phone dependence. In a mediational analysis they found that the relationship between parental attachment and mobile phone dependence was moderated by mindfulness such that the higher the levels of mindfulness the greater the impact of parental attachment on lowering the levels of mobile phone dependence. Similarly, they found that the relationship between alexithymia and mobile phone dependence was moderated by mindfulness such that the higher the levels of mindfulness the less the impact of alexithymia on heightening the levels of mobile phone dependence.

 

These findings suggest that youth with secure attachment to their parents become less dependent on their mobile phones and that this association is strengthened by mindfulness. In other words, mindful youths are more highly impacted by their attachment to their parents. Alexithymia “is characterized by reduced capacity to identify, analyze and express emotions, restricted imagination, and an externally oriented thinking.” Hence, the findings also suggest that youth with poor emotion regulation become more attached to the mobile phones and that mindful youths are less impacted by their lack of emotion regulation. So, mindfulness is associated with lower dependence on mobile phones by moderating the associations of parental attachment and alexithymia on mobile phone dependence.

 

Since mobile phone dependence is becoming more and more of a problem it is important to find antidotes. Mindfulness may be just such an antidote. The present results, though, are correlational and causation cannot be determined. So, it remains to be seen if mindfulness training can, in fact, alter the relationships of parental attachment and alexithymia with mobile phone dependence. This will be important to determine in the future as mindfulness training may be used to lower the dependence of youths on mobile phones and thereby improve their connections with other people and their environment, improving their well-being.

 

So, reduce cell phone dependence in adolescents with mindfulness.

 

“To say we are addicted to our phones is not merely to point out that we use them a lot. It signals a darker notion: that we use them to keep our own selves at bay. Because of our phones, we may find ourselves incapable of sitting alone in a room with our own thoughts floating freely in our own heads, daring to wander into the past and the future, allowing ourselves to feel pain, desire, regret and excitement.” – Stephany Tlalka

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Li X and Hao C (2019) The Relationship Between Parental Attachment and Mobile Phone Dependence Among Chinese Rural Adolescents: The Role of Alexithymia and Mindfulness. Front. Psychol. 10:598. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00598

 

Mobile phone has experienced a significant increase in popularity among adolescents in recent years. Findings indicate dependence on mobile phone is related to poor parent-child relationship. However, previous research on mobile phone dependence (MPD) is scant and mainly focus on adult samples. In this view, the present study investigated the association between parental attachment and MPD as well as its influence mechanism, in sample of adolescents in rural China. Data were collected from three middle schools in rural areas of Jiangxi and Hubei Province (N = 693, 46.46% female, Mage = 14.88, SD = 1.77). Participants completed the Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment (IPPA), the twenty-item Toronto alexithymia scale (TAS-20), the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) and the Mobile Phone Addiction Index Scale (MPAI). Among the results, parental attachment negatively predicted MPD and alexithymia were exerting partial mediation effect between parental attachment and MPD. Further, mindfulness acted as moderator of the relationship between alexithymia and MPD: The negative impact of alexithymia on MPD was weakened under the condition of high level of mindfulness. Knowledge of this mechanism could be useful for understanding adolescents’ MPD in terms of the interaction of multiple factors.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00598/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_943967_69_Psycho_20190326_arts_A

 

Improve Resilience in First-Responders with a Smartphone Mindfulness App

Improve Resilience in First-Responders with a Smartphone Mindfulness App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The mindfulness practices work at both a preventative and remedial level by assisting them to maintain higher levels of resilience to deal with their emergency responder roles and helping to reduce and cease distressing reactions after difficult personal and traumatic incidents.” – Mark Molony

 

First responders such as firefighters and police experience a great deal of stress and frequent traumatic events and as a part of their jobs. The first-responders need to be resilient in the face of these difficult circumstances to cope with the stress. It is possible that mindfulness training might help. Mindfulness has been shown to increase resilience and reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. So, it is reasonable to infer that mindfulness training may help to develop resilience in first-responders and be of benefit to their mental health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Resilience@Work Mindfulness Program: Results From a Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial With First Responders.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6399574/), Joyce and colleagues examine the ability of mindfulness training delivered with a smartphone app to increase the levels of resilience in first-responders. They recruited Primary Rescue and Hazmat firefighters and randomly assigned their stations to either receive 6, 20-25 minute, sessions  of mindfulness training or to an Healthy Living control condition. The mindfulness training was based upon Acceptance and Compassion Therapy (ACT) and emphasized mindfulness, self-acceptance, and compassion. Both programs were delivered through a smartphone app. The first-responders were measured before and after training and 6 months later for mindfulness, resilience, cognitive fusion, experiential avoidance and psychological inflexibility, self-compassion, optimism, coping orientation, and life purpose.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control condition, participation in the mindfulness training resulted in a significant increase in adaptive resilience and mindfulness which continued to increase over the 6-month follow-up period. Significant differences in optimism, and the use of instrumental and emotional support were present at the end of training but were not sustained at follow-up. Interestingly, there were no significant differences in “bounce-back” resilience.

