Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Patients with Parkinson’s Disease with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Patients with Parkinson’s Disease with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“People with Parkinson’s reported that stress worsened both motor and non-motor symptoms, especially tremor and anxiety. More than 38 percent of respondents found mindfulness helped manage their stress and improved motor and non-motor symptoms, including anxiety and depressed mood.” – Christina Destro

 

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is an incurable progressive degenerative disease of the central nervous system. The condition is caused by the death of nerve cells in the brain that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. There are around seven million people worldwide and one million people in the U.S. living with PD and about 60,000 people are diagnosed with PD every year. PD is associated with aging as most patients are diagnosed after age 50. In fact, it has been speculated that everyone would eventually develop PD if they lived long enough.

 

Its physical symptoms include resting tremor, slow movements, muscle rigidity, problems with posture and balance, loss of automatic movements, and slurring of speech. PD itself is not fatal but is often associated with related complications which can reduce life expectancy, such as falls, choking, and cardiovascular problems. PD also has psychological effects, especially cognitive decline, anxiety, and depression. Balance is a particular problem as it effects mobility and increases the likelihood of falls, restricting activity and reducing quality of life.

 

There are no cures for Parkinson’s Disease (PD) or even treatments to slow its progression. There are only treatments that can produce symptomatic relief. So, there is a need to discover new and different treatments. Mindfulness training has been found to improve the psychological symptoms and the quality of life with PD patientsMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) involves mindfulness training, containing sitting, walking and body scan meditations, and cognitive therapy that attempts to teach patients to distinguish between thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and behaviors, and to recognize irrational thinking styles and how they affect behavior. So, there is a need to further investigate the effectiveness of mindfulness training in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease (PD).

 

In today’s Research News article “). Online Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for People with Parkinson’s Disease and Their Caregivers: a Pilot Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9059916/ ) Seritan and colleagues recruited patients with Parkinson’s Disease who also had symptoms of anxiety and depression and their caregivers and provided them with 8 weekly 2.5 hour online sessions of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) along with home practice. They were measured before and after treatment for mindfulness, anxiety, depression, and caregiver burden.

 

They found that after Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) training there were significant reductions in anxiety and depression and significant increases in mindfulness regardless of whether the patients were high in anxiety or high in depression before treatment. Hence, online mindfulness training improves the psychological well-being of patients with Parkinson’s Disease.

 

like regular physical activity, mindfulness meditation can serve as the cornerstone for self-care that people with PD can use to manage their symptoms.” – Emily Delzell

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Seritan, A. L., Iosif, A. M., Prakash, P., Wang, S. S., & Eisendrath, S. (2022). Online Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for People with Parkinson’s Disease and Their Caregivers: a Pilot Study. Journal of technology in behavioral science, 1–15. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41347-022-00261-7

 

Abstract

Anxiety and depression are common non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Caregivers of people with PD may experience severe caregiver burden. This study explored the feasibility and potential benefits of an online mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) intervention for improving anxiety and depressive symptoms in people with PD and their caregivers (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04469049, 7/8/2020). People with PD or parkinsonism and anxiety and/or depressive symptoms and caregivers of people with PD participated in one of three online MBCT groups. Demographic variables, pre- and post-MBCT behavioral measures (GAD-7, PHQ-9, Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire — FFMQ-15, Caregiver Self-Assessment Questionnaire — CSAQ), and satisfaction surveys were collected. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize data. Pre- and post-MBCT behavioral scores were compared using mixed-effect models. Fifty-six potential participants were assessed for eligibility. Twenty-eight entered MBCT groups; all but one completed the intervention. The overall sample analyzed (22 people with PD, 4 caregivers) showed significant GAD-7 and PHQ-9 score reductions and FFMQ-15 total and observing and non-reactivity subscale score increases (all p’s < 0.05). Participants with PD and anxiety symptoms (n = 14) had a significant GAD-7 score reduction; those with PD and depressive symptoms (n = 12) had a significant PHQ-9 score reduction (both p’s < 0.05). Participants with PD also had a significant FFMQ-15 observing subscale score increase (p < 0.05). The caregiver sample was too small to be analyzed separately. Online MBCT is feasible (as measured by high attendance, completion rate, and participant satisfaction) and may be effective in improving anxiety and depressive symptoms in people with PD.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9059916/

 

Enhance Creativity and Flow with Mindfulness

Enhance Creativity and Flow with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

              

“Flexibility of thought is essential to creativity and studies show that mindfulness practice is positively correlated with cognitive flexibility.” – Wendy Ann Greeenhalgh

 

Creative solutions are unusual but appropriate and useful solutions to a problem. Problem solving most frequently involves logic and reasoning, sometimes along with mathematics. If logic and reason fail, then fanciful and out-of-the box thinking may be needed. In this case mind wandering, taking the thought process away from the failed logical strategy, is superior, often producing a solution in a flash, an “aha” moment.

