Increase Concentrative Attentional Processes with Brief Mindfulness Training

Increase Concentrative Attentional Processes with Brief Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness training produces measurable benefits to attention.” – Alexandra B. Morrison

 

One of the primary effects of mindfulness training is an improvement in the ability to pay attention to the task at hand and ignore interfering stimuli. This is an important consequence of mindfulness training and produces improvements in thinking, reasoning, and creativity. The importance of heightened attentional ability to the individual’s ability to navigate the demands of complex modern life cannot be overstated. It helps in school, at work, in relationships, or simply driving a car. As important as attention is, it’s surprising that little is known about the what attentional processes are affected by mindfulness.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Brief Mindfulness Training on Attentional Processes: Mindfulness Increases Prepulse Facilitation but Not Prepulse Inhibition.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.582057/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1757290_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211021_arts_A ) Asli and colleagues recruited healthy adults (aged 20-41 years) and randomly assigned them to either mindfulness or control condition. They underwent attentional measurement with a prepulse facilitation / prepulse inhibition test. In the test they had the magnitude of their eyeblink recorded in response to a loud abrupt tone. The tone was presented alone or preceded by a soft tone either 120 milliseconds before which produces a reduction in the startle eyeblink (prepulse inhibition) or 2 seconds before which produces an increase in the startle eyeblink (prepulse facilitation). They then listened to a 23-minute audio tape containing either mindfulness training or classical music. Followed by a repeat of the attentional test.

 

They found that the groups did not differ in their startle reflex to the tone alone or when the tone was preceded by 120 milliseconds by a soft tone. But after mindfulness training there was a significantly greater increase in the startle response than in control condition when the tone was preceded by 2 seconds by a soft tone. This indicates that mindfulness training increases prepulse facilitation and not prepulse inhibition.

 

Mindfulness is known to increase concentrative attention which focuses attention on a single object. In the present experiment the increased concentration on the prepulse when presented 2 seconds before appeared to facilitate its effects on the startle response. Hence, the present findings suggest that mindfulness improves concentrative attention. The fact that this can be done with a single brief training underlines the power of mindfulness in improving attention. This has important consequences for cognitive performance and may explain the ability of mindfulness to improve thinking, reasoning, and creativity.

 

So, Increase Concentrative Attentional Processes with Brief Mindfulness Training.

 

Mindfulness refines our attention so that we can connect more fully and directly with whatever life brings.” – Sharon Salzberg

 

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

 

Åsli O, Johansen MF and Solhaug I (2021) The Effects of Brief Mindfulness Training on Attentional Processes: Mindfulness Increases Prepulse Facilitation but Not Prepulse Inhibition. Front. Psychol. 12:582057. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.582057

 

Mindfulness is intentional focus of one’s attention on emotions, thoughts, or sensations occurring in the present moment with a nonjudgmental attitude. Recently there has been increased interest in the effects of mindfulness practice on psychological processes such as concentration, focus, and attention. In the present study, a prepulse inhibition/facilitation (PPI/PPF) paradigm was employed to investigate the effect of brief mindfulness practice on automatic attention regulation processes. PPI occurs when a relatively weak prepulse (e.g., a tone) is presented 30–500 ms before a startle-inducing stimulus, and reduces the magnitude of the startle response. Prepulse facilitation (PPF) is the increase in startle magnitude when the prepulse is presented 500 ms or more before the startle-eliciting stimulus. In the present study, the effect of engaging in a 23-min mindfulness exercise on PPI and PPF was investigated. Participants listened to either a mindfulness instruction (mindfulness group) or relaxing music (control group). In a PPI/PPF pretest and posttest, a startle-eliciting noise was presented at lead intervals of 60, 120, and 2,000 ms. Results showed that engaging in brief mindfulness practice increased prepulse facilitation at the 2,000 ms lead interval in the posttest compared to the pretest. The amount of PPI did not differ between tests.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.582057/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1757290_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211021_arts_A

 

Improve Counselor Self-Efficacy and Reduce Compassion Fatigue with Mindfulness

Improve Counselor Self-Efficacy and Reduce Compassion Fatigue with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness training may be beneficial as a prophylactic for stress and burnout for psychotherapists, counselors, and other mental health care workers.” – Tasha Felton

 

In occupations, like counseling, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It not only affects the counselors personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. 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 and self-efficacy, one’s belief in their ability to make things better. It is possible that this may be a key to understanding mindfulness’ effects on burnout.

 

In today’s Research News article “Self-Oriented Empathy and Compassion Fatigue: The Serial Mediation of Dispositional Mindfulness and Counselor’s Self-Efficacy.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.613908/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1757290_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211021_arts_A ) Zhang and colleagues recruited hotline psychological counselors online and had them complete a questionnaire measuring mindfulness, self-efficacy burnout, secondary traumatic stress, and empathy, including perspective taking, personal distress, fantasy, and empathic concern subscales.