 

Adaptive resilience involves the ability to adapt to stressful life circumstances and events. It involves the “individual’s ability to tolerate experiences such as change, personal problems, illness, pressure, failure, and painful feelings.” On the other hand, “bounce-back” resilience involves the ability to recover from stressful events. Since mindfulness focuses the individual on the present moment, it would be expected that it would influence the experience and coping with stressful events as they’re occurring. This is the case with adaptive resilience. On the other hand, mindfulness moves attention away from past events and would thus not be expected to influence coping with past stressful events as is the case with “bounce-back” resilience. Hence, it makes sense that mindfulness training would affect adaptive resilience and not “bounce-back” resilience.

 

It is important for the well-being of first responders that they be able to cope with the, at times, intense stress and trauma involved in their jobs. Hence, mindfulness training may be very beneficial as the present results suggest. This may help to prevent illness, burnout, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, the fact that mindfulness was taught with a smartphone app is important as it makes the training convenient and adaptable to the individual’s schedule. It is also highly scalable allowing for inexpensive widespread availability of the training.

 

So, Improve Resilience in First-Responders with a Smartphone Mindfulness App.

 

“Because PTSD is an anxiety disorder, episodes of distress occur when a person begins to worry about the future based on previous painful, intense or stressful memories. Meditation can help bring that person’s attention back to the current moment, which reduces or eliminates anxiety.” – Erin Fletcher

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Joyce, S., Shand, F., Lal, T. J., Mott, B., Bryant, R. A., & Harvey, S. B. (2019). Resilience@Work Mindfulness Program: Results From a Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial With First Responders. Journal of medical Internet research, 21(2), e12894. doi:10.2196/12894

 

Abstract

Background

A growing body of research suggests that resilience training can play a pivotal role in creating mentally healthy workplaces, particularly with regard to protecting the long-term well-being of workers. Emerging research describes positive outcomes from various types of resilience training programs (RTPs) among different occupational groups. One specific group of workers that may benefit from this form of proactive resilience training is first responders. Given the nature of their work, first responders are frequently exposed to stressful circumstances and potentially traumatic events, which may impact their overall resilience and well-being over time.

Objective

This study aimed to examine whether a mindfulness-based RTP (the Resilience@Work [RAW] Mindfulness Program) delivered via the internet can effectively enhance resilience among a group of high-risk workers.

Methods

We conducted a cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) comprising 24 Primary Fire and Rescue and Hazmat stations within New South Wales. Overall, 12 stations were assigned to the 6-session RAW Mindfulness Program and 12 stations were assigned to the control condition. A total of 143 active full-time firefighters enrolled in the study. Questionnaires were administered at baseline, immediately post training, and at 6-month follow-up. Measurements examined change in both adaptive and bounce-back resilience as well as several secondary outcomes examining resilience resources and acceptance and mindfulness skills.

Results

Mixed-model repeated measures analysis found that the overall test of group-by-time interaction was significant (P=.008), with the intervention group increasing in adaptive resilience over time. However, no significant differences were found between the intervention group and the control group in terms of change in bounce-back resilience (P=.09). At 6-month follow-up, the group receiving the RAW intervention had an average increase in their resilience score of 1.3, equating to a moderate-to-large effect size compared with the control group of 0.73 (95% CI 0.38-1.06). Per-protocol analysis found that compared with the control group, the greatest improvements in adaptive resilience were observed among those who completed most of the RAW program, that is, 5 to 6 sessions (P=.002).

Conclusions

The results of this RCT suggest that mindfulness-based resilience training delivered in an internet format can create improvements in adaptive resilience and related resources among high-risk workers, such as first responders. Despite a number of limitations, the results of this study suggest that the RAW Mindfulness Program is an effective, scalable, and practical means of delivering online resilience training in high-risk workplace settings. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time a mindfulness-based RTP delivered entirely via the internet has been tested in the workplace.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6399574/

 

Relieve Anxiety Disorders with Online Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Relieve Anxiety Disorders with Online Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The essential components of ACT include letting go of the struggle to control unwanted thoughts and feelings, being mindfully aware of the present moment, and committing to a course of action that is consistent with what you value most in life. . . Acceptance of your anxious thoughts and feelings allows you to focus more clearly on the present and to take the steps that move you closer to the life you truly want to live.” – AnxietyHappens

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, or 18% of the population. A characterizing feature of anxiety disorders is that the suffer overly identifies with and personalizes their thoughts. The sufferer has recurring thoughts, such as impending disaster, that they may realize are unreasonable, but are unable to shake. Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. There are a number of psychological therapies for anxiety. But, about 45% of the patients treated do not respond to the therapy. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders.

 

A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It is a mindfulness-based psychotherapy technique that is employs many of the techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and has also been shown to relieve anxietyACT focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes.

 

The original form of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), however, required a certified trained therapist. This resulted in costs that many clients couldn’t afford. In addition, the participants had to be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that were not always compatible with busy schedules and at locations that were not always convenient. As an alternative, mindfulness-based treatments delivered over the internet have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of ACT for anxiety disorder when delivered over the internet.

 

 

In today’s Research News article “Internet-Delivered Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Treatment: Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6371070/ ), Kelson and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) delivered online for the treatment of Anxiety Disorders. They discovered 20 published studies.

 

They found that on average 81% of participants completed the online ACT program. They also found that the ACT program produced small to moderate significant reduction in anxiety. These include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and illness anxiety disorder. Hence, the published research suggests that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) delivered online is effective for the treatment of Anxiety Disorders. This adds to the list of mindfulness-based therapies that can be successfully delivered online. This is important as online presentation is inexpensive, convenient, and available to a very large population of anxiety disorder sufferers.

