Improve the Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Functioning of Autistic Children and Their Parents with Mindfulness

Improve the Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Functioning of Autistic Children and Their Parents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“A weekly mindfulness session for children with autism and a separate program for their parents showed promising results. After nine weekly sessions of mindfulness training, 21 adolescents with autism reported better quality of life and less time spent wandering in thought about topics like sadness, pain, and why they react to things the way they do. Parents reported that their children were more socially responsive. Parents also reported reduced stress and less frequent use of “dysfunctional parenting styles,” such as shouting.” – Sarah Hansen

 

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that tends to appear during early childhood and affect the individual throughout their lifetime. It affects a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others, delays learning of language, makes eye contact or holding a conversation difficult, impairs reasoning and planning, narrows and intensifies interests, produces poor motor skills and sensory sensitivities, and is frequently associated with sleep and gastrointestinal problems. ASD is a serious disorder that impairs the individual’s ability to lead independent lives including complete an education, enter into relationships or find and hold employment. It is also difficult and stressful for the caregivers.

 

The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been increasing markedly over the last couple of decades. It is currently estimated that over 1% of the world population has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Its causes are unknown and there are no known cures. Treatment is generally directed at symptoms and can include behavioral therapies and drug treatments. Clearly, there is a need for effective alternative treatment options.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be helpful in treating ASD.  In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Program for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Parents: Direct and Long-Term Improvements.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968048/ ), Ridderinkhof and colleagues examined the effectiveness of mindfulness training to improve the social and psychological health of children and their families.

 

They recruited children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their parents and provided the child and one or both parents separately with a 9-week mindfulness training program. The sessions occurred once a week for 1.5 hours. For the children the sessions included breathing meditation, body scan, a 3-min breathing space, and yoga practices. For the parents the sessions also focused on mindful parenting. Home practice was encouraged. Before and after training and 2 months and one year later, the children were measured through self- and parental report for social communications, emotional and behavioral functioning, and mindfulness. Parents were assessed for their social communications, emotional and behavioral functioning, mindfulness, and parental stress.

 

They found that after treatment and 2 months and one year later the parents reported that the children showed significant improvement in social communications and attention and significant decreases in externalizing and internalizing symptoms, and rumination. The parents showed significant improvements in their social communications, attention mindfulness, and self-compassion and significant decreases in externalizing and internalizing symptoms, perceived stress, stress concerning parenting, and over-reactivity,. Hence, the mindfulness training appeared to produce significant improvements in both the children with autism spectrum disorder and their parents.

 

The results, however, have to be interpreted very cautiously. This study ran for over a year and there was no comparison condition. During that time the children mature, learn in school, and have additional experiences and the parents continue to learn how to cope with their child’s ASD. So, the observed improvements may have occurred anyway, even without the mindfulness training. The results, though are encouraging and suggest that a randomized controlled trial is justified. ASD is such a difficult issue for the child and the parents that the investment in further study is needed.

 

So, improve the social, emotional, and behavioral functioning of autistic children and their parents with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness practices may be a viable technique in not only improving behavioral and cognitive responses in those with ASD, but also the overall well-being of their caregivers.” – Krupa Patel

 

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

 

Ridderinkhof, A., de Bruin, E. I., Blom, R., & Bögels, S. M. (2018). Mindfulness-Based Program for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Parents: Direct and Long-Term Improvements. Mindfulness, 9(3), 773–791. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0815-x

 

A combined mindfulness-based program for children and their parents (MYmind) was beneficial for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In this study, we investigated whether this program is also beneficial for younger children with ASD, whether effects last on the long-term, and whether it reduces common comorbid problems. Forty-five children referred with ASD aged 8 until 19 years old, and their parents participated. Repeated measures of children’s and parents’ social communication problems, emotional and behavioral functioning, mindful awareness, and of parenting were conducted pre-intervention, post intervention, 2-month follow-up, and 1-year follow-up. While children did not report significant changes in mindful awareness, their social communication problems decreased, and their emotional and behavioral functioning improved. Results were not consistent at each occasion; improvements reported by children were most substantial at a 2-month follow-up and only partly remained at a 1-year follow-up, while all children’s improvements as reported by parents were present on all occasions. Parents themselves reported improved emotional and behavioral functioning, improved parenting, and increased mindful awareness on all occasions. Parents’ social communication problems reduced only directly after the intervention. Most improvements were supported by the qualitative investigation of children’s and parents’ experienced change as reported on open-ended questions. This study suggests that children, including adolescents, with ASD and their parents can benefit from a mindfulness-based program with parallel sessions for children and parents.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968048/

 

Rumination and Worry Interfere with the Development of Mindfulness

Rumination and Worry Interfere with the Development of Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Worry and rumination are forms of persistent negative thinking. They involve a predominance of verbal thoughts, and can be likened to a negative inner-speech. Worry is concerned with the possibility of threats in the future and ways to effectively avoid or deal with them whilst rumination is concerned more with things that happened in the past.” – MCT Institute

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving the physical and psychological condition of otherwise healthy people and also treating the physical and psychological issues of people with illnesses. Techniques such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as well as Yoga practice and Tai Chi or Qigong practice have been demonstrated to be particularly effective. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.

 

Worry (concern about the future) and rumination (repetitive thinking about the past) are associated with mental illness. One way they may do this is by disrupting the development of mindfulness. In today’s Research News article “Barriers to Mindfulness: a Path Analytic Model Exploring the Role of Rumination and Worry in Predicting Psychological and Physical Engagement in an Online Mindfulness-Based Intervention.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968050/ ), Banerjee and colleagues had adult volunteers participate in a 2-week, once a day, online Mindfulness-based self-help program. They were measured before and after the program for mindfulness, including the observe, describe, acting with awareness, non-judging, and non-reacting facets, rumination, worry, beliefs about rumination, beliefs about worry, physical engagement, and psychological engagement. The measures were intercorrelated and their relationships were assessed with a path analysis.