 

Creative solutions often occur after an incubation period where the individual gets away from the problem for a while. This tends to break up repetitive and routine thinking that may interfere with finding a creative solution. Mindfulness practices may provide incubation periods that help to spur creative thought. Indeed, mindfulness has been found to increase creativity. Regardless, there is a need to further investigate the effects of mindfulness on creativity

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Animation-Guided Mindfulness Meditation on the Promotion of Creativity, Flow and Affect.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.894337/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1885330_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20220614_arts_A ) Chen and colleagues recruited psychologically healthy employees engaged in creative activities and provide them with either animation-based of audio guided mindfulness training 3 times per week for 8 weeks. Before and after training they completed measures of creativity (Work Creativity Scale), Mindfulness (Mindful Attention Awareness Scale), flow (Short Dispositional Flow Scale – 2), and emotions (Positive and Negative Affect Scale).

 

They found that after training there were significant improvements in all measures. The animation group, however, had significantly greater improvements in mindfulness, work creativity, and positive emotions. Path analysis revealed that mindfulness and flow were highly elated and both were associated with higher levels of creativity directly and also indirectly y being positively related to positive emotions which were in turn positively related to creativity.

 

The results demonstrate the mindfulness training produce increased creativity and well-being regardless of whether training involves animation or audio guided meditation. But animation guided meditation produced superior results. So, improve creativity and flow with mindfulness training.

 

mindfulness meditation and other mindfulness practices enhance three essential skills necessary for creative problem solving. First, mindfulness switches on divergent thinking. In other words, meditation opens your mind to new ideas. Second, mindfulness practice improves attention and makes it easier to register the novelty and usefulness of ideas. And finally, mindfulness nurtures courage and resilience in the face of skepticism and setbacks, which is important because failure and setbacks are inextricably linked with any innovation process.” – Emma Schootstra

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Chen H, Liu C, Zhou F, Chiang C-H, Chen Y-L, Wu K, Huang D-H, Liu C-Y and Chiou W-K (2022) The Effect of Animation-Guided Mindfulness Meditation on the Promotion of Creativity, Flow and Affect. Front. Psychol. 13:894337. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.894337

 

Creativity is so important for social and technological development that people are eager to find an easy way to enhance it. Previous studies have shown that mindfulness has significant effects on positive affect (PA), working memory capacity, cognitive flexibility and many other aspects, which are the key to promoting creativity. However, there are few studies on the relationship between mindfulness and creativity. The mechanism between mindfulness and creativity is still uncertain. Meditation is an important method of mindfulness training, but for most people who do not have the basic training, it’s difficult to master how to get into a state of mindfulness. Animation has been shown by many studies to help improve cognition and is often used as a guiding tool. Using animation as the guiding carrier of meditation is more convenient and easier to accept. Therefore, this study adopted the intervention method of animation-guided meditation, aiming to explore: (1) the effect of animation-guided meditation on enhancing creativity; (2) the role of flow and emotion in the influence of mindfulness on creativity. We advertised recruitment through the internal network of a creative industrial park, and the final 95 eligible participants were divided into two groups: animation (n = 48) and audio (n = 47) guided meditation. The animation group was given an animated meditation intervention, and the audio group was given an audio meditation intervention, both interventions were performed 3 times a week and last for 8 weeks. Results: (1) Animation-guided meditation significantly increased participants’ mindfulness and creativity levels; Significantly reduced their cognitive load compared to audio-guided meditation. (2) Mindfulness has a significant direct effect on creativity, and significant indirect effects on creativity; Flow and PA act as the mediating variable. Conclusion: (1) Mindfulness, flow, and PA all helped to improve the subjects’ work creativity. In addition to the direct positive impact of mindfulness on creativity, mindfulness can also have an indirect positive impact on creativity through flow and PA. (2) Compared with audio, animation can significantly reduce cognitive load and help improve users’ cognitive ability, which is more suitable for the guidance materials of mindfulness meditation to enhance the effect of meditation.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.894337/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1885330_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20220614_arts_A

 

Mindfulness Promotes Grit in College Students with Adverse Childhood Experiences

Mindfulness Promotes Grit in College Students with Adverse Childhood Experiences

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

As we introduce Mindfulness and the concept of “whole grit, the focus moves from the outside benchmarks of achievement to the inside benchmarks of achievement. The focus shifts from being a product to the process of learning and happiness. The focus shifts from the tangible grades to the intangible happiness and being in the present moment.” – Shilpi Mahajan