 

So, relieve anxiety disorders with online acceptance and commitment therapy

 

Research has shown that ACT can produce symptom improvement in people with GAD, and it may also be a particularly good fit for older adults.” – Deborah Glasofer

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Kelson, J., Rollin, A., Ridout, B., & Campbell, A. (2019). Internet-Delivered Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Treatment: Systematic Review. Journal of medical Internet research, 21(1), e12530. doi:10.2196/12530

 

Abstract

Background

Anxiety conditions are debilitating and prevalent throughout the world. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an effective, acceptance-based behavioral therapy for anxiety. However, there are treatment barriers (eg, financial, geographical, and attitudinal), which prevent people from accessing it. To overcome these barriers, internet-delivered ACT (iACT) interventions have been developed in recent years. These interventions use websites to deliver ACT information and skill training exercises on the Web, either as pure self-help or with therapist guidance.

Objective

This systematic review aimed to examine the therapeutic impact of iACT on all anxiety conditions.

Methods

The EMBASE, MEDLINE, ProQuest Central, PsycINFO, Scopus, and Web of Science databases were searched up to September 2018. The titles and abstracts of remaining records after deduplication were screened by 2 authors with a total of 36 full-text articles being retained for closer inspection next to eligibility criteria. Empirical studies of all designs, population types, and comparator groups were included if they appraised the impact of iACT treatment on any standardized measure of anxiety. Included studies were appraised on methodological quality and had their data extracted into a standardized coding sheet. Findings were then tabulated, and a narrative synthesis was performed because of the heterogeneity found between studies.

Results

A total of 20 studies met inclusion criteria. There were 11 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 9 uncontrolled pilot studies. Participants across all studies were adults. The anxiety conditions treated were as follows: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), illness anxiety disorder (IAD), and general anxiety symptoms, with or without comorbid physical and mental health problems. A total of 18 studies reported significant anxiety reduction after iACT treatment. This was observed in studies that delivered iACT with (n=13) or without (n=5) therapist guidance. The average attrition rate across all included studies during the active iACT treatment phase was 19.19%. In the 13 studies that assessed treatment satisfaction, participants on average rated their iACT experience with above average to high treatment satisfaction.

Conclusions

These findings indicate that iACT can be an efficacious and acceptable treatment for adults with GAD and general anxiety symptoms. More RCT studies are needed to corroborate these early iACT findings using empirical treatments in active control groups (eg, internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy). This would potentially validate the promising results found for SAD and IAD as well as address the full spectrum of anxiety disorders.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6371070/

 

Improve Psychological Well-Being with a Smartphone Mindfulness App

Improve Psychological Well-Being with a Smartphone Mindfulness App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mobile phones are often scorned as devices of distraction, but paradoxically, they may serve as a good platform to practice being in the moment and being mindful given their wide use,” – Jayde Flett

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress and resilience in the face of stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, Apps for smartphones have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of these Apps in inducing mindfulness and improving psychological health.

 

In today’s Research News article “). Effects of a Mindfulness Meditation App on Subjective Well-Being: Active Randomized Controlled Trial and Experience Sampling Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329416/ ), Walsh and colleagues recruited undergraduate students and randomly assigned them to practice with one of two smartphone apps, “Wildflowers” Mindfulness Training or “2048” Cognitive Training, for 10 minutes per day for three weeks. “2048” is described as “fun and relaxing puzzle game”. “Wildflowers” involves a variety of meditation trainings. “Ratings of current mood, stress level, and heart rate were recorded within each app before and after each training session.” Also, before and after the 3 weeks of training with the Apps the participants completed online measures of perceived stress, personality, well-being, psychological inflexibility, experiential avoidance, mindfulness, interoceptive awareness, spirituality, meaning in life, attentional control, interoceptive attention, and positive and negative mood.

 

They found that in comparison to the before session mood and the cognitive training group, after the session the participants who engaged in mindfulness training had significantly improved mood and reduced perceived stress. Hence, on the short term, engagement with the mindfulness app improved the emotional state of the participants.

 

They also found that both groups significantly improved over the 3 weeks of training on awareness and self-acceptance. The mindfulness training group, however, had significantly greater improvement in self-acceptance. In addition, the mindfulness training group had a significant improvement in attentional control, specifically increased ability to deal with conflicts for attention. This may be particularly helpful for the academic ability of college students. Hence on the longer term, engaging with the mindfulness app results in improved attentional ability and self-acceptance.

 

This research is well structured as the control, comparison, condition involved an equivalent amount of practice, time commitment, and expectation of benefit. So, the findings can be viewed as solid. The study, however, lacks a follow-up to determine if the effects are lasting or fleeting. The results though demonstrate that engaging in mindfulness practices with a smartphone produces short-term benefits for the individual’s emotional and psychological state and attentional ability. These are substantial benefits for a 10 minute per day investment of time. The low cost, scalability, flexibility, and convenience of training using a smartphone make it an important advance in mindfulness training.

 

So, improve psychological well-being with a smartphone mindfulness app.