 

They found that the higher the levels of both rumination and worry, the lower the levels of physical and psychological engagement in the mindfulness program. The path models revealed that rumination and worry were associated with reduced physical and psychological engagement in the program and these were, in turn, associated with reductions in four of the mindfulness facets of describe, acting with awareness, non-judging, and non-reacting.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that the individual’s levels of worry and rumination before engaging in mindfulness training tend to interfere with the development of mindfulness. They appear to do so by interfering with the individual’s engagement in the program, that is by promoting disengagement. It should be kept in mind that these findings are correlational, so no conclusions about causation are warranted. But, the results suggest that training in mindfulness should take into consideration the psychological state of the participant at the beginning of the program. Perhaps, programs can be tailored for the participants state taking into consideration their levels of worry and rumination. They may, thereby, be more effective in promoting mindfulness and all of its benefits.

 

repeated practice in noticing, observing with curiosity and compassion, and shifting perspective helps participants to realise that their thoughts, emotions and sensations are just thoughts, emotions and sensations, rather than ‘truth’ or ‘me’. They learn to see more clearly the patterns of the mind, and to recognise when mood is beginning to dip without adding to the problem by falling into analysis and rumination – to stand on the edge of the whirlpool and watch it go round, rather than disappearing into it.” – B. J. Bidushi

 

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

 

Banerjee, M., Cavanagh, K., & Strauss, C. (2018). Barriers to Mindfulness: a Path Analytic Model Exploring the Role of Rumination and Worry in Predicting Psychological and Physical Engagement in an Online Mindfulness-Based Intervention. Mindfulness, 9(3), 980–992. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0837-4

 

Abstract

Little is known about the factors associated with engagement in mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs). Moreover, engagement in MBIs is usually defined in terms of class attendance (‘physical engagement’) only. However, in the psychotherapy literature, there is increasing emphasis on measuring participants’ involvement with interventions (‘psychological engagement’). This study tests a model that rumination and worry act as barriers to physical and psychological engagement in MBIs and that this in turn impedes learning mindfulness. One hundred and twenty-four participants were given access to a 2-week online mindfulness-based self-help (MBSH) intervention. Self-report measures of mindfulness, rumination, worry, positive beliefs about rumination, positive beliefs about worry and physical and psychological engagement were administered. A path analysis was used to test the linear relationships between the variables. Physical and psychological engagement were identified as two distinct constructs. Findings were that rumination and worry both predicted psychological disengagement in MBSH. Psychological engagement predicted change in the describe, act with awareness, non-judge and non-react facets of mindfulness while physical engagement only predicted changes in the non-react facet of mindfulness. Thus, rumination and worry may increase risk of psychological disengagement from MBSH which may in turn hinder cultivating mindfulness. Future suggestions for practice are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968050/

 

Reduce Anxiety and Depression in Stressed College Students with Mindfulness

Reduce Anxiety and Depression in Stressed College Students with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness is so vital. It’s being right there in the moment. It helps you be successful in everything you do. College students are under a lot of stress — that’s been a given forever. Now, they have the tools in their pocket.” – Cathleen Hardy Hansen

 

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 students to excel so that they can be admitted to the best universities and there is a lot of pressure on university students to excel so that they can get the best jobs after graduation. As a result, parents and students are constantly looking for ways to improve student performance in school. The primary tactic has been to pressure the student and clear away routine tasks and chores so that the student can focus on their studies. But, this might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s 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. So, it would seem important to examine various techniques to relieve the stress and its consequent symptoms in college students.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing the Attention Training Technique and Mindful Self-Compassion for Students with Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00827/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_662896_69_Psycho_20180605_arts_A ), Haukaas and colleagues explore the ability of attention training and mindfulness training to help relieve the anxiety and depression in college students resulting from stress.

 

They recruited undergraduate and graduate students who self-reported depression, anxiety, and stress. They were randomly assigned to receive 3 group sessions for 45 minutes for three consecutive weeks of either Attention Training or Mindfulness and Self-Compassion training. Each training included daily home practice with pre-recorded audio recordings. Attention training was designed “to strengthen attentional control and promote external focus of attention, to interrupt and break free of the cognitive attentional syndrome, consisting of prolonged worry or rumination, threat monitoring, and different unhelpful coping styles accompanied by a heightened self-focused attention.” Mindfulness and Self-Compassion training consisted of training to pay attention to the present moment and “to relate to oneself in a kinder and more accepting manner.” Training including Loving Kindness Meditation practice. Participants were measured before and after training for depression, anxiety, self-compassion, responses to thoughts, and mindfulness.

 

They found that both Attention Training and Mindfulness and Self-Compassion training produced significant reductions in general and test anxiety and depression and significant increases in mindfulness, self-compassion, attention flexibility, and self-esteem. The effects were moderate to large indicating fairly powerful effects of the treatments. It should be noted that there wasn’t a control condition and both treatments were associated with significant changes. It is thus possible that confound or bias was present that could account for some or all of the changes. But, the effects were strong and commensurate with previous findings that mindfulness training reduces anxiety and depression and increases self-compassion. Thus, it would appear that the two treatments are effective for improving the psychological health of stressed university students.

 

So, reduce anxiety and depression in stressed college students with mindfulness and attention training.