 

Childhood trauma can leave in its wake symptoms which can haunt the victims for the rest of their lives. These include persistent recurrent re-experiencing of the traumatic event, including flashbacks and nightmares, loss of interest in life, detachment from other people, increased depression, anxiety and emotional arousal, including outbursts of anger, difficulty concentration, and jumpiness, startling easily. Unfortunately, childhood maltreatment can continue to affect mental and physical health throughout the individual’s life. How individuals cope with childhood maltreatment helps determine the effects of the maltreatment on their mental health.

 

It has been found that experiencing the feelings and thoughts produced by trauma completely, allows for better coping. This can be provided by mindfulness. Indeed, mindfulness has been found to be effective for relieving trauma symptoms. But it is not known how mindfulness interacts with adverse childhood experiences to impact psychological well-being later. One possibility is that mindfulness helps to promote grit, perseverance for long-term goals.

 

In today’s Research News article “Adverse Childhood Experiences, Mindfulness, and Grit in College Students in China.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.891532/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1885330_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20220614_arts_A ) Cheung and colleagues recruited university students online and had them complete measures of mindfulness, grit, adverse childhood experiences, and socioeconomic status.

 

They found hat the higher the level of adverse childhood experiences the lower the level of grit while the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of grit. But considering the levels of mindfulness, the negative association of adverse childhood experiences with grit became nonsignificant. In other words, being mindful prevents adverse childhood experiences from being associated with lower levels of grit.

 

These results are correlative, and causation cannot be determined. Nevertheless, the result suggests that persevering in the pursuit of long-term goals is harmed by having experienced neglect of abuse in childhood, but being mindful prevents this, allowing the student to still pursue long-term goals even though they’ve experienced significant trauma.

 

the best predictor of success in any situation is “grit”” – Ria Sankar

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Cheung SP, Tu B and Huang C (2022) Adverse Childhood Experiences, Mindfulness, and Grit in College Students in China. Front. Psychol. 13:891532. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.891532

 

This study investigated the effect of ACEs and COVID-19 on grit and whether this effect is mediated by mindfulness. Although current scholarship has found that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) have harmful consequences to individuals across the life span, less is known about the relationship between ACEs and grit. Grit is predictive of educational success and subjective wellbeing. A cross-sectional online survey administered to junior and senior students from 12 universities spread across China was conducted from September 20, 2020 to October 5, 2020. The universities were selected from geographically diverse regions of China to ensure a diverse sample. We received 1,871 completed responses from 2,229 invited students. The survey response rate was 83.9%. The results indicated that ACEs had significantly negative effects on grit, while mindfulness had significantly positive effects on grit. Once controlling for level of mindfulness, the effects of ACEs on grit largely reduced and became insignificant. The findings of this research indicate that mindfulness has a significant mediational effect on the relation between ACEs and grit and call for mindfulness-based interventions for enhancing grit for the population at risks.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.891532/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1885330_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20220614_arts_A

 

Virtual Mindfulness Training Improves Well-Being

Virtual Mindfulness Training Improves Well-Being

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Spending too much time planning, problem solving, daydreaming, or thinking negative or random thoughts can be draining. It also can make you more likely to experience stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression. Practicing mindfulness exercises, on the other hand, can help you direct your attention away from this kind of thinking and engage with the world around you.” – Mayo Clinic

 

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. But the vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques require a trained teacher. The participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their schedules and at locations that may not be convenient.

 

As an alternative, training over the internet has been developed. This has tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of internet training in improving psychological well-being. The evidence is accumulating. So, it makes sense to review what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Virtual mindfulness interventions to promote well-being in adults: A mixed-methods systematic review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8765070/ ) Xu and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies on the effectiveness of mindfulness training over the internet to improve psychological well-being. They identified 32 published studies.

 

They report that the published studies found that internet-based mindfulness training produced significant improvements in well-being and mental health including reductions in anxiety and depression, perceived stress, sleep disruptions, and negative emotions and significant increases in academic performance and cognition, including reduced mind-wandering.

 

The published research indicates that on-line mindfulness training improves the well-being, mental health, and cognitive performance of students.