 

Mindfulness does not mean avoiding digital media, nor does it mean making one’s own mindfulness dependent on it – so let’s be more mindful when it comes to mindfulness!” – Annika Heinemeyer

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Walsh, K. M., Saab, B. J., & Farb, N. A. (2019). Effects of a Mindfulness Meditation App on Subjective Well-Being: Active Randomized Controlled Trial and Experience Sampling Study. JMIR mental health, 6(1), e10844. doi:10.2196/10844

 

Abstract

Background

Mindfulness training (MT) includes a variety of contemplative practices aimed at promoting intentional awareness of experience, coupled with attitudes of nonjudgment and curiosity. Following the success of 8-week, manualized group interventions, MT has been implemented in a variety of modalities, including smartphone apps that seek to replicate the success of group interventions. However, although smartphone apps are scalable and accessible to a wider swath of population, their benefits remain largely untested.

Objective

This study aimed to investigate a newly developed MT app called Wildflowers, which was codeveloped with the laboratory for use in mindfulness research. It was hypothesized that 3 weeks of MT through this app would improve subjective well-being, attentional control, and interoceptive integration, albeit with weaker effects than those published in the 8 week, manualized group intervention literature.

Methods

Undergraduate students completed 3 weeks of MT with Wildflowers (n=45) or 3 weeks of cognitive training with a game called 2048 (n=41). State training effects were assessed through pre- and postsession ratings of current mood, stress level, and heart rate. Trait training effects were assessed through pre- and postintervention questionnaires canvassing subjective well-being and behavioral task measures of attentional control and interoceptive integration. State and trait training data were analyzed in a multilevel model using emergent latent factors (acceptance, awareness, and openness) to summarize the trait questionnaire battery.

Results

Analyses revealed both state and trait effects specific to MT; participants engaging in MT demonstrated improved mood (r=.14) and a reduction of stress (r=−.13) immediately after each training session compared with before the training session and decreased postsession stress over 3 weeks (r=−.08). In addition, MT relative to cognitive training resulted in greater improvements in attentional control (r=−.24). Interestingly, both groups demonstrated increased subjective ratings of awareness (r=.28) and acceptance (r=.23) from pre- to postintervention, with greater changes in acceptance for the MT group trending (r=.21).

Conclusions

MT, using a smartphone app, may provide immediate effects on mood and stress while also providing long-term benefits for attentional control. Although further investigation is warranted, there is evidence that with continued usage, MT via a smartphone app may provide long-term benefits in changing how one relates to their inner and outer experiences.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329416/

 

Improve Psychological Well-Being with a Smartphone Mindfulness App

 

Improve Psychological Well-Being with a Smartphone Mindfulness App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness mediation apps can be useful for some people, but for others, when unwell, using these apps or even engaging in mediation its self can be quite difficult,” – Kym Jenkins

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress and resilience in the face of stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, Apps for smartphones have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of these Apps in inducing mindfulness and improving psychological health.

 

In today’s Research News article “The efficacy of a brief app-based mindfulness intervention on psychosocial outcomes in healthy adults: A pilot randomised controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6312207/ ), Champion and colleagues recruited over the internet healthy adults who were not mindfulness practitioners and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive mindfulness training via a smartphone app (Headspace). They practiced once a day for 10 minutes for 30 days. “The program is intended to introduce the key principles behind mindfulness, and how one can apply mindfulness to their daily life, using technique such as breath awareness, body scanning, and noting. . . The audio content is supplemented with educational videos and animations.” The participants completed questionnaires over the internet measuring general health, satisfaction with life, perceived stress, resilience, and engagement and experience with the app.

 

They found in comparison to baseline and to the wait-list controls that the participants who used the app had significant improvements in satisfaction with life, perceived stress, and resilience. The increases in psychological health were greatest between baseline and day 10 of practice but continued to increase over the next 20 days. This suggests that the benefits are available relatively rapidly but continued practice produces greater benefits. It remains to be determined whether these effects are enduring or are only present in the immediate aftermath of training.

 

These effects of mindfulness training are well established. This study adds to the accumulating evidence of the effectiveness of mindfulness training over the internet or with smartphone apps. The present study demonstrates that a widely available commercial smartphone app is also effective. This is important as it suggests that training in mindfulness can be made widely and inexpensively available without the presence of a trained therapist and at the convenience of the participant. This may allow for the benefits of mindfulness practice to spread far and wide to tremendous numbers of people. In this regard the Headspace app has already been downloaded 30 million times.

 

So, improve psychological well-being with a smartphone mindfulness app.

 

“A good number of new meditators begin sitting with the hope that the holistic benefits of meditation will make themselves felt in a matter of days. They expect meditation to act as a quick fix – like swallowing a pain relief tablet. It isn’t a reasonable expectation. Most genuine meditation teachers say that while a fortunate few newbies experience benefits very quickly, for the rest of us, meditation has to be practiced regularly over time before its beneficial effects can be appreciated.” – Mindworks

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Champion, L., Economides, M., & Chandler, C. (2018). The efficacy of a brief app-based mindfulness intervention on psychosocial outcomes in healthy adults: A pilot randomised controlled trial. PloS one, 13(12), e0209482. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0209482

 

Abstract

Background

Previous evidence suggests that mindfulness training may improve aspects of psychosocial well-being. Whilst mindfulness is traditionally taught in person, consumers are increasingly turning to mindfulness-based smartphone apps as an alternative delivery medium for training. Despite this growing trend, few studies have explored whether mindfulness delivered via a smartphone app can enhance psychosocial well-being within the general public.