 

“taking time to catch your breath and meditate can help increase students’ overall life satisfaction. We found that underneath the stress that students are experiencing is a deep desire to appreciate life and feel meaningful connections with other people.” – Kamila Dvorakova

 

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

 

Haukaas RB, Gjerde IB, Varting G, Hallan HE and Solem S (2018) A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing the Attention Training Technique and Mindful Self-Compassion for Students With Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety. Front. Psychol. 9:827. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00827

 

The Attention Training Technique (ATT) and Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) are two promising psychological interventions. ATT is a 12-min auditory exercise designed to strengthen attentional control and promote external focus of attention, while MSC uses guided meditation and exercises designed to promote self-compassion. In this randomized controlled trial (RCT), a three-session intervention trial was conducted in which university students were randomly assigned to either an ATT-group (n = 40) or a MSC-group (n = 41). The students were not assessed with diagnostic interviews but had self-reported symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress. Participants listened to audiotapes of ATT or MSC before discussing in groups how to apply these principles for their everyday struggles. Participants also listened to audiotapes of ATT and MSC as homework between sessions. Participants in both groups showed significant reductions in symptoms of anxiety and depression accompanied by significant increases in mindfulness, self-compassion, and attention flexibility post-intervention. These results were maintained at 6-month follow-up. Improvement in attention flexibility was the only significant unique predictor of treatment response. The study supports the use of both ATT and MSC for students with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Further, it suggests that symptom improvement is related to changes in attention flexibility across both theoretical frameworks. Future studies should focus on how to strengthen the ability for attention flexibility to optimize treatment for emotional disorder.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00827/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_662896_69_Psycho_20180605_arts_A

 

Reduce Eating When Not Hungry with Mindfulness

Reduce Eating When Not Hungry with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Being mindful helps you gain awareness so you can identify specific cues that influence your eating behavior. Practicing mindfulness can change your actions so that you have a sense of greater control over eating. It allows you to make deliberate decisions about eating instead of acting without thinking. “ – Carolyn Dunn

 

Obesity has become an epidemic in the industrialized world. In the U.S. the incidence of obesity, defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or above has more than doubled over the last 35 years to currently around 35% of the population, while two thirds of the population are considered overweight or obese (BMI > 25). Although the incidence rates have appeared to stabilize, the fact that over a third of the population is considered obese is very troubling. This is because of the health consequences of obesity. Obesity is associated with cardiovascular problems such as coronary heart disease and hypertension, stroke, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and others. Indeed, obesity has been found to shorten life expectancy by eight years and extreme obesity by 14 years. Obviously, there is a need for effective treatments to prevent or treat obesity.

 

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.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and Laboratory Eating Behavior in Adolescent Girls at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5878719/ ), Annameier and colleagues recruited overweight or obese adolescent girls between 12 to 17 years of age who were at risk for the development of Type II diabetes. They were measured for body size and composition, mindfulness, episodes of loss of control (binge) eating in the past month, their state of hunger, and depressive symptoms. They were also tested in the lab where they were provided a buffet lunch meal and instructed to eat till they were no longer hungry. As a test of eating in the absence of hunger, an hour after the beginning of the lunch the girls were provided with an array of snacks (e.g. popcorn, chips, candy, and ice cream) and asked to taste them and rate them for liking. They were then left for 15 minutes and told that they could eat as much as they’d like. Their intake of the snacks was measured.

 

They found that the girls who reported engaging in loss of control eating during the previous month had higher body mass indexes (BMIs) and ate significantly more in the absence of hunger and tended to have lower mindfulness than the girls who did not report any cases of loss of control eating. They also found that the girls who reported engaging in loss of control eating ate more in the lunch when they were hungry. With the test of eating the snacks (eating in the absence of hunger) but not when eating hungry, they found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the amount eaten.

 

Hence, mindfulness is related to lower intake when hunger is absent but does not affect intake when hunger is present. This suggests that mindfulness does not affect homeostatic eating but rather only affects non-homeostatic food intake. This is important as responding to hunger with intake is adaptive, satisfying the body’s need for nutrients. On the other hand, eating in the absence of hunger is ingesting unneeded food energy and may contribute to overweight and obesity. The fact that mindfulness only appears to affect eating in the absence of hunger suggests that it tends to counteract this more harmful form of eating.

 

So, reduce eating when not hungry with mindfulness.

 

“The moment you become aware that you are eating mindlessly, it’s hard not to “see” it anymore. When you sit on the coach robotically eating chips or at a bar popping peanuts into your mouth, you recognize the behavior right away. This little inner voice speaks up and says, “Hey, I am mindlessly eating right now!”” – Susan Albers

 

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

 

Annameier, S. K., Kelly, N. R., Courville, A. B., Tanofsky-Kraff, M., Yanovski, J. A., & Shomaker, L. B. (2018). Mindfulness and Laboratory Eating Behavior in Adolescent Girls at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes. Appetite, 125, 48–56. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2018.01.030