 

Even though the app we evaluate is vastly less expensive than in-person psychotherapy, it leads to comparable short-run improvements in mental health.” – Advik Shreekumar

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Xu, J., Jo, H., Noorbhai, L., Patel, A., & Li, A. (2022). Virtual mindfulness interventions to promote well-being in adults: A mixed-methods systematic review. Journal of affective disorders, 300, 571–585. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2022.01.027

 

Abstract

Background

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have experienced drastic changes in their academic and social lives with ensuing consequences towards their physical and mental well-being. The purpose of this systematic review is to identify virtual mindfulness-based interventions for the well-being of adults aged 19 to 40 years in developed countries and examine the efficacy of these techniques/exercises.

Methods

This mixed-methods systematic review follows the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines with a registered PROSPERO protocol. With a convergent integrated synthesis approach, IEEE Xplore, PsychInfo, Web of Science and OVID were searched with a predetermined criteria and search strategy employing booleans and filters for peer-reviewed and gray literature. Data screening and extraction were independently performed by two authors, with a third author settling disagreements after reconciliation. Study quality of selected articles was assessed with two independent authors using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT). Studies were analyzed qualitatively (precluding meta and statistical analysis) due to the heterogeneous study results from diverse study designs in present literature.

Results

Common mindfulness-based interventions used in the appraised studies included practicing basic mindfulness, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy programs (MBCT) and the Learning 2 BREATHE (L2B) program.

Conclusion

Studies implementing mindfulness interventions demonstrated an overall improvement in well-being. Modified versions of these interventions can be implemented in a virtual context, so adults can improve their well-being through an accessible format.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8765070/

 

Improve Weight Loss with Yoga Practice

Improve Weight Loss with Yoga Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga may be a promising way to help with behavioral change, weight loss, and maintenance by burning calories, heightening mindfulness, and reducing stress.” – Emily Cronkleton

 

Overweight and obesity is epidemic in the modern world. Despite copious research and a myriad of dietary and exercise programs, there still is no safe and effective weight loss method. Mindfulness is known to be associated with lower risk for obesityalter eating behavior and improve health in obesity. This suggests that mindfulness training may be an effective treatment for overweight alone or in combination with other therapies. Yoga is both an exercise and a mindfulness practice that has been shown to have a myriad of physical and psychological benefits. These include significant loss in weight and body mass index (BMI), resting metabolism, and body fat.

 

In today’s Research News article “A preliminary investigation of yoga as an intervention approach for improving long-term weight loss: A randomized trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8815874/ ) Unick and colleagues recruited overweight and obese adult women and had them complete a 12-week behavioral weight loss program including reduced caloric intake and increased exercise and weekly 1-hour group eating behavior therapy meetings. They then randomly assigned them to receive 12 weeks of twice weekly 1-hour classes of either yoga or culinary and nutrition classes. The women were measured before treatment, after the weight loss treatment (3 months), and after yoga or control treatment (6 months) for body size, physical activity, mindfulness perceived stress, distress tolerance, positive and negative emotions, and self-compassion.

 

The women lost on average 6.4 kg of weight over the behavioral weight loss treatment. They found that among the women with high weight loss (>5% body weight) after the 3-month yoga or control period those that practiced yoga had a significantly greater average weight loss, 9.0 kg, compared to controls, 6.7 kg and had significantly greater increases in mindfulness, distress tolerance, and self-compassion and significantly greater decreases in negative emotions and perceived stress.

 

The findings show that for overweight and obese women who had significant weight losses, as a result of a behavioral weight reduction program, those that practiced yoga during the succeeding 3 months lost more weight than controls. This suggests that practicing yoga after weight loss treatment produces greater further reductions in weight and improved psychological well-being.

 

So, yoga assists in long-term weight loss after a dietary program and improves psychological well-being.

 

Yoga, if done right, becomes a lifestyle change, which in turn can help increase physical activity and decrease emotional eating. And it can help you manage stress, which can also help with weight maintenance.” – Judi Barr

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Unick, J. L., Dunsiger, S. I., Bock, B. C., Sherman, S. A., Braun, T. D., & Wing, R. R. (2022). A preliminary investigation of yoga as an intervention approach for improving long-term weight loss: A randomized trial. PloS one, 17(2), e0263405. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0263405

 

Abstract

Objective

Yoga targets psychological processes which may be important for long-term weight loss (WL). This study is the first to examine the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of yoga within a weight management program following WL treatment.

Methods

60 women with overweight or obesity (34.3±3.9 kg/m2, 48.1±10.1 years) were randomized to receive a 12-week yoga intervention (2x/week; YOGA) or a structurally equivalent control (cooking/nutrition classes; CON), following a 3-month behavioral WL program. Feasibility (attendance, adherence, retention) and acceptability (program satisfaction ratings) were assessed. Treatment groups were compared on weight change, mindfulness, distress tolerance, stress, affect, and self-compassion at 6 months. Initial WL (3-mo WL) was evaluated as a potential moderator.