 

They found that the higher the levels of empathy the higher the levels of burnout and secondary traumatic stress and the lower the levels of mindfulness and self-efficacy. The higher the levels of both mindfulness and self-efficacy the lower the levels of burnout and secondary traumatic stress while the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of self-efficacy. Linear structural modelling revealed that empathy was directly, positively, related to compassion fatigue and also indirectly related by being associated with self-efficacy which was in turn associated with lower compassion fatigue. Finally, empathy was also indirectly related to compassion fatigue by being negatively associated with mindfulness that was positively associated with self-efficacy which was in turn associated with lower compassion fatigue.

 

These findings are correlational. So, causation cannot be definitively established. But the associations are clear. Greater empathy is associated with greater compassion fatigue. In other words, an empathetic counselor is more likely to experience compassion fatigue which leads to burnout and secondary traumatic stress. These effects are mitigated, however, by the counselor’s empathy being associated with greater mindfulness and self-efficacy which work to lower compassion fatigue. This all leads to the suggestion that training in mindfulness may help prevent a counselor losing compassion and burning out. They may help prevent counselor burnout.

 

So, improve counselor self-efficacy and reduce compassion fatigue with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness trains us to think about our thoughts as ‘just thoughts,’” including the thought that tragedies and outrage are part of life or that trying to effect change is hopeless. Part of desensitization and empathy fatigue is that “we become numb and disengaged, lacking in introspection and compassion for others,” Steven Lynn

 

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

 

Zhang L, Ren Z, Jiang G, Hazer-Rau D, Zhao C, Shi C, Lai L and Yan Y (2021) Self-Oriented Empathy and Compassion Fatigue: The Serial Mediation of Dispositional Mindfulness and Counselor’s Self-Efficacy. Front. Psychol. 11:613908. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.613908

 

This study aimed to explore the association between self-oriented empathy and compassion fatigue, and examine the potential mediating roles of dispositional mindfulness and the counselor’s self-efficacy. A total of 712 hotline psychological counselors were recruited from the Mental Health Service Platform at Central China Normal University, Ministry of Education during the outbreak of Corona Virus Disease 2019, then were asked to complete the questionnaires measuring self-oriented empathy, compassion fatigue, dispositional mindfulness, and counselor’s self-efficacy. Structural equation modeling was utilized to analyze the possible associations and explore potential mediations. In addition to reporting confidence intervals (CI), we employed a new method named model-based constrained optimization procedure to test hypotheses of indirect effects. Results showed that self-oriented empathy was positively associated with compassion fatigue. Dispositional mindfulness and counselor’s self-efficacy independently and serially mediated the associations between self-oriented empathy and compassion fatigue. The findings of this study confirmed and complemented the etiological and the multi-factor model of compassion fatigue. Moreover, the results indicate that it is useful and necessary to add some training for increasing counselor’s self-efficacy in mindfulness-based interventions in order to decrease compassion fatigue.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.613908/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1757290_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211021_arts_A

 

Reduce Covid-19 Lockdown Stress Effects on Sleep and Work Engagement with Mindfulness

Reduce Covid-19 Lockdown Stress Effects on Sleep and Work Engagement with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Research shows that mindfulness meditation can reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression and can have a significant impact in the workplace”. – Headspace

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being in healthy individuals. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the mental and physical health of the population. It has created intense stress both for workers but also for people simply isolating at home. Mindfulness is known to decrease the psychological and physical responses to stress. So, mindfulness training may be helpful in employees coping with the mental challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

 

In today’s Research News article “Stay Mindful and Carry on: Mindfulness Neutralizes COVID-19 Stressors on Work Engagement via Sleep Duration.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.610156/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1757290_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211021_arts_A ) Zheng and colleagues performed 2 studies, recruiting working adult participants, one in China and the other in the UK during Covid-19 lockdown. They were randomly assigned to practice for 10 minutes each morning for 10 days an audio guided practice of mindfulness or mind wandering. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness, sleep quality, work engagement, and the level of stress as indicated by the number of Covid-19 cases in the area.

 

They found that with the mind wandering group the greater the number of cases reported the shorter the sleep duration of the participants while the mindfulness group had no significant change in sleep duration. In addition, they found that work engagement was positively related to sleep duration but negatively related to the number of cases reported.