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-based intervention has become increasingly popular to address disinhibited eating in obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D). Theoretically, present-moment attention promotes the ability to recognize and respond to internal hunger cues and to differentiate physiological hunger from other stimuli. Yet, there is limited research describing the relationship of mindfulness with disinhibited eating patterns in adolescents. In this study, we evaluated the relationship of dispositional mindfulness to laboratory eating in 107 adolescent (12–17 years) girls at risk for T2D. Adolescents reported dispositional mindfulness, were evaluated for recent loss-of-control-eating (LOC-eating) by interview, and participated in two successive, standardized laboratory test meals to assess eating when hungry as well as eating in the absence of hunger (EAH). Adolescents rated state appetite throughout the test meal paradigms. In analyses adjusting for body composition and other possible confounds, mindfulness was inversely related to caloric intake during the EAH paradigm. Mindfulness did not relate to energy intake when hungry. Instead, there was a significant interaction of reported LOC-eating by state hunger, such that girls with recent, reported LOC-eating and high state hunger consumed more calories when hungry, regardless of mindfulness. Findings suggest that in girls at risk for T2D, mindfulness may play a role in disinhibited eating. A propensity for LOC-eating may be most salient for overeating in a high hunger state.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5878719/

 

Work Conditions Affect Mindfulness at Work

Work Conditions Affect Mindfulness at Work

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness is being focused on the present moment. That means you’re not worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow, or dwelling on what happened in yesterday’s meeting. This shift enables you to take a step back and make better decisions. It also enhances creativity, focus, and productivity.” – Ashley Stahl

 

Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for our psychological and physical health. Indeed, the work environment has even become an important part of our social lives, with friendships and leisure time activities often attached to the people we work with. But, more than half of employees in the U.S. and nearly 2/3 worldwide are unhappy at work. This is partially due to work-related stress which is epidemic in the western workplace. Almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This stress can result in impaired health and can result in burnout; producing fatigue, cynicism, and professional inefficacy.

 

To help overcome unhappiness, stress, and burnoutmindfulness practices have been implemented in the workplace. Indeed, mindfulness practices have been shown to markedly reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, it has become very trendy for business to incorporate meditation into the workday to help improve employee well-being, health, and productivity. These programs attempt to increase the employees’ mindfulness at work. But, employees can be mindful at work without training. It is not known, however, what factors promote mindfulness at work and which impair it. There is actually very little systematic research on the effects of the work environment on the individual’s mindfulness.

 

In today’s Research News article “How can mindfulness be promoted? Workload and recovery experiences as antecedents of daily fluctuations in mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5969091/ ), Hülsheger and colleagues recruited adult full-time workers and measured them for quantitative workload, sleep quality, mindfulness, fatigue, and psychological detachment. They completed the measurements 3 times, during work, after work, and before going to sleep, each day for five days.

 

They found that the measurement varied considerably from day to day. With this variation they found that the higher the workload the greater the fatigue and psychological detachment and the lower the mindfulness during work and the lower the sleep quality during the subsequent night. In turn, poor sleep quality was associated with greater psychological detachment, fatigue, and workload, and the lower the mindfulness during the subsequent day’s work.

 

A path analysis to determine mediation was performed and revealed that workload was associated with fatigue which in turn was associated with lower mindfulness. In addition, the previous nights sleep quality was associated with higher levels of mindfulness on the next day. Hence, there’s a reciprocal relationship between mindfulness with sleep quality with high mindfulness associated with high sleep quality which, in turn, is associated with higher mindfulness the next day. This relationship can be disrupted by high workload which is associated with fatigue and lower subsequent mindfulness.

 

These results suggest that low workload and high sleep quality are important to high levels of mindfulness during work which, in turn leads to many benefits for the job and the employee. Keeping workload at a reasonable level should improve both sleep quality and mindfulness which should, in turn, promote better work.

 

So, maintain workloads at reasonable levels, reduce fatigue and improve mindfulness and sleep quality, resulting in the employee performing better at work.

 

“Mindfulness is not about living life in slow motion. It’s about enhancing focus and awareness both in work and in life. It’s about stripping away distractions and staying on track with individual, as well as organizational, goals.” – Rasmus Hougaard

 

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

 

Ute R. Hülsheger, Alicia Walkowiak, Marie S. Thommes. How can mindfulness be promoted? Workload and recovery experiences as antecedents of daily fluctuations in mindfulness. J Occup Organ Psychol. 2018 Jun; 91(2): 261–284. Published online 2018 Mar 4. doi: 10.1111/joop.12206

 

Abstract

While previous work on mindfulness has focused predominantly on the benefits of mindfulness and of mindfulness interventions, the present article addresses the question of how natural experiences of mindfulness can be promoted in the context of work. Accordingly, this article sheds light on day‐to‐day fluctuations in workload and recovery experiences (psychological detachment and sleep quality) as antecedents of state mindfulness. Furthermore, this study extends extant research that has documented beneficial effects of mindfulness on subsequent recovery experiences by arguing that the relationship between mindfulness and recovery experiences is reciprocal rather than unidirectional. Using an experience‐sampling design across five workdays and involving three daily measurement occasions, we found that sleep quality and workload were related to subsequent levels of mindfulness. While not displaying a significant direct relationship with mindfulness, psychological detachment was indirectly related to mindfulness via sleep quality. Fatigue was identified as an important mechanism explaining these relationships. Furthermore, findings confirmed that the relationship between mindfulness and recovery experiences is reciprocal rather than unidirectional. Taken together, this study contributes to an enriched understanding of the role of mindfulness in organizations by shedding light on factors that precede the experience of mindfulness and by pointing to the existence of gain spirals associated with recovery experiences and mindfulness.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5969091/

 

Strengthen the Brain’s Interoceptive Networks with Mindfulness

Strengthen the Brain’s Interoceptive Networks with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness strengthens interoception, operationalized here as the mean insula connection strength within the overall connectome.” – Strong et al.