Methods

The present pilot randomised controlled trial compared the impact of engaging with the self-guided mindfulness meditation (MM) app ‘Headspace’ (n = 38) for a period of 10 or 30 days, to a wait-list (WL) control (n = 36), using a cohort of adults from the general population. The Satisfaction with Life Scale, Perceived Stress Scale, and Wagnild Resilience Scale were administered online at baseline and after 10 and 30 days of the intervention.

Results

Twelve participants (MM n = 9, WL n = 3) were lost to follow-up for unknown reasons. Relative to the WL control, the MM app positively impacted self-reported satisfaction with life, stress, and resilience at day 10, with further improvements emerging at day 30 (Cohen’s d = 0.57, 1.42, 0.63 respectively). The rate of improvement was largest at the 10-day assessment point, dropping moderately by day 30. Participants that rated the MM app as easy to engage with experienced the largest self-reported benefits. Moreover, the MM app was able to protect against an unexpected increase in perceived stress that emerged in the control group.

Conclusions

This pilot randomised controlled trial shows that self-reported improvements in psychosocial outcomes can be achieved at low cost through short-term engagement with a mindfulness-based smartphone app, and should be followed up with more substantive studies.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6312207/

 

Improve Mental Health in Older Adults with Online Meditation Practice

Improve Mental Health in Older Adults with Online Meditation Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The good news is that there are steps we can take right now to make the goal of “aging gracefully” more attainable. Mindfulness training is one of those steps; research has clearly shown that regular meditation comes with a wide range of physical, mental and emotional health benefits should particularly interest seniors.” – Mindworks

 

Human life is one of constant change. We revel in our increases in physical and mental capacities during development but regret their decline during aging. As we age, there are systematic progressive declines in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities and results in impairments in memory, attention, and problem-solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. Aging also results in changes in mental health. Depression is very common in the elderly. The elderly cope with increasing loss of friends and family, deteriorating health, as well as concerns regarding finances on fixed incomes. All of these are legitimate sources of worry. In addition, many elderly experience withdrawal and isolation from social interactions. But, no matter how reasonable, the increased loneliness, worry and anxiety add extra stress that can impact on the elderly’s already deteriorating physical and psychological health.

 

Mindfulness appears to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues that occur with aging. It appears to strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation. It has also been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging. and improve cognitive processes. It has also been shown to reduce anxietyworry, and depression and improve overall mental health. Since the global population of the elderly is increasing at unprecedented rates, it is imperative to investigate safe and effective methods to improve mental health in the elderly. In addition, the elderly frequently have mobility issues and going to a treatment facility may be challenging. A promising alternative is online mindfulness programs. It is not known, however, whether these will be acceptable and effective in elderly populations.

 

In today’s Research News article “Internet Mindfulness Meditation Intervention (IMMI) Improves Depression Symptoms in Older Adults.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6313401/pdf/medicines-05-00119.pdf ), Wahbeh and colleagues recruited older adults aged 55 to 80 years who were not currently meditators and demonstrated symptoms of depression. They were randomly assigned either to a wait list control group or to receive 6 weeks of online 1-hour once a week meditation training with 20 minutes daily guided meditations to be practiced at their convenience. Meditation included both body scan and sitting meditations. The participants were measured before and after training and 7 weeks later for mindfulness depression, resilience, spiritual experiences, insomnia, pain, perceived stress, and satisfaction with the intervention.

 

They found that in comparison to the baseline and the wait list control participants after meditation practice there were significant reductions in depression, insomnia, perceived stress, and pain interference, and significant increases in spirituality. These effects were maintained at follow-up 7 weeks after the end of treatment.

 

These are important findings. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques require a certified trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. The online mindfulness training program has tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. These advantages are particularly important for elderly individuals. In addition, there is evidence that mindfulness programs delivered online can be quite effective.

 

The current findings demonstrate that online meditation training can be successfully implemented with older adults with symptoms of depression and that this program can produce significant improvements in the mental health of the participants. This suggests that such programs can be widely and inexpensively distributed over the internet to improve the well-being of the elderly.

 

So, improve mental health in older adults with online meditation practice.

 

Meditation – not just medication – is an effective treatment for elderly patients with late-life depression.” – Jennifer Bieman

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Helané Wahbeh. Internet Mindfulness Meditation Intervention (IMMI) Improves Depression Symptoms in Older Adults. Medicines (Basel) 2018 Dec; 5(4): 119. Published online 2018 Nov 2. doi: 10.3390/medicines5040119

 