 

The results suggest that mindfulness training reduces the impact of stress during Covid-19 lockdown on sleep which in turn maintains work engagement. Mindfulness has previously been shown in multiple studies to improve sleep, reduce stress effects, and improve work engagement. The present study suggests that these benefits of mindfulness practice work to buffer the effects of the stress produced by Covid-19 lockdown on sleep and work engagement. In other words mindfulness training makes employees better able to cope with stress.

 

So, reduce Covid-19 lockdown stress effects on sleep and work engagement with mindfulness.

 

“The mindful response to COVID-19 . . . exemplifies that burnout can be mitigated by system-sponsored programming.” – Marianna Klatt

 

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

 

Zheng MX, Masters-Waage TC, Yao J, Lu Y, Tan N and Narayanan J (2020) Stay Mindful and Carry on: Mindfulness Neutralizes COVID-19 Stressors on Work Engagement via Sleep Duration. Front. Psychol. 11:610156. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.610156

 

We examine whether mindfulness can neutralize the negative impact of COVID-19 stressors on employees’ sleep duration and work engagement. In Study 1, we conducted a field experiment in Wuhan, China during the lockdown between February 20, 2020, and March 2, 2020, in which we induced state mindfulness by randomly assigning participants to either a daily mindfulness practice or a daily mind-wandering practice. Results showed that the sleep duration of participants in the mindfulness condition, compared with the control condition, was less impacted by COVID-19 stressors (i.e., the increase of infections in the community). In Study 2, in a 10-day daily diary study in the United Kingdom between June 8, 2020, and June 19, 2020, we replicate our results from Study 1 using a subjective measure of COVID-19 stressors and a daily measure of state mindfulness. In addition, we find that mindfulness buffers the negative effect of COVID-19 stressors on work engagement mediated by sleep duration. As the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing and the number of reported cases continues to rise globally, our findings suggest that mindfulness is an evidence-based practice that can effectively neutralize the negative effect of COVID-19 stressors on sleep and work outcomes. The findings of the present study contribute to the employee stress and well-being literature as well as the emerging organizational research on mindfulness.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.610156/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1757290_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211021_arts_A

 

Reduce Fatigue and Depression in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis with Mindfulness

Reduce Fatigue and Depression in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

the pragmatic resiliency skills of mindfulness training may be beneficial in helping to mitigate unpleasant and unpredictable mental and physical symptoms that are associated with an MS diagnosis.” – Rachel M. Gilbertson

 

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a progressive demyelinating disease which attacks the coating on the neural axons which send messages throughout the body and nervous system. It affects about 2 million people worldwide and about 400,000 in the U.S. It is most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 50 years. Unfortunately, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis. There are a number of approved medications that are used to treat MS but are designed to lessen frequency of relapses and slow the progression of the disease, but they don’t address individual symptoms. But MS is not fatal with MS patients having about the same life expectancy as the general population. Hence, most MS sufferers have to live with the disease for many years. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness training during brief periods of hospitalization in multiple sclerosis (MS): beneficial alterations in fatigue and the mediating role of depression.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8499486/ ) Sauder and colleagues recruited patients diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) who also had symptoms of fatigue and depression during a brief (>5-day) hospital stay. During their hospital stay the patients were administered daily 45-minute mindfulness training based upon Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). They were measured before and after the hospital stay for depression, fatigue, rumination, mindfulness, cognition, and attention.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline after training there were significant increases in mindfulness and distraction techniques to cope with a negative mood and significant decreases in depression, general fatigue, and physical fatigue. Further, they found that the greater the increases in mindfulness the greater the reductions in fatigue and depression. A mediation analysis revealed that mindfulness decreased fatigue indirectly by reducing depression that in turn reduced fatigue.

 

The study lacked a control, comparison, condition and as such caution must be exercised in interpreting the results. But mindfulness has been previously demonstrated in controlled studies to reduce fatigue and depression in a wide variety of people. So, the effects of mindfulness reported here were probably due to mindfulness causing the improvements. What is new here is that mindfulness reduces depression and in turn fatigue in patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The patients also had a significant increase in the coping strategy of using distraction during negative mood states. This suggests that mindfulness training helps them to learn to distract themselves from depression and this may be the mechanism whereby mindfulness reduces depression.