 

Most of us spend the majority of our lives lost in thought. Even when we become aware of our surroundings it is principally of the sights and sounds surrounding us. It is usually only when something is very wrong that we become aware of our bodies, what is called interoceptive awareness. We are generally unaware of the signals from our bodies such as the breath, movements in the GI tract, heart beats accompanied with surges in blood pressure, the sensations from our muscles and joints, even the sensations from our skin. Adding to the lack of awareness of our bodies we are also unaware of our implicit beliefs and attitudes about our bodies and the emotions that accompany these attitudes.

 

To exemplify this, just for a moment start paying attention to the sensations coming from the contact of your clothing with your skin. You were in all probability totally unaware of these sensations until your attention was directed toward them. Now notice the feelings from your facial muscles. Are they tense, relaxed, or something in-between. You probably were not aware of their state yet they can be good indicators of stress and your emotional state. This can be a real problem as interoceptive awareness is extremely important for our awareness of our emotional state which is in turn needed to regulate and respond appropriately to the emotions. Being aware of the state of our bodies is also important for maintaining health, both for recognizing our physical state and also for making appropriate decisions about health-related behaviors. Interoceptive awareness is even fundamental to our sense of self and world view.

 

Most contemplative practices focus attention on our internal state and thus improve our body awareness. But, in fact there is little empirical evidence on how this is accomplished. The insula cortex is a large piece of cerebral cortex has been covered and is buried deep inside at the juncture of the parietal, temporal, and frontal lobes. The insula is highly interconnected with a wide variety of other cortical and subcortical areas of the brain and it has been implicated in interoceptive awareness. So, changes in the insula may well reflect changes in interoceptive awareness. This suggests that mindfulness training would produce changes in the insula cortex.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness training induces structural connectome changes in insula networks.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5962606/ ), Sharp and colleagues examined the Magnetic Resonance Images (MRIs) from two groups of participants in a larger study. Both groups had received cognitive training plus physical fitness training, while one group received an additional mindfulness training. Training consisted of 3 70-minute training sessions per week for 16 weeks. Functional Magnetic Resonance Images (f-MRIs) were obtained before and after training as well as a subjective interoceptive awareness measure.

 

They found that only after the training that included mindfulness training was there a significant increase in the strength of the connections between the insula cortex on the right side of the brain and the rest of the brain. These results suggest that mindfulness training alters the connectivity of the brain region that underlies interoceptive awareness. This may explain how mindfulness training improves body awareness and in turn the ability to sense and regulate emotions. Because emotion regulation is so fundamental to psychological health, these findings could explain how mindfulness training improves mental health and relieves mental illness.

 

So, strengthen the brain’s interoceptive networks with mindfulness.

 

“”Mindfulness” is a capacity for heightened present-moment awareness that we all possess to a greater or lesser extent. Training this capacity seems to have a quieting effect on brain areas associated with our subjective appraisal of our self. By considering thoughts and feelings as transitory mental events that occur, but are separate from the self, people are able to lessen their hold on their worries and positive mental health outcomes follow.” – Sian Bellock

 

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

 

Paul B. Sharp, Bradley P. Sutton, Erick J. Paul, Nikolai Sherepa, Charles H. Hillman, Neal J. Cohen, Arthur F. Kramer, Ruchika Shaurya Prakash, Wendy Heller, Eva H. Telzer, Aron K. Barbey. Mindfulness training induces structural connectome changes in insula networks. Sci Rep. 2018; 8: 7929. Published online 2018 May 21. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-26268-w

 

Abstract

Although mindfulness meditation is known to provide a wealth of psychological benefits, the neural mechanisms involved in these effects remain to be well characterized. A central question is whether the observed benefits of mindfulness training derive from specific changes in the structural brain connectome that do not result from alternative forms of experimental intervention. Measures of whole-brain and node-level structural connectome changes induced by mindfulness training were compared with those induced by cognitive and physical fitness training within a large, multi-group intervention protocol (n = 86). Whole-brain analyses examined global graph-theoretical changes in structural network topology. A hypothesis-driven approach was taken to investigate connectivity changes within the insula, which was predicted here to mediate interoceptive awareness skills that have been shown to improve through mindfulness training. No global changes were observed in whole-brain network topology. However, node-level results confirmed a priori hypotheses, demonstrating significant increases in mean connection strength in right insula across all of its connections. Present findings suggest that mindfulness strengthens interoception, operationalized here as the mean insula connection strength within the overall connectome. This finding further elucidates the neural mechanisms of mindfulness meditation and motivates new perspectives about the unique benefits of mindfulness training compared to contemporary cognitive and physical fitness interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5962606/

 

Relieve the Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with Mindfulness

Relieve the Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness can help people train themselves to get unstuck from a vicious cycle of negative thinking, often a cornerstone of trauma.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. But, only a fraction will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But this still results in a frightening number of people with 7%-8% of the population developing PTSD at some point in their life. For military personnel, it’s much more likely for PTSD to develop with about 11%-20% of those who have served in a war zone developing PTSD.

 

PTSD involves a number of troubling symptoms including reliving the event with the same fear and horror in nightmares or with a flashback. PTSD sufferers avoid situations that remind them of the event this may include crowds, driving, movies, etc. and may avoid seeking help because it keeps them from having to think or talk about the event. They often experience negative changes in beliefs and feelings including difficulty experiencing positive or loving feelings toward other people, avoiding relationships, memory difficulties, or see the world as dangerous and no one can be trusted. Sufferers may feel hyperarousal, feeling keyed up and jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. They may experience sudden anger or irritability, may have a hard time sleeping or concentrating, may be startled by a loud noise or surprise.