Abstract: Background: Older adults have fewer physiological reserves and are more likely to be affected by stress. Mindfulness meditation has the potential to be an effective treatment for depression, but little research has been conducted on older adults. The primary objective of this study was to evaluate depression symptom changes in older adults (55–80 years old) taking an Internet Mindfulness Meditation Intervention (IMMI) compared to a waitlist control. The secondary aims were to collect data on pain, perceived stress, resilience, mindfulness, sleep quality, and spirituality. Methods: Fifty older adults were randomized to either the Internet Mindfulness Meditation Intervention, a six-week online intervention with daily home practice, or a waitlist control. Measures were collected at baseline, after the six-week intervention period, and again six weeks later after the waitlist participants completed IMMI. Adherence to home practice was objectively measured with iMINDr. Changes in outcomes for the IMMI and waitlist participants were compared. All participants who completed IMMI were then combined for a within-participant analysis. Results: Adherence to the intervention was low, likely due to a traumatic event in the local area of the participants. Compared to the waitlist participants, those in IMMI had improved depression symptoms (p < 0.00005), perceived stress (p = 0.0007), insomnia symptoms (p = 0.0009), and pain severity (p = 0.05). In the within-participant analysis of all data before and after IMMI (i.e., those initially randomized to IMMI and waitlist participants who took it), we found improvements in depression symptoms (p = 0.0001), perceived stress (p = 0.0001), insomnia symptoms (p < 0.00005), pain interference (p = 0.003), and spirituality (p = 0.018). A seven-week follow-up after the original six-week IMMI program showed sustained improvements in the IMMI participants. Conclusions: IMMI improved depression and related symptoms compared to controls despite minimal support from study staff. IMMI offers a low-dose, low-cost, easily accessible mindfulness meditation intervention for older adults with depression symptoms.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6313401/pdf/medicines-05-00119.pdf

 

Improve Mental Health and Well-Being with Smartphone APP Mindfulness Training

Improve Mental Health and Well-Being with Smartphone APP Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The seemingly simple act of mindfulness may help reduce the impact of stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. Mindfulness is the act of paying attention to moments of experience with an accepting and friendly attitude so as to observe with all the senses what is happening in each moment. The practice of mindfulness is an effective means of enhancing and maintaining optimal mental health and overall well-being.” – APA

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, Mindfulness training programs over the internet and with smartphone apps have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. These online and smartphone app trainings have been shown to be effective. But the question arises as to the relative effectiveness of various online and mobile trainings in inducing mindfulness and improving psychological health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Efficacy and Moderation of Mobile App-Based Programs for Mindfulness-Based Training, Self-Compassion Training, and Cognitive Behavioral Psychoeducation on Mental Health: Randomized Controlled Noninferiority Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6231823/ ), Mak and colleagues compared the efficacy of 3 smartphone aps that trained for either mindfulness, self-compassion, or cognitive behavioral psychoeducation, to improve mental health and well-being in adults.

 

They recruited adults online and randomly assigned each to one of the three trainings. The participants downloaded the apps for their smartphones. The trainings were delivered in 28 daily sessions. The mindfulness exercises, included body scan, mindful breathing, mindful eating, and mindful walking. Self-Compassion training consisted compassionate body scan, affectionate breathing, loving-kindness meditation for beginners, compassionate walking, soften-allow-soothe, self-compassion break, and self-compassion journaling. Cognitive behavioral psychoeducation included relaxation skills, coping strategies for stress, problem-solving skills, emotional management skills, and cognitive strategies for negative thoughts.

 

The participants completed online measures of mental well-being, psychological distress, mindfulness, self-compassion, discomfort with emotions, ambiguity tolerance, program satisfaction, and utilization before and after training and 3 months later. There were, unfortunately relatively low participation rates with 28% of the recruited participants who downloaded the apps never activated them. Of those that did only 24% completed their program and only 17% completed the follow-up measures. Most of the attrition occurred in the first week.

 

They found that all three trainings produced significant enhancements of mental well-being and mindfulness and significant reductions in psychological distress that persisted at the 3-month follow-up. Self-compassion, and cognitive behavioral psychoeducation trainings, but not mindfulness, resulted in higher self-compassion at the end of training but this was no longer significant at follow-up.

 

This study did not have a control condition for comparison, so the conclusions have to be tempered with the understanding that contaminants such as placebo effects, and time and practice-based contaminants might be responsible for the results. In addition, the high attrition rates may be responsible for the results as those who were not helped by the apps terminated participation leaving only those who were improving left in the sample.

 

On the other hand, other controlled studies have demonstrated the efficacy of mindfulness and self-compassion trainings and cognitive behavioral psychoeducation in improving psychological health and well-being. So, the results from the present study are likely due to the trainings and not contaminants. Hence, these findings are suggestive that the three smartphone apps are able to improve the mental health and well-being of otherwise normal adults. This is important as being able to deliver these trainings over smartphones allows for the distribution of these mental health improving programs economically to widespread audiences.

 

So, improve mental health and well-being with smartphone app mindfulness training.

 

“Fine-tuning which type of mindfulness or meditation someone uses as a prescriptive to treat a specific need will most likely be the next big advance in the public health revolution of mindfulness and meditation. Stay tuned!” – Christopher Bergland

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Mak, W. W., Tong, A. C., Yip, S. Y., Lui, W. W., Chio, F. H., Chan, A. T., & Wong, C. C. (2018). Efficacy and Moderation of Mobile App-Based Programs for Mindfulness-Based Training, Self-Compassion Training, and Cognitive Behavioral Psychoeducation on Mental Health: Randomized Controlled Noninferiority Trial. JMIR mental health, 5(4), e60. doi:10.2196/mental.8597

 

Abstract

Background

Mindfulness-based interventions, self-compassion training, and cognitive behavioral therapy have garnered much evidence in its salutary effects on mental health. With increasing application of smartphone and mobile technology on health promotion, this study investigated the efficacy and possible moderators of mindfulness, self-compassion, and cognitive behavioral psychoeducation training mobile apps in the improvement of mental health.