 

Depression and fatigue greatly reduce the patients’ ability to conduct their lives, reducing their quality of life, So, improving depression and fatigue can be very beneficial to these patients. This suggests that mindfulness training should be recommended for patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

 

So, reduce fatigue and depression in patients with multiple sclerosis with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness practice appears to be a safe, drug-free approach to coping with stress and anxiety, which may in turn help reduce your MS symptoms.” – Amit Sood

 

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

 

Sauder, T., Hansen, S., Bauswein, C., Müller, R., Jaruszowic, S., Keune, J., Schenk, T., Oschmann, P., & Keune, P. M. (2021). Mindfulness training during brief periods of hospitalization in multiple sclerosis (MS): beneficial alterations in fatigue and the mediating role of depression. BMC neurology, 21(1), 390. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12883-021-02390-7

 

Abstract

Objectives

Persons with MS (PwMS) are frequently affected by fatigue and depression. Mindfulness-based interventions may reduce these symptoms in PwMS and consequently their application has been extended to various settings. Only few efforts have been made to explore effects of short-term mindfulness training during brief periods of hospitalization. In the current study, the feasibility and potential effects of short-term mindfulness training on depression, fatigue, rumination and cognition were explored in PwMS in an acute-care hospital setting. Based on previous work, it was further examined whether the relation between trait mindfulness and fatigue prior to and following the intervention was mediated by depression and whether a mediation effect was also observable throughout the intervention.

Methods

A short-term mindfulness training protocol was developed, tailored to the requirements of the acute-care setting. Subsequently, 30 PwMS were recruited sequentially and received mindfulness training during the routine clinical process (median duration in hospital: eight days, number of sessions: four). Participants completed relevant self-report measures (depression, fatigue, rumination) and a neuropsychological assessment before and after training.

Results

Participants reported significantly increased trait mindfulness and decreased depression and fatigue following the intervention. Respective change scores were highly correlated so that increased trait mindfulness was associated with decreased symptoms. In the rumination domain, patients reported a tendency for an increased adaptive ability to engage in distractive behavior during arising negative mood. Other measures of trait rumination and cognition remained relatively stable. Results of the mediation analyses indicated that depression mediated the negative relationship between trait mindfulness and fatigue symptoms at pre and post assessments. With regards to the change scores, an association between mindfulness and cognitive fatigue ceased to be significant when depression was controlled, albeit in this case, the mediation effect did not reach significance.

Conclusion

Results of the current study indicate that short-term mindfulness training during brief periods of hospitalization may be beneficial for PwMS. They further complement previous work by identifying depression as a potential mediator of the antagonistic relationship between mindfulness and fatigue. Based on the current exploratory study, future trials are warranted to address this mechanism of mindfulness training in more detail.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8499486/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Cognitive Performance in College Students

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Cognitive Performance in College Students

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Effective learning and sustained attention and memory are important requirements for success and well-being in academic contexts. Incorporating a mindfulness meditation course in the curriculum may be a feasible approach to improve learning effectiveness and cognition performance in university students.” – Ho-Hoi Ching

 

In the modern world education is a key for success. There is a lot of pressure on college students to excel. This stress might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s physical and mental health, well-being, and school performance. Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health. Indeed, these practices have been found to improve psychological health in college students. Mindfulness has also been shown to improve cognitive abilities. So, it is possible that mindfulness is associated with better performance in college.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness, cognitive functioning, and academic achievement in college students: the mediating role of stress.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8516329/ ) McBride and colleagues recruited college students and had them complete a questionnaire measuring mindfulness, decentering, perceived stress, cognitive abilities, cognitive concerns, and academic performance (GPA).

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness and decentering the lower the levels of perceived stress, and the higher the levels of cognitive abilities and cognitive concerns. Also, the higher the levels of perceived stress the lower the levels of cognitive abilities and cognitive concerns. Further they found that mindfulness was associated with greater cognitive abilities and cognitive concerns directly and indirectly by being associated with lower perceived stress which was in turn associated with greater cognitive abilities and cognitive concerns. The one disappointing result was that mindfulness, although associated with better cognition, was not associated with performance in college.

 

These findings are correlative. So, causation cannot be determined. But previous controlled research has demonstrated that mindfulness causes improvements in cognition and reductions in perceived stress. So, the present results are likely also due to causal effects of mindfulness on stress and cognition. The results also show that the ability of mindfulness to affect cognition is not only by directly improving cognition but also by reducing perceived stress which results in improved cognition. This is not surprising as the high levels of stress endured by college students interferes with cognition.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with better cognitive performance in college students.

 

Among undergraduate students, higher mindfulness was related both to a lower frequency of negative automatic thoughts and to an enhanced ability to let go of those thoughts.” – Praxis

 

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

 

McBride, E. E., & Greeson, J. M. (2021). Mindfulness, cognitive functioning, and academic achievement in college students:the mediating role of stress. Current Psychology (New Brunswick, N.j.), 1–11. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-021-02340-z

 