Results

Attendance, retention, and program satisfaction ratings of yoga were high. Treatment groups did not differ on WL or psychological constructs (with exception of one mindfulness subscale) at 6 months. However, among those with high initial WL (≥5%), YOGA lost significantly more weight (-9.0kg vs. -6.7kg) at 6 months and resulted in greater distress tolerance, mindfulness, and self-compassion and lower negative affect, compared to CON.

Conclusions

Study findings provide preliminary support for yoga as a potential strategy for improving long-term WL among those losing ≥5% in standard behavioral treatment.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8815874/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Medical Students School Performance

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Medical Students School Performance

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“in medical students . . . mindfulness meditation may be used to elicit positive emotions, minimize negative affect and rumination, and enable effective emotion regulation.” –  Michael Minichiello

 

Medical School is challenging both intellectually and psychologically. Stress levels are high, and burnout is common. It’s been estimated that 63% of medical students experience negative consequences from stress while symptoms of severe stress were present in 25% of students. High stress levels lead to lower performance in medical school and higher levels of physical and mental health problems, especially anxiety and depression. Indeed 50% of medical students report burnout and 11% have considered suicide in the last year.

 

Obviously, there is a need to either lower stress levels in medical education or find methods to assist medical students in dealing with the stress. One promising possibility is mindfulness training. It has been shown to reduce stress in students, to help with the negative consequences of stress and to reduce burnout in medical professionals. So, it would seem reasonable to suspect that mindfulness would be helpful in assisting medical students cope with the stress of their training.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness practice correlates with reduced exam-induced stress and improved exam performance in preclinical medical students with the “acting with awareness”, “non-judging” and “non-reacting” facets of mindfulness particularly associated with improved exam performance.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8864822/ ) Hearn and Stocker recruited undergraduate medical students at the end of their 2nd year of study and measured them 7 days before and immediately before their end-of-year examinations for salivary cortisol levels, perceived stress, mindfulness, and exam performance.

 

They found that just prior to the exams there were, not surprisingly, significant increases in perceived stress and salivary cortisol levels. The greater the increase in salivary cortisol levels the poorer the performance on the exams. In addition, the greater the students’ levels of mindfulness, including the acting with awareness, non-judging, and non-reactivity facet scores, the better the exam performance and the smaller the.increase in salivary cortisol.

 

These findings are correlative. So, causation cannot be determined. But these results suggest that mindfulness is associated with smaller physiological responses to stress and better grades.

 

Hence, the more mindful the students were the better their academic performance.

 

We all have a need to know ourselves better and to understand our place in the world. That’s the fundamental motivation  for students to not only think of medical training as learning a set of facts and procedures but also paying attention to their evolving relationship to the work that they do. The meaning they derive from that work, and their connection to it.” – Ronald Epstein

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Hearn, J. H., & Stocker, C. J. (2022). Mindfulness practice correlates with reduced exam-induced stress and improved exam performance in preclinical medical students with the “acting with awareness”, “non-judging” and “non-reacting” facets of mindfulness particularly associated with improved exam performance. BMC psychology, 10(1), 41. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-022-00754-3

 

Abstract

Background

Medical students demonstrate higher levels of psychological distress compared with the general population and other student groups, especially at exam times. Mindfulness interventions show promise in stress reduction for this group, and in the reduction of cortisol, an established clinical marker of the body’s stress response. This study investigated the relationship of mindfulness to exam-induced stress, salivary cortisol and exam performance in undergraduate medical students.

Methods

A controlled pre-post analysis design with within-groups comparisons. 67 medical students completed the five facet mindfulness questionnaire (FFMQ) and provided saliva samples, from which cortisol was extracted, during group work (control/baseline) and immediately prior to end of year 2 examinations (experimental). Academic performance data was extracted for comparison with measures.

Results

Exam-induced salivary cortisol concentration showed a significant negative relation with exam performance. Total FFMQ score showed a significant positive relation with exam performance and a significant negative relation with exam-induced salivary cortisol. The specific mindfulness facets of acting with awareness, non-judging and non-reacting also showed a positive correlation with exam performance.