 

Obviously, these are troubling symptoms that need to be addressed. There are a number of therapies that have been developed to treat PTSD. One of which, mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effective. But, it is not known which components of mindfulness training are effective and which are not. In today’s Research News article “A Qualitative Study of Mindfulness Among Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Practices Differentially Affect Symptoms, Aspects of Well-Being, and Potential Mechanisms of Action.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871168/ ), Colgan and colleagues recruited military veterans with chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)and assigned them to practice either body scan, mindful breathing, slow breathing, or sitting quietly. The veterans were trained once a week for six weeks for 20 minutes. They were asked to practice once daily at home. After the interventions they were interviewed and asked “Did you benefit from the intervention?” and “Did your PTSD symptoms improve?” Their responses were recorded, transcribed and subjected to qualitative analysis.

 

They found that the participants in the mindfulness conditions of mindful breathing and body scan reported significantly greater improvements in PTSD symptoms than participants who practiced either slow breathing or sitting quietly. They reported “enhanced present moment awareness, increased nonreactivity, increased nonjudgmental acceptance, decreased physiological arousal and stress reactivity, increased active coping skills, and greater relaxation.“

 

These findings are consistent with the literature that mindfulness training is effective in relieving the symptoms of PTSD. These findings, however, begin to identify the effective components of mindfulness trainings. For, example Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is frequently used as an intervention for PTSD. MBSR, however, is a package of techniques including meditation, body scan, and yoga. It is not clear which of these components is necessary and sufficient for the relief of the symptoms of PTSD. The present findings demonstrate that either body scan alone or mindful breathing alone are effective, but simply sitting quietly or slow breathing are not. In other words, only those practices that produce mindfulness are effective. This suggests that the induction of mindfulness is the critical component for the effectiveness of the technique to relieve the symptoms of PTSD.

 

So, relieve the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness practices can be very helpful in relieving the symptoms of toxic stress and PTSD, however, some caution is advised. It is important to choose the practices that fit the learning style and tolerance levels of the person who uses them.” – Trauma Recovery

 

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

 

Colgan, D. D., Wahbeh, H., Pleet, M., Besler, K., & Christopher, M. (2017). A Qualitative Study of Mindfulness Among Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Practices Differentially Affect Symptoms, Aspects of Well-Being, and Potential Mechanisms of Action. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 22(3), 482–493. http://doi.org/10.1177/2156587216684999

 

Abstract

This qualitative study explored and compared the subjective experiences of 102 veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 arms: (a) body scan, (b) mindful breathing, (c) slow breathing, or (d) sitting quietly. Qualitative data were obtained via semistructured interviews following the intervention and analyzed using conventional content analysis. The percentage of participants within each intervention who endorsed a specific theme was calculated. Two-proportion z tests were then calculated to determine if the differences among themes endorsed in specific groups were statistically significant. Six core themes emerged from analysis of participant responses across the 4 groups: (a) enhanced present moment awareness, (b) increased nonreactivity, (c) increased nonjudgmental acceptance, (d) decreased physiological arousal and stress reactivity, (e) increased active coping skills, and (f) greater relaxation. More participants in the mindfulness intervention groups reported improvement in PTSD symptoms when compared to participants in non-mindfulness groups. Different types of intervention targeted different symptoms and aspects of well-being. Furthermore, type of intervention may have also differentially targeted potential mechanisms of action. This article highlights the importance of employing both quantitative and qualitative research methods when investigating the dynamic process of mindfulness and may inform how practices can be tailored to the needs of the veteran with PTSD.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871168/

 

High Mindfulness and Low Anxiety is Associated with High Level Cognitive Ability

High Mindfulness and Low Anxiety is Associated with High Level Cognitive Ability

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness meditation has been found to elicit a positive impact on cognitive performance and abilities such as attention, memory, cognitive flexibility, and quality of task performance.” – Integrative Therapeutics

 

There is a tremendous amount of information present at any moment. It is a challenge to the nervous system to sort it out and pay attention to only the most significant information. This involves ignoring competing or conflicting stimuli and concentrating on only the most salient and pertinent stimuli. Mindfulness training can help. It involves a greater emphasis on attention to the immediate stimulus environment. So, it builds the capacity to focus on what is transpiring in the present moment. Mindful people generally have better attentional abilities and have fewer intrusive thoughts and less mind wandering. As a result, mindfulness has been shown to be associated with differences in thought processes, increases creativity, and improves cognitive processes.

 

In general, anxiety tends to interfere with high level thinking; interfering with cognitive ability. So, it would seem that people high in mindfulness and also low in anxiety would perform better on cognitive tasks compared to people low in mindfulness and high in anxiety. In today’s Research News article “Better Cognitive Performance Is Associated With the Combination of High Trait Mindfulness and Low Trait Anxiety.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00627/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_640301_69_Psycho_20180515_arts_A ), Jaiswal and colleagues examine this prediction.

 

They recruited adults aged 18 to 30 years through Facebook and measured them for mindfulness and anxiety. They identified participants who were 0.85 standard deviations above the mean in mindfulness and 0.85 standard deviations below the mean in anxiety (High Mindfulness – Low Anxiety) and participants who were 0.85 standard deviations below the mean in mindfulness and 0.85 standard deviations above the mean in anxiety (Low Mindfulness – High Anxiety). These participants were asked to perform a flanker distraction task to measure attentional ability, a Stroop color test to measure interference with attention, and a visual working memory task.

 

They found that the High Mindfulness – Low Anxiety group performed significantly better than the Low Mindfulness – High Anxiety group on the Stroop attention interference task and the visual working memory task, and overall working memory capacity. The results confirmed the initial hypothesis that individuals with a combination of high mindfulness and low anxiety have superior attentional and cognitive abilities. Hence, it appears that mindfulness improves cognition while anxiety interferes with it.