Abstract

Higher trait mindfulness may be associated with better cognitive functioning and academic achievement in college students. Although mediating mechanisms are unclear, lower stress levels could explain this relationship. Participants: Cross-sectional online survey (n = 534; 33% non-white; Apr 2018 – Sep 2019). Path analysis tested Perceived Stress as a mediator between specific facets of trait mindfulness and three measures of self-reported cognitive functioning and academic achievement: Cognitive Abilities, Cognitive Concerns, and GPA. Perceived Stress fully or partially mediated the relationship between all facets of trait mindfulness and perceived cognitive functioning. Only Decentering, however, was associated with higher GPA as a function of lower stress. Lower stress can explain the link between higher trait mindfulness and better cognitive functioning, but not necessarily academic achievement. Future research is needed to address causality, examine objective measures of cognitive functioning, and extend this explanatory model to mindfulness training.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8516329/

 

Reduce the Impact of Job Demands and Resources on Social Worker Burnout with Mindfulness

Reduce the Impact of Job Demands and Resources on Social Worker Burnout with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness is shown to help social work students and social workers reduce stress and enhance self-care, compassion and well-being.” – Pearce McCusker

 

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 social work, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. These stressors have been vastly amplified during the Covid-19 pandemic. Examining the causes of burnout, then should be a priority to find ways to improve the psychological health of social workers.

 

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.  Hence, it is reasonable to examine the association of mindfulness with the characteristics of the job and burnout to begin to determine how to improve the well-being of social work professionals.

 

In today’s Research News article “Job Demands, Resources, and Burnout in Social Workers in China: Mediation Effect of Mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8507647/ ) Huang and colleagues administered an anonymous online survey to social workers in China. They were measured during the Covid-19 pandemic for burnout including emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment subscales, job demands, job resources and mindfulness.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness and job resources the lower the levels of burnout and the higher the levels of job demands including workload and emotional demands the higher the levels of burnout. Structural equation modelling revealed that mindfulness partially mediated the associations of job resources and demands on burnout. Job resources were associated with lower burnout directly and also indirectly by being associated with higher mindfulness which was in turn associated with lower burnout. Similarly, job demands were associated with higher burnout directly and also indirectly by being associated with lower mindfulness which was in turn associated with greater burnout.

 

These results are correlative and as such causation cannot be determined. But mindfulness has been shown in past controlled research to produce lower levels of burnout. So, it is likely that the present relationships are the results of mindfulness causing higher resistance to burnout. It is not surprising that the workload and emotional demands of social work tend to produce burnout and that the resources available on the job tend to mitigate burnout. Social work is an extremely stressful occupation with high demands and low resources. So, it is promising that mindfulness may help to prevent the stress from these job characteristics from producing burnout. This suggests that mindfulness training might be incorporated into social work education to help arm the students to better deal with the job and withstand burnout.

 

So, reduce the impact of job demands and resources on social worker burnout with mindfulness.

 

a career in social work is generally highly demanding, with large caseloads and minimal compensation. Imagine, for example, performing a job in which your caseload outweighs your time, your clients are victims of chronic abuse, and you barely earn enough money to pay your mortgage.” – Heather Lonczak

 

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

 

Huang, C., Xie, X., Cheung, S. P., Zhou, Y., & Ying, G. (2021). Job Demands, Resources, and Burnout in Social Workers in China: Mediation Effect of Mindfulness. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(19), 10526. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph181910526

 

Abstract

Internationally, human service professionals, including social workers, experience high burnout and turnover rates. Despite the recent and rapid development of contemporary social work in China, Chinese social workers similarly experience significant rates of burnout. Therefore, there is a need to investigate the factors that contribute to social work burnout. This study applied the job demands and resources (JD-R) model to examine the effects of JD-R on burnout in social workers (n = 897) from Chengdu, China, and whether these relations are mediated by state mindfulness. Structural equation modeling results supported the previously hypothesized dual process by which JD-R affect burnout, specifically in a sample of social workers in China. Job demands (JD) were positively associated with burnout, while job resources (JR) were negatively associated with burnout. These relations were partially mediated by state mindfulness. JR had a strong, positive direct effect on mindfulness (β = 0.38), and its total effect on burnout was high (β = −0.56). Meanwhile, JD had a slight negative direct effect on mindfulness (β = −0.09), and its total effect on burnout was 0.42. The results suggest that the implementation of mindfulness-based interventions for social workers can potentially mitigate the effect of JD on burnout, as well as increase the effect of JR on burnout.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8507647/

 

Improve College Student Psychological Well-Being during Covid-19 with Mindfulness

Improve College Student Psychological Well-Being during Covid-19 with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness-based approaches appear well-suited to deal with the challenges presented by the time of unpresented uncertainty, change, and loss, which can take many forms in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.” – Elena Antonova

 