Objective

The aim of this study was to examine the efficacy of 3 mobile app–based programs: mindfulness-based program, self-compassion program, and cognitive behavioral psychoeducation program in improving mental well-being and reducing psychological distress. Changes in mindful awareness and self-compassion were also assessed. To further delineate the suitability of each program for different types of individuals, individual difference variables (ie, discomfort with emotions and tolerance for ambiguity) were explored for potential moderation.

Methods

This study was a 3-arm, randomized, controlled, noninferiority trial examining the efficacy of mindfulness-based program, self-compassion program, and cognitive behavioral psychoeducation. Participants were randomized into either 1 of the 3 conditions. Throughout the 4-week, 28-session program, participants spent 10-15 min daily reviewing the course content and practicing various related exercises. At preprogram, postprogram, and 3-month follow-up, participants also completed Web-based measures of mental well-being, psychological distress, mindful-awareness, and self-compassion as well as the proposed moderators.

Results

Among the 2161 study participants, 508 and 349 completed the post- and 3-month follow-up assessment, respectively. All 3 conditions (mindfulness-based program: N=703; cognitive behavioral psychoeducation: N=753; self-compassion program: N=705) were found to be efficacious in improving mental well-being and reducing psychological distress. All conditions enhanced mindful awareness at postprogram. Significant interaction effect was found on self-compassion; cognitive behavioral psychoeducation and self-compassion program, but not mindfulness-based program, significantly enhanced self-compassion at postprogram. No significant differences regarding usage and users’ satisfaction were found among the 3 conditions. None of the proposed moderators were found to be significant.

Conclusions

Mindfulness-based, self-compassion, and cognitive behavioral psychoeducation mobile apps were efficacious in improving mental well-being and reducing psychological distress among adults at postprogram and 3-month follow-up. Future app-based psychological training programs should consider gamification and personalization of content or feedback to enhance engagement and mitigate the high attrition rates that are common in app-based health promotion programs.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6231823/

 

Relieve Burnout in Practicing Psychologists with Mindful Self-Compassion Training

Relieve Burnout in Practicing Psychologists with Mindful Self-Compassion Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness interventions in the workplace target workplace functioning: reducing stress and improving decision-making, productivity, resilience, interpersonal communication, organizational relationships, perspective-taking, and self-care,”– M. Janssen

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Burnout, in fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system as it contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses.

 

Preventing burnout has to be a priority. Unfortunately, it is beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress and prevent burnout, so it is important that methods be found to reduce the individual’s responses to stress; to make the individual more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep. Mindfulness is also known to improve self-compassion, understanding one’s own suffering. It is possible that this may be a key to understanding mindfulness’ effects on burnout.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindful Self-Compassion Training Reduces Stress and Burnout Symptoms Among Practicing Psychologists: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Brief Web-Based Intervention.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02340/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_847629_69_Psycho_20181211_arts_A ), Eriksson and colleagues recruited practicing psychologists and randomly assigned them a wait list control condition or to receive mindful self-compassion training online for 6 weeks of 15 minute per day for 6 days per week. The program consisted of mindfulness exercises and compassion-focused exercises with 6 components, “(1) Kind attention, (2) Kind awareness, (3) Loving kindness with oneself and others, (4) Self-compassion—part 1, (5) Self-compassion—part 2, (6) Compassion with others and Quiet Practice.” The participants were measured before and after training for mindfulness, self-compassion, perceived stress, and burnout.

 

They found that compared to baseline and the wait-list control group, the group receiving mindful self-compassion training had significantly higher mindfulness and self-compassion and significantly lower self-coldness, perceived stress and burnout symptoms including fatigue, weariness, tension, and listlessness. They also found that the greater the change in self-compassion the greater the reduction in perceived stress and burnout. This suggests that improvements in self-compassion are an important consequence of mindfulness training in reducing burnout.

 

The fact that the program was delivered online and only involved 15 minutes per day is important for the engagement of busy professionals. This resulted in about 4 out of 5 psychologists successfully completing the program. Importantly, the observed sizes of the effects of the training were comparable to those seen in studies employing face-to-face training. Hence, offering the program online appeared to have the major advantages of convenience and wide availability without reducing effectiveness.

 

These results suggest that mindful self-compassion training delivered online is effective in reducing the symptoms of burnout in practicing psychologists. This should not only relieve the suffering of the psychologists but also make them more effective in relieving the suffering of their clients.

 

So, relieve burnout in practicing psychologists with mindful self-compassion training.

 

Self-compassion enhances our careers by increasing our motivation,16 encouraging us to take risks without fear of failure, to persist despite obstacles; it fosters personal growth, and even reduces medical errors.” – Laurie Keefer

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Eriksson T, Germundsjö L, Åström E and Rönnlund M (2018) Mindful Self-Compassion Training Reduces Stress and Burnout Symptoms Among Practicing Psychologists: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Brief Web-Based Intervention. Front. Psychol. 9:2340. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02340

 

Objective: The aims of this study were (a) to examine the effects of a 6 weeks web-based mindful self-compassion program on stress and burnout symptoms in a group of practicing psychologists, and (b) to examine relationships between changes in self-compassion and self-coldness and changes in stress and burnout symptoms.