Conclusions

This study suggests that there exists an important relationship between mindfulness and the physiological biomarker of stress, cortisol, and this manifests into improved assessment outcomes potentially through healthier, more adaptive coping and stress management strategies. In particular, this study identifies the acting with awareness, non-judging and non-reacting facets of mindfulness to be significantly associated with exam performance suggesting that these may be important facets for clinical educators to target when helping students with mindfulness practice.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8864822/

 

The Psychological Well-Being and Performance of Athletes is Associated with Mindfulness

The Psychological Well-Being and Performance of Athletes is Associated with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“So, while ‘mindfulness’ may seem like a current fad, the Zen-influenced philosophy and practice of karate training is in fact infused with mindfulness.” – Kris Chapman

 

Athletic performance requires the harmony of mind and body. Excellence is in part physical and in part psychological. That is why an entire profession of sports psychology has developed. “In sport psychology, competitive athletes are taught psychological strategies to better cope with a number of demanding challenges related to psychological functioning.” They use a number of techniques to enhance performance including mindfulness training. It has been shown to improve attention and concentration and emotion regulation and reduces anxiety and worry and rumination, and the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, mindfulness training has been employed by athletes and even by entire teams to enhance their performance.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Relationship between Mindfulness Practices and the Psychological State and Performance of Kyokushin Karate Athletes.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8997751/ ) Vveinhardt and Kaspare recruited adult Karate athletes and had them complete measures of mindfulness, meditation experience, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, emotional state, Karate experience, and duration and intensity of sporting experience.

 

They found that the higher the levels of the athletes’ mindfulness the lower the levels of anxiety, depression, and perceived stress. Further, they found that the athletes who meditated had better emotional states than those who didn’t. Finally, they found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the level of Karate performance as indicated by the belt they had obtained. Because these findings are correlative no conclusions regarding causation can be reached.

 

Hence, mindfulness was associated with better athletic performance and psychological well-being.

 

Karate combines breathing with simple meditation to help students become more relaxed and centered.” – Scott Bullard

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Vveinhardt, J., & Kaspare, M. (2022). The Relationship between Mindfulness Practices and the Psychological State and Performance of Kyokushin Karate Athletes. International journal of environmental research and public health, 19(7), 4001. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19074001

 

Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between mindfulness practices and the psychological state and qualification of kyokushin karate athletes. The survey was conducted using the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS-15) and the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21). The study involved 371 Lithuanian kyokushin karate athletes (of which 59.3% were male and 40.7% were female; 71.4% of research participants have practiced this sport for 11 and more years and have the 1st dan or a higher belt). The results of the study showed a positive impact of mindfulness in reducing stress experienced by athletes, improving their psychological state, and enhancing their athletic performance. A moderate negative correlation was identified between stress, anxiety, and mindfulness, and while the mindfulness score was increasing, the severity level of depression was decreasing. Meanwhile, the correlation of the meditation effect and anxiety with kyokushin karate 0–7 kyu belt was very weak but statistically significant. The research results could be useful not only for athletes and their coaches but also for sports organizations. After analysing the benefits of mindfulness for kyokushin karate athletes, mindfulness practices are proposed for the effective improvement of athletes’ physical and psychological state when preparing for professional-level competitions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8997751/

 

Improve Emotion Self-Regulation in Neurotic Students with Mindfulness

Improve Emotion Self-Regulation in Neurotic Students with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“negative emotional reactivity associated with neuroticism is partially due to low levels of mindfulness.” – Mario Wenzel

 

Neuroticism is considered a personality trait that is a lasting characteristic of the individual. It is characterized by negative feelings, repetitive thinking about the past (rumination), and worry about the future, moodiness and loneliness. It appears to be linked to vulnerability to stress. People who have this characteristic are not happy with life and have a low subjective sense of well-being and recognize that this state is unacceptable. There is some hope for people with high neuroticism as this relatively stable characteristic appears to be lessened by mindfulness training.

 

Mindfulness is also known to affect the activity of the nervous system. One way to observe the effects of mindfulness on neural activity is to measure changes in the electroencephalogram (EEG), the rhythmic electrical activity that can be recorded from the scalp. The recorded activity can be separated into frequency bands. Delta activity consists of oscillations in the 0.5-3 cycles per second band. Theta activity in the EEG consists of oscillations in the 4-8 cycles per second band. Alpha activity consists of oscillations in the 8-12 cycles per second band. Beta activity consists of oscillations in the 15-25 cycles per second band while Gamma activity occurs in the 35-45 cycles per second band. Changes in these brain activities can be compared before and after mindfulness training.

 

In today’s Research News article “Emotion Self-Regulation in Neurotic Students: A Pilot Mindfulness-Based Intervention to Assess Its Effectiveness through Brain Signals and Behavioral Data.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9002961/ ) Izhar and colleagues recruited college women who had been identified as having neuroticism. In phase 1 they had their electroencephalogram (EEG) recorded while viewing negative emotion eliciting film clips followed by a measure of cognitive response inhibition. In phase 2 they were provided with an 6-week breathing-based mindfulness training and had them practice it for at least 5 minutes daily. Before and after training they were measured for emotions, anxiety, depression, emotion regulation, and mindfulness. In phase 3 the EEG recording was repeated.