College is very stressful for students and this stress can impair the student’s physical and mental health, well-being, and school performance. Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health. Indeed, these practices have been found to improve psychological health in college students. The COVID-19 pandemic has created intense stress which challenged the mental and physical health of the population. As an antidote, mindfulness is known to decrease the psychological and physical responses to stress. Indeed, mindfulness training has been shown to be helpful in coping with the mental and physical challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. So, it is likely that mindfulness training will improve the psychological well-being of college students during a Covid-19 lockdown.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Efficacy of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention for College Students Under Extremely Stressful Conditions.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8498086/ ) Smit and Stavrulaki recruited two classes of college students one of which was delivered 8-weekly 75-minute sessions of mindfulness training with daily home practice. During the intervention a Covid-19 lockdown was announced, and all classes moved to online delivery. They were measured before during and after the intervention for mindfulness, coronavirus worry, perceive stress, sleep difficulties, and personality.

 

They found that at baseline mindfulness was negatively associated with neuroticism and perceived stress while neuroticism was positively associated with sleep problems and perceived stress. They found that in comparison to the no-treatment controls and baseline, after the intervention the mindfulness trained students were significantly higher in mindfulness and significantly lower in perceived stress, coronavirus worry, and sleep problems.

 

It should be noted that the control condition was passive, no-treatment, and as such confounding explanations such as placebo effects, experimenter bias, attention effects etc. could explain the results. But previous controlled research has demonstrated that mindfulness training decreases sleep problems, worry and perceived stress. So, the current results are probably due to the effects of mindfulness training. The results, though, show that mindfulness training is effective in improving college students’ well-being under the extremely stressful conditions of coronavirus lockdown.

 

So, improve college student psychological well-being during Covid-19 with mindfulness.

 

As the pandemic continues, adding to what was already an epidemic of mental health challenges, college campuses across the U.S . . .  are witnessing a rise in the need and desire for meditation and mindfulness activities.” – Silma Suba

 

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

 

Smit, B., & Stavrulaki, E. (2021). The Efficacy of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention for College Students Under Extremely Stressful Conditions. Mindfulness, 1–15. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-021-01772-9

 

Abstract

Objectives

This study evaluates the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based intervention (MBI), called Koru mindfulness, among college students.

Methods

Undergraduate students (N = 34) participated in a 4-week mindfulness curriculum embedded within a college course, while a control group (N = 35) taking a different course did not. Notably, the intervention coincided with the start of a state-wide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results

Despite the additional external stress, there was a significant main effect and a significant interaction between the intervention and time for state mindfulness, (the treatment group experienced increased state mindfulness). There was a significant main effect (higher for the control group) on coronavirus worry and a significant interaction between the intervention and time for perceived stress, with the treatment/control group experiencing decreased/increased stress over time. There was also a significant interaction between the intervention and time for sleep problems with the intervention group experiencing declines in sleep problems over time and also being more likely to experience optimal amounts of sleep over time.

Conclusions

The Koru intervention effectively increased state mindfulness, decreased stress, and improved sleep, suggesting that it is robust even under extremely stressful conditions. This study adds to the growing evidence that MBIs can play an important role in addressing rising concerns regarding the mental health of college students.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8498086/

 

Strengthen the Brain and Improve Cognition in Older Adults with Mindfulness

Strengthen the Brain and Improve Cognition in Older Adults with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness training, with its emphasis on present-focused attention and regulation of the habitual, reflexive tendencies of the mind, has the potential to enhance cognitive control operations in the elderly and the neural circuitry associated with it.” – Ruchika S Prakash

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline of the body and the brain. Every system in the body deteriorates including cognitive function (thinking ability) and motor function with a decline in strength, flexibility, and balance. There is some hope as there is evidence that these declines can be slowed. For example, a healthy diet and a regular program of exercise can slow the physical and cognitive decline of the body with aging. Also, contemplative practices such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi or qigong have all been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline. Research has found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue. Indeed, the brains of practitioners of meditation and yoga have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Training Improves Cognition and Strengthens Intrinsic Connectivity Between the Hippocampus and Posteromedial Cortex in Healthy Older Adults.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8430251/ ) Sevinc and colleagues recruited healthy elderly participants (aged 65 to 80 years) who were evaluated as cognitively normal and randomly assigned them to receive either mindfulness training or cognitive fitness training. Mindfulness training was delivered in 8 weekly 105 minute sessions and was modelled after the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program containing training in meditation, body scan, and yoga along with discussion and daily home practice. The cognitive fitness training consisted of 8 weekly 1-hour sessions of word finding and crossword puzzle solving along with home puzzle solving. They were measured before and after training for memory and cognitive performance. In addition, their brains were scanned before and after training with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

 

They found that in comparison to baseline the group that received mindfulness training had significant increases in cognitive performance, primarily due to episodic memory improvement, while the cognitive fitness training group did not. The brain scans revealed that the mindfulness group had increased functional connectivity between the hippocampus and the angular gyrus. Additionally, the improved cognitive performance after mindfulness training was associated with increased connectivity between the precuneus and the hippocampus.