Method: In a randomized controlled trial, 101 practicing psychologists were assigned to a training group (n = 51) or a wait-list control group (n = 49). The training encompassed 15 min exercises per day, 6 days a week, for 6 weeks. The participants completed the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS), the Five Facets of Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and the Shirom Melamed Burnout Questionnaire (SMBQ) pre and post intervention.

Results: Eighty-one participants (n = 40 in the training group, n = 41 in the control group) took part in the pre and post intervention assessments. Selective gains for the intervention group were observed for SCS total scores (d = 0.86; d = 0.94 for the SCS), FFMQ scores (d = 0.60), while levels of self-coldness was reduced (d = 0.73). Critically, levels of perceived stress (d = 0.59) and burnout symptoms (d = 0.44 for SMBQ total) were additionally lowered post intervention. Finally, the results confirmed the hypothesis that the measures of distress would be more strongly related to self-coldness than self-compassion, a pattern seen in cross-sectional analyses and, for burnout, also in the longitudinal analyses.

Conclusions: This training program appeared effective to increase self-compassion/reduce self-coldness, and to alleviate stress and symptoms of burnout and provide support of the distinction between self-compassion and self-coldness. Additional studies, preferably three-armed RCTs with long-term follow-up, are warranted to further evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02340/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_847629_69_Psycho_20181211_arts_A

 

Improve Mental Health with Mindfulness Learned Over the Internet

Improve Mental Health with Mindfulness Learned Over the Internet

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“With the rise of mental illness and the increasingly pressing need for effective treatments, there’s never been a more important moment for mindfulness — the ability to cultivate a focused, non-judgmental awareness on the present moment. Research has shown mindfulness and meditation-based programs to hold promise for treating a number of psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Carolyn Gregoire

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, online mindfulness training programs have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. There is evidence that mindfulness programs delivered online can be quite effective. But there is a need to further investigate the effectiveness of these programs as an alternative to face-to-face trainings for the treatment of clinical mental health problems.

 

In today’s Research News article “Web-Based Mindfulness Interventions for Mental Health Treatment: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6231788/ ), Sevilla-Llewellyn-Jones and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness on mindfulness training delivered online for the improvement of clinical mental health. They found 12 published studies employing patients with diagnosed mental health issues who received online mindfulness training.

 

They found that the published research literature reported that online mindfulness training produced significant improvements in depression and anxiety, especially in patients diagnosed with anxiety disorders. In addition, they found that online mindfulness training produced significant improvements in quality of life and mindfulness skills in these clinical patients. The effects were strongest when the control condition was a wait-list and less so, and often non-significant when compared to other active treatments. This suggests the online mindfulness training is not more but equivalently effective as other treatments.

 

These are important results as anxiety disorders and depression are very common diagnoses. It has been well established that mindfulness training improves depression and anxiety. These results extend these prior findings by demonstrating that treatment can be delivered online and to patients with clinical mental health diagnoses. The fact that the treatment was found to be especially effective for patients with anxiety disorders is important as patients with anxiety disorders may be reticent to venture into a clinical environment to receive treatment. Being able to receive treatment without venturing out into the outside world with all of its anxiety evoking situations may be very helpful for these patients.

 

The fact that mindfulness training can be effective when delivered online is very important. Online delivery allows for the application of mindfulness training to a much wider audience at low cost and thus increases the availability of treatment for the relief of suffering,

 

So, improve mental health with mindfulness learned over the internet.

 

“Mindfulness helps to be awakening to the patterns of the mind rather than emptying the mind. It helps you to be in touch with your way of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’. It is a concept that could be life changing and worth experiencing.” – Christos Papalekas

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Sevilla-Llewellyn-Jones, J., Santesteban-Echarri, O., Pryor, I., McGorry, P., & Alvarez-Jimenez, M. (2018). Web-Based Mindfulness Interventions for Mental Health Treatment: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. JMIR mental health, 5(3), e10278. doi:10.2196/10278

 

Abstract

Background

Web-based mindfulness interventions are increasingly delivered through the internet to treat mental health conditions.

Objective

The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of web-based mindfulness interventions in clinical mental health populations. Secondary aims were to explore the impact of study variables on the effectiveness of web-based mindfulness interventions.

Methods

We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies investigating the effects of web-based mindfulness interventions on clinical populations.

Results

The search strategy yielded 12 eligible studies. Web-based mindfulness interventions were effective in reducing depression in the total clinical sample (n=656 g=−0.609, P=.004) and in the anxiety disorder subgroup (n=313, g=−0.651, P<.001), but not in the depression disorder subgroup (n=251, P=.18). Similarly, web-based mindfulness interventions significantly reduced anxiety in the total clinical sample (n=756, g=−0.433, P=.004) and the anxiety disorder subgroup (n=413, g=−0.719, P<.001), but not in the depression disorder group (n=251, g=−0.213, P=.28). Finally, web-based mindfulness interventions improved quality of life and functioning in the total sample (n=591, g=0.362, P=.02) in the anxiety disorder subgroup (n=370, g=0.550, P=.02) and mindfulness skills in the total clinical sample (n=251, g=0.724, P<.001).

Conclusions

Results support the effectiveness of web-based mindfulness interventions in reducing depression and anxiety and in enhancing quality of life and mindfulness skills, particularly in those with clinical anxiety. Results should be interpreted with caution given the high heterogeneity of web-based mindfulness interventions and the low number of studies included.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6231788/