 

They found that after the mindfulness training the students had significant reductions in judgement and non-reactivity to inner experiences, anxiety, perceived stress, and the maladaptive emotion regulation strategy of suppression. In addition, after mindfulness training the students’ EEGs had significant increases in resting alpha and theta rhythms and decreases in delta rhythms.

 

These data suggest that mindfulness training improves the emotional state and emotion regulation in neurotic college women in part by altering brain activity. This further suggests that mindfulness training should be effective in improving the mental health of young women with neuroticism.

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Izhar, L. I., Babiker, A., Rizki, E. E., Lu, C. K., & Abdul Rahman, M. (2022). Emotion Self-Regulation in Neurotic Students: A Pilot Mindfulness-Based Intervention to Assess Its Effectiveness through Brain Signals and Behavioral Data. Sensors (Basel, Switzerland), 22(7), 2703. https://doi.org/10.3390/s22072703

 

Abstract

Neuroticism has recently received increased attention in the psychology field due to the finding of high implications of neuroticism on an individual’s life and broader public health. This study aims to investigate the effect of a brief 6-week breathing-based mindfulness intervention (BMI) on undergraduate neurotic students’ emotion regulation. We acquired data of their psychological states, physiological changes, and electroencephalogram (EEG), before and after BMI, in resting states and tasks. Through behavioral analysis, we found the students’ anxiety and stress levels significantly reduced after BMI, with p-values of 0.013 and 0.027, respectively. Furthermore, a significant difference between students in emotion regulation strategy, that is, suppression, was also shown. The EEG analysis demonstrated significant differences between students before and after MI in resting states and tasks. Fp1 and O2 channels were identified as the most significant channels in evaluating the effect of BMI. The potential of these channels for classifying (single-channel-based) before and after BMI conditions during eyes-opened and eyes-closed baseline trials were displayed by a good performance in terms of accuracy (~77%), sensitivity (76–80%), specificity (73–77%), and area-under-the-curve (AUC) (0.66–0.8) obtained by k-nearest neighbor (KNN) and support vector machine (SVM) algorithms. Mindfulness can thus improve the self-regulation of the emotional state of neurotic students based on the psychometric and electrophysiological analyses conducted in this study.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9002961/

 

Improve Sleep in Patients with Mental Disorders with Mindfulness

Improve Sleep in Patients with Mental Disorders with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Not getting enough sleep skews our ability to regulate our emotions. In the long run, this can increase our risk of developing a mental health condition. In turn, conditions such as anxiety and depression may cause further sleep disruption.” – James Kingsland

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that meditation has positive benefits for the individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual life. Meditation appears to be beneficial both for healthy people and for people suffering from a myriad of mental and physical illnesses. One of these benefits appears to be improving sleep and relieving insomnia.

 

It has been shown that mental disorders such as anxiety and depression are associated with sleep problems and insomnia. The research on mindfulness training for sleep problems with patients with mental disorders has been accumulating. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of mindfulness-based intervention programs on sleep among people with common mental disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9048455/ ) Chan and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials examining the effectiveness of mindfulness training for the treatment of sleep problems in patients with mental disorders. They found 10 published randomized controlled trials containing a total of 541 participants.

 

They report that the published studies found that mindfulness training significantly reduced sleep problems in patients with chronic anxiety or depression. It has been well established that mindfulness training reduces anxiety and depression. Although not addressed in the present study, it is possible that these improvements may at least in part result from improved sleep.

 

mindfulness helps patients manage anger, worry, anxiety, and depression. These researchers theorized that mindfulness may improve sleep quality by supplying patients with the mental resources to calm down the nervous system in preparation for sleep.” – Danielle Pacheco

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Chan, S. H., Lui, D., Chan, H., Sum, K., Cheung, A., Yip, H., & Yu, C. H. (2022). Effects of mindfulness-based intervention programs on sleep among people with common mental disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. World journal of psychiatry, 12(4), 636–650. https://doi.org/10.5498/wjp.v12.i4.636

 

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Sleep problems are particularly prevalent in people with depression or anxiety disorder. Although mindfulness has been suggested as an important component in alleviating insomnia, no comprehensive review and meta-analysis has been conducted to evaluate the effects of different mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) programs on sleep among people with depression or anxiety disorder.

AIM

To compare the effects of different MBI programs on sleep among people with depression or anxiety disorder.