 

The findings suggest that mindfulness training improves cognition in cognitively intact elderly individuals. This may be why mindfulness training has been shown to reduce age related cognitive decline and dementia. The results also suggest that these improvements in cognition may be related to changes in the connectivity of the brain. The observed changes produced by mindfulness training were in the connectivity between the hippocampus and the precuneus and between the hippocampus and the angular gyrus. These are structures included in what is known as the brain’s default mode network, which is known to have decreased activity in association with age-related cognitive decline. So, the improved connectivity may indicate that mindfulness training protects the brain from deterioration associated with aging and this may be responsible for improved cognition in the elderly.

 

So, strengthen the brain and improve cognition in older adults with mindfulness.

 

recent research suggests about how mindfulness meditation practice may help keep aging brains fit and functional.” – Grace Bullock

 

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

 

Sevinc, G., Rusche, J., Wong, B., Datta, T., Kaufman, R., Gutz, S. E., Schneider, M., Todorova, N., Gaser, C., Thomalla, G., Rentz, D., Dickerson, B. D., & Lazar, S. W. (2021). Mindfulness Training Improves Cognition and Strengthens Intrinsic Connectivity Between the Hippocampus and Posteromedial Cortex in Healthy Older Adults. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 13, 702796. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2021.702796

 

Abstract

Maintaining optimal cognitive functioning throughout the lifespan is a public health priority. Evaluation of cognitive outcomes following interventions to promote and preserve brain structure and function in older adults, and associated neural mechanisms, are therefore of critical importance. In this randomized controlled trial, we examined the behavioral and neural outcomes following mindfulness training (n = 72), compared to a cognitive fitness program (n = 74) in healthy, cognitively normal, older adults (65–80 years old). To assess cognitive functioning, we used the Preclinical Alzheimer Cognitive Composite (PACC), which combines measures of episodic memory, executive function, and global cognition. We hypothesized that mindfulness training would enhance cognition, increase intrinsic functional connectivity measured with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) between the hippocampus and posteromedial cortex, as well as promote increased gray matter volume within those regions. Following the 8-week intervention, the mindfulness training group showed improved performance on the PACC, while the control group did not. Furthermore, following mindfulness training, greater improvement on the PACC was associated with a larger increase in intrinsic connectivity within the default mode network, particularly between the right hippocampus and posteromedial cortex and between the left hippocampus and lateral parietal cortex. The cognitive fitness training group did not show such effects. These findings demonstrate that mindfulness training improves cognitive performance in cognitively intact older individuals and strengthens connectivity within the default mode network, which is particularly vulnerable to aging affects.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8430251/

 

Reduce Adolescent Internalizing Symptoms, and Impulsivity with Mindfulness

Reduce Adolescent Internalizing Symptoms, and Impulsivity with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness appears to be a way of engaging with our internal and external environment and approaching emotion that is an asset for avoiding excessively heightened internalizing symptoms.” – Sarah Clear

 

Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. But it can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. This can lead to emotional and behavioral problems. Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from internalizing symptoms such as depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health of adolescents

 

In today’s Research News article “Longitudinal Associations between Internalizing Symptoms, Dispositional Mindfulness, Rumination and Impulsivity in Adolescents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8416885/ ) Royuela-Colomer and colleagues recruited healthy adolescents (aged 11 to 17 years) and had them complete measures of mindfulness, rumination, impulsivity, and internalizing symptoms, including anxiety, depression, and perceived stress. The measures were completed again one year later.

 

They found that adolescent boys had significantly lower levels of rumination, impulsivity, and internalizing symptoms and higher levels of mindfulness than girls. They also found that at both measurement periods the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of all dependent variables. They further found that the higher the levels of mindfulness at the first measurement the lower the levels of depression, perceived stress, and impulsivity a year later. This latter finding was true both for boys and girls.

 

These findings are correlational. So, no conclusions about causation can be made. But in previous controlled studies mindfulness has been found to improve the psychological well-being of adolescents and to produce lower levels of depression, perceived stress, and impulsivity. So, the correlations obtained here likely occurred due to causal connections between the variables. These results then suggest that mindfulness may be protective against internalizing symptoms and impulsivity in adolescents. This further suggests that mindfulness training should be made part of the education of adolescents to improve their psychological well-being and reducing their destructive tendencies toward impulsive behavior.