 

The study was a cross sectional design and neither mindfulness nor anxiety were manipulated. Thus, causation cannot be determined. The results, though, support the initiation of a study where groups are trained in mindfulness and exposed to anxiety evoking situations to determine the causal connections of the combinations of mindfulness and anxiety on the ability for high level attentional ability and thought processes.

 

Nevertheless, it appears that high mindfulness and low anxiety is associated with high level attentional and cognitive ability.

 

“new research now suggests that the mind may be easier to cognitively train than we previously believed. Psychologists studying the effects of a meditation technique known as “mindfulness ” found that meditation-trained participants showed a significant improvement in their critical cognitive skills (and performed significantly higher in cognitive tests than a control group) after only four days of training for only 20 minutes each day.” – Science daily

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Jaiswal S, Tsai S-Y, Juan C-H, Liang W-K and Muggleton NG (2018) Better Cognitive Performance Is Associated With the Combination of High Trait Mindfulness and Low Trait Anxiety. Front. Psychol. 9:627. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00627

 

There are several ways in which cognitive and neurophysiological parameters have been consistently used to explain the variability in cognitive ability between people. However, little has been done to explore how such cognitive abilities are influenced by differences in personality traits. Dispositional mindfulness and anxiety are two inversely linked traits that have been independently attributed to a range of cognitive functions. The current study investigated these two traits in combination along with measures of the attentional network, cognitive inhibition, and visual working memory (VWM) capacity. A total of 392 prospective participants were screened to select two experimental groups each of 30 healthy young adults, with one having high mindfulness and low anxiety (HMLA) and the second having low mindfulness and high anxiety (LMHA). The groups performed an attentional network task, a color Stroop task, and a change detection test of VWM capacity. Results showed that the HMLA group was more accurate than the LMHA group on the Stroop and change detection tasks. Additionally, the HMLA group was more sensitive in detecting changes and had a higher WMC than the LMHA group. This research adds to the literature that has investigated mindfulness and anxiety independently with a comprehensive investigation of the effects of these two traits in conjunction on executive function.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00627/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_640301_69_Psycho_20180515_arts_A

 

Mindfulness Training has Long-Lasting Positive Effects

Mindfulness Training has Long-Lasting Positive Effects

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“These findings suggest that mindfulness training has both short-term and long-term effects on coping. These effects (six years on) were found despite poor to moderate adherence to formal mindfulness practice.” – de Vibe et al.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being. 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. As a result, mindfulness training has been called the third wave of therapies. The vast majority of studies of mindfulness, however, are conducted over relatively short periods of time, often without follow-up and if there is follow-up it is often only for a few weeks. Hence, it is not known whether mindfulness training has long-term persisting benefits that are detectable years later.

 

In today’s Research News article “Six-year positive effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on mindfulness, coping and well-being in medical and psychology students; Results from a randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5916495/ ), de Vibe and colleagues examine whether mindfulness training has detectable benefits 6 years after training. They recruited second year medical and clinical psychology students and randomly assigned them to either receive a 7-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program or a no-treatment control condition. MBSR consists of training in meditation, yoga, and body scan. The students were measured at baseline and then one month and two, four and six years after training for mindfulness, well-being, coping, and class attendance.

 

“During the six-year follow-up period, students in the intervention group were invited to participate in optional 1.5-hour mindfulness booster sessions once every semester.” Two thirds of the students attended one or no booster sessions. “During the six-year follow-up period, the number of participants in the intervention group who reported to practice formal mindfulness exercises decreased from 112 of 140 (80%), one month after the intervention to 28 of 48 (58%), at six-year follow-up.”

 

They found that in comparison to the control group and regardless of attendance at booster sessions or home practice, participants in the MBSR training demonstrated higher levels of mindfulness, improved well-being, decreased avoidance coping, and increased problem focused coping at the six year follow-up. Hence mindfulness training resulted in improvements in mindfulness, well-being, and adaptive coping ability that lasted over a six years period with no trend toward weakening.

 

These are remarkable results that suggest that the benefits of mindfulness training are not fleeting, but rather last over substantial periods of time. To my knowledge, this is the first demonstration that the effects last for such a prolonged, 6-year, period. They underscore the ability of mindfulness training to fundamentally alter the individual’s approach to life resulting in relatively permanent improvements in their mental and physical well-being.

 

So, produce long lasting positive effects with mindfulness training.

 

“mindfulness exercises can result in long-lasting positive psychological effects, especially for people new to these experiences.” – Monique Tello

 

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

 

Michael de Vibe, Ida Solhaug, Jan H. Rosenvinge, Reidar Tyssen, Adam Hanley, Eric Garland. Six-year positive effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on mindfulness, coping and well-being in medical and psychology students; Results from a randomized controlled trial, PLoS One. 2018; 13(4): e0196053. Published online 2018 Apr 24. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0196053

 

Abstract

Longitudinal research investigating the enduring impact of mindfulness training is scarce. This study investigates the six-year effects of a seven-week mindfulness-based course, by studying intervention effects in the trajectory of dispositional mindfulness and coping skills, and the association between those change trajectories and subjective well-being at six-year follow-up. 288 Norwegian medical and psychology students participated in a randomized controlled trial. 144 received a 15-hour mindfulness course over seven weeks in the second or third semester with booster sessions twice yearly, while the rest continued their normal study curricula. Outcomes were subjective well-being, and dispositional mindfulness and coping assessed using the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire and the Ways of Coping Checklist. Analyses were performed for the intention-to-treat sample, using latent growth curve models. At six-year follow-up, students receiving mindfulness training reported increased well-being. Furthermore, they reported greater increases in the trajectory of dispositional mindfulness and problem-focused coping along with greater decreases in the trajectory of avoidance-focused coping. Increases in problem-focused coping predicted increases in well-being. These effects were found despite relatively low levels of adherence to formal mindfulness practice. The findings demonstrate the viability of mindfulness training in the promotion of well-being and adaptive coping, which could contribute to the quality of care given, and to the resilience and persistence of health care professionals.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5916495/