METHODS

Related publications in Embase, Medline, PubMed and PsycINFO databases were systematically searched from January 2010 to June 2020 for randomised controlled trials. Data were synthesized using a random-effects or a fixed-effects model to analyse the effects of various MBI programs on sleep problems among people with depression or anxiety disorder. The fixed-effects model was used when heterogeneity was negligible, and the random-effects model was used when heterogeneity was significant to calculate the standardised mean differences (SMDs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).

RESULTS

We identified 397 articles, of which 10 randomised controlled trials, involving a total of 541 participants, were included in the meta-analysis. Studies of internet mindfulness meditation intervention (IMMI), mindfulness meditation (MM), mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based touch therapy (MBTT) met the inclusion criteria. The greatest effect sizes are reported in favour of MBTT, with SMDs of -1.138 (95%CI: -1.937 to -0.340; P = 0.005), followed by -1.003 (95%CI: -1.645 to -0.360; P = 0.002) for MBCT. SMDs of -0.618 (95%CI: -0.980 to -0.257; P = 0.001) and -0.551 (95%CI: -0.842 to -0.260; P < 0.0001) were reported for IMMI and MBSR in the pooling trials, respectively. Significant effects on sleep problem improvement are shown in all reviewed MBI programs, except MM, for which the effect size was shown to be non-significant.

CONCLUSION

All MBI programs (MBTT, MBCT, IMMI and MBSR), except MM, are effective options to improve sleep problems among people with depression or anxiety disorder.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9048455/

 

Online Mindfulness Training Improves Psychological Well-Being

Online Mindfulness Training Improves Psychological Well-Being

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“online mindfulness interventions may be effective at improving mental health in the general population.” – Neil Bailey

 

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. One of the primary effects of mindfulness that may be responsible for many of its benefits is that it improves the physiological and psychological responses to stress.

 

The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a trained teacher. The participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, training over the internet has been developed. This has tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of internet training in improving psychological well-being. The research has been accumulating and it makes sense to review and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Mindfulness Exercise Guided by a Smartphone App on Negative Emotions and Stress in Non-Clinical Populations: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8825782/ ) Wu and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of mindfulness training with smartphone apps for improving the psychological well-being of healthy individuals.

 

They identified 8 published research studies that included a total of 574 participants. They report that the published research studies found that mindfulness training on a smartphone produced small to moderate but significant reductions in negative emotions, depression and anxiety in healthy individuals.

 

Hence, the use of smartphone mindfulness apps improves psychological well-being.

 

Online mindfulness training can enhance mindfulness, well-being, self-perceptions of emotional intelligence, and workplace performance.” – Ruby Nadler

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Wu, J., Ma, Y., Zuo, Y., Zheng, K., Zhou, Z., Qin, Y., & Ren, Z. (2022). Effects of Mindfulness Exercise Guided by a Smartphone App on Negative Emotions and Stress in Non-Clinical Populations: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in public health9, 773296. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2021.773296

 

Abstract

Background

Studies have acknowledged that mindfulness exercise guided by a smartphone app has a positive impact on mental health and physical health. However, mindfulness guided by a smartphone app on mental health is still in its infancy stage. Therefore, we conducted a meta-analysis evaluating the effect of mindfulness intervention guided by a smartphone app on negative emotions and stress in a non-clinical population with emotional symptoms.

Methods

We searched major databases, namely, Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus, China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), and Wanfang, to identify all of the relevant studies published in English or Chinese from their inception until November 9, 2021. The methodological quality of the included studies was assessed with Cochrane risk-of-bias bias assessment tool. Two researchers independently conducted document retrieval, study selection, data extraction, and methodological quality evaluation.

Result

A total of eight studies were included in the study, with 574 subjects (experimental group: 348; control group: 226). A random effects model was selected to combine effect sizes. The results of the meta-analysis showed that mindfulness exercise guided by a smartphone app reduced negative emotions [standardized mean difference (SMD) = −0.232, 95% CI: −0.398 to −0.066, p = 0.006], depressive symptoms (SMD = −0.367, 95% CI: −0.596 to −0.137, p = 0.002), and anxiety symptoms (SMD = −0.490, 95% CI: −0.908 to −0.071, p = 0.022).

Conclusions

The findings indicate the potentially beneficial effect of mindfulness exercise guided by a smartphone app on symptoms of depression and anxiety among individuals in a non-clinical population with emotional symptoms. Considering the small number and overall methodological weakness of the included studies and lack of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), the results should be interpreted with caution, and future rigorously designed RCTs are warranted to provide more reliable evidence.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8825782/