 

So, reduce adolescent internalizing symptoms, and impulsivity with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness not only directly impacted on adolescents’ internalizing problems, but also indirectly improved their anxious and depression emotions via the reduction of rumination and the increase of acceptance.” – Meng Yu

 

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

 

Royuela-Colomer, E., Fernández-González, L., & Orue, I. (2021). Longitudinal Associations between Internalizing Symptoms, Dispositional Mindfulness, Rumination and Impulsivity in Adolescents. Journal of youth and adolescence, 50(10), 2067–2078. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-021-01476-2

 

Abstract

Mindfulness has been associated with fewer negative mental health symptoms during adolescence, but fewer studies have examined longitudinal associations between mindfulness and symptoms in conjunction with two vulnerability factors for psychopathology with mindfulness: rumination and impulsivity. This study examined longitudinal associations between internalizing symptoms (depression, anxiety, stress), mindfulness, rumination, and impulsivity over a one-year period among 352 Spanish adolescents (57.4% girls; M = 14.47, SD = 1.34). Participants completed self-reported measures of symptoms, mindfulness, rumination, and impulsivity at two time points. Mindfulness negatively predicted stress and depressive symptoms, and a bidirectional negative association was found between mindfulness and impulsivity. Impulsivity positively predicted stress, and anxiety positively predicted depressive symptoms, stress, and rumination. This study highlights the importance of mindfulness as a protective factor and impulsivity and anxiety as risk factors for internalizing symptoms throughout adolescence. These findings build on previous studies that examined longitudinal associations between mindfulness and symptoms by including rumination and impulsivity’s roles.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8416885/

 

Improve the Psychological Health of College Students with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Health of College Students with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness can help students who might be struggling, in particular medical students, find new ways of relating to the difficulties that arise in their clinical work, studying and wellbeing.” – Alice Malpass

 

In the modern world education is a key for success. Where a high school education was sufficient in previous generations, a college degree is now required to succeed in the new knowledge-based economies. There is a lot of pressure on university students to excel so that they can get the best jobs after graduation. This stress might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s physical and mental health, well-being, and school performance.

 

It is, for the most part, beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress, so it is important that methods be found to reduce the college students’ responses to stress; to make them more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices including meditationmindfulness training, and yoga practice have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Indeed, these practices have been found to reduce stress and improve psychological health in college students. So, it would seem important to summarize what has been learned about mindfulness-based approaches to improve the psychological well-being of college students studying to become health professionals.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Approaches for Managing Stress, Anxiety and Depression for Health Students in Tertiary Education: a Scoping Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8435111/ ) Parsons and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies investigating the effectiveness of mindfulness-based approaches to improve the psychological well-being of college students studying to become health professionals. They identified 24 published research studies.

 

They report that the published research studies found that mindfulness-based training produced significant reductions in perceived stress, anxiety, and depression in the health students. Hence, these health students had similar responses to mindfulness training as has been observed in a large number of studies with a variety of healthy and ill participants. This suggests that it would be beneficial to incorporate mindfulness training in the curriculum of college students studying to become health professionals. This should improve their ability to learn their professions and become more resilient and effective professionals.

 

So, improve the psychological health of college health students with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness-based interventions decrease stress, anxiety, and depression and improve mindfulness, mood, self-efficacy, and empathy in health profession students.” – Janet McConville

 

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

 

Parsons, D., Gardner, P., Parry, S., & Smart, S. (2021). Mindfulness-Based Approaches for Managing Stress, Anxiety and Depression for Health Students in Tertiary Education: a Scoping Review. Mindfulness, 1–16. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-021-01740-3

 

Abstract

Objectives

High rates of depression, anxiety and stress are reported in tertiary health students. Mindfulness-based programs have been included in the training of health students to help them manage depression, anxiety and stress; however, to date, there has been no review of best practice implementation of mindfulness for health students. The aim of this review was to evaluate the outcomes of mindfulness-based practice for health students to inform best practice with this population.

Methods

A comprehensive search was conducted of three electronic databases (PsychINFO, Medline and Embase) guided by the five-step systematic process for conducting scoping reviews to investigate mindfulness-based intervention programs for students enrolled in a tertiary institution in a health-related course.

Results

Twenty-four papers met the eligibility criteria and were reviewed in detail. Findings suggested that mindfulness-based intervention approaches are useful in decreasing depression, anxiety and stress in health students; however, challenges exist in student engagement and retention. Generalization of results was limited by the heterogeneous population, intervention designs and delivery methods, as well as a lack of standardized outcome measures.

Conclusion

The inclusion of mindfulness-based programs within tertiary curricula can be an effective approach to assist with managing depression, stress and anxiety in health students. Providing academic credit to students, improving translation of skills to working with future clients, and embedding mindfulness-based programs within the curriculum could improve engagement and retention.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8435111/