Improve Health Message Effectiveness with Mindfulness

Improve Health Message Effectiveness with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Individuals may benefit from cultivating mindful attention when processing potentially threatening yet beneficial health information. It’s possible that incorporating mindfulness cultivation into existing intervention strategies can promote more widespread positive health behavior.” – Yoona Kang

 

Health professionals know that lifestyle is a major contributor to health and alternatively disease. In an attempt to help alter lifestyles to promote health a frequent tactic is education; promoting positive behaviors with health messaging. Unfortunately, health messages are often met with defensiveness. They can be threatening and or induce shame in the targeted individual and thereby become counterproductive. So, it is important to develop methodologies to make health messaging less negative and more effective.

 

Mindfulness has been shown to reduce the emotional responding to a myriad of stimuli. It is therefore possible that mindfulness may improve the effectiveness of health messages.  In today’s Research News article “Dispositional Mindfulness Predicts Adaptive Affective Responses to Health Messages and Increased Exercise Motivation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5363856/ ), Kang and colleagues examine the ability of mindfulness to improve the ability of health messages to promote physical exercise.

 

They recruited relatively inactive healthy adults who came to the laboratory on three occasions. In the first visit they were measured for body size, mindfulness, exercise motivation, physical activity, and depression. For the next week they wore an accelerometer to measure their physical activity and reported to the laboratory for their second visit. At this visit they received a health message regarding the negative health consequences of a sedentary lifestyle, the benefits of exercise and ideas on how to incorporate exercise into their lives. They were also measured for positive and negative affect and exercise motivation. Over the next month they continued to wear the accelerometer and received daily health messages by text. They then reported to the lab for their third visit where they turned in their accelerometers and completed self-report measures of exercise motivation and physical activity.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness that the participants had, the lower the levels of negative emotions and feelings of shame. They also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness at the beginning of the study, the greater the levels of exercise motivation after the health messaging. They then investigated mediation for the effects of mindfulness on the effectiveness of the health messaging on exercise motivation after the month and found that mindfulness was associated with increased exercise motivation directly and indirectly by being associated with decreased negative emotions which, in turn were associated with reduced exercise motivation. In addition, they found that mindfulness was associated with increased exercise motivation directly and indirectly by being associated with decreased shame which in turn were associated with reduced exercise motivation. So, the effectiveness of the health messaging in increasing the participants motivation to engage in exercise was to some extent dependent upon their levels of mindfulness. Mindfulness appeared to work directly on exercise motivation and indirectly by reducing negative emotions and shame which were deterrents to being receptive to the messaging.

 

It should be kept in mind that this study was correlational, so causation cannot be determined. In addition, there wasn’t a no-health-messaging control condition, so the effects of potential bias and contaminants cannot be assessed. But, this study suggests that further research using more controlled conditions and manipulation of mindfulness with training is warranted. In order to make health messages effective in changing behavior, it may be necessary to combine the messaging with mindfulness exercises.

 

So, improve health message effectiveness with mindfulness.

 

“When you aren’t focused on what you’re doing, you may lose that sense of satisfaction for a job well done and, not only that, your workouts may not be as effective. Think about it; when you’re in a rush to be done, how careful are you with your form? If you added more focus to your workouts, more mindfulness to your exercises, you might get more out of them than you think.” – Paige Wehner

 

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

 

Kang, Y., O’Donnell, M. B., Strecher, V. J., & Falk, E. B. (2017). Dispositional Mindfulness Predicts Adaptive Affective Responses to Health Messages and Increased Exercise Motivation. Mindfulness, 8(2), 387–397. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0608-7

Abstract

Feelings can shape how people respond to persuasive messages. In health communication, adaptive affective responses to potentially threating messages constitute one key to intervention success. The current study tested dispositional mindfulness, characterized by awareness of the present moment, as a predictor of adaptive affective responses to potentially threatening health messages and desirable subsequent health outcomes. Both general and discrete negative affective states (i.e., shame) were examined in relation to mindfulness and intervention success. Individuals (n=67) who reported less than 195 weekly minutes of exercise were recruited. At baseline, participants’ dispositional mindfulness and exercise outcomes were assessed, including self-reported exercise motivation and physical activity. A week later, all participants were presented with potentially threatening and self-relevant health messages encouraging physical activity and discouraging sedentary lifestyle, and their subsequent affective response and exercise motivation were assessed. Approximately one month later, changes in exercise motivation and physical activity were assessed again. In addition, participants’ level of daily physical activity was monitored by a wrist worn accelerometer throughout the entire duration of the study. Higher dispositional mindfulness predicted greater increases in exercise motivation one month after the intervention. Importantly, this effect was fully mediated by lower negative affect and shame specifically, in response to potentially threatening health messages among highly mindful individuals. Baseline mindfulness was also associated with increased self-reported vigorous activity, but not with daily physical activity as assessed by accelerometers. These findings suggest potential benefits of considering mindfulness as an active individual difference variable in theories of affective processing and health communication.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5363856/