Improve Mental Health with Mindfulness Learned Over the Internet

Improve Mental Health with Mindfulness Learned Over the Internet

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Abstract

Background

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

Objective

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

Methods

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

Results

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

Conclusions

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

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

 

Improve Psychological Health with Online Mindfulness Training

Improve Psychological Health with Online Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The research is strong for mindfulness’ positive impact in certain areas of mental health, including stress reduction, emotion and attention regulation, reduced rumination, for reducing mild to moderate depression and anxiety, and preventing depressive relapse.” – Kelle Walsh

 

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

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of an Online Mindfulness Intervention on Perceived Stress, Depression and Anxiety in a Non-clinical Sample: A Randomised Waitlist Control Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6244637/ ), Querstet and colleagues recruited adult participants online and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive a 4-week online mindfulness course. The course was implemented with audio and video components and required about 2 hours each week and additional homework. The participants were measured before and after the training for mindfulness, perceived stress, anxiety, and depression. After the wait-list controls completed their mindfulness training they completed follow-up measures at 3 and 6 months after the training.

 

They found that in comparison to the wait-list controls, the participants who received mindfulness training had significant reductions in perceived stress, anxiety, and depression. There were also significant increases in mindfulness including the observing, describing, acting with awareness, and non-judging facets. These effects were sustained 3 and 6 months after the completion of training. They also found that the decreases in perceived stress, anxiety, and depression, produced by the intervention were mediated by the increases in the non-judging facet of mindfulness. The effect on depression was also meditated by the describing facet of mindfulness.

 

It is interesting that the facet of mindfulness that appeared to have the greatest impact on the psychological health of the participants was non-judging. Hence, being able to be aware of varied experiences simply as experiences and not judging them is a key to improved psychological well-being. This makes sense as most of the things that happen to an individual are not under their control. What can be controlled are the reactions to the experiences. These are best accomplished if they can be seen as not good or bad, important or trivial, or due to some personal characteristic, but simply as they are.

 

The results add to the accumulating evidence that mindfulness can be trained online and that it produces similar benefits as face-to-face training. This is very important as this makes mindfulness training inexpensive and available to a very large population regardless of schedule and location. This makes it possible to bring the benefits of mindfulness training, promoting psychological health and well-being, to a wide audience.

 

So, improve psychological health with online mindfulness training.

 

“Mindfulness helps to train individuals in bringing back the attention time and time again when it has wandered. And it is precisely through helping individuals to not get carried away by their thoughts that mindfulness has been shown to be so effective for conditions like anxiety and depression.” – Carolyn Gregoire

 

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

Querstret, D., Cropley, M., & Fife-Schaw, C. (2018). The Effects of an Online Mindfulness Intervention on Perceived Stress, Depression and Anxiety in a Non-clinical Sample: A Randomised Waitlist Control Trial. Mindfulness, 9(6), 1825–1836.

 

Abstract

Mindfulness interventions have been shown to be effective for health and wellbeing, and delivering mindfulness programmes online may increase accessibility and reduce waiting times and associated costs; however, research assessing the effectiveness of online interventions is lacking. We sought to: (1) assess the effects of an online mindfulness intervention on perceived stress, depression and anxiety; (2) assess different facets of mindfulness (i.e. acting with awareness, describing, non-judging and non-reacting) as mechanisms of change and (3) assess whether the effect of the intervention was maintained over time. The sample was comprised of 118 adults (female, n = 95) drawn from the general population. Using a randomised waitlist control design, participants were randomised to either an intervention (INT) or waitlist control (WLC) group. Participants completed the online intervention, with the WLC group starting after a 6-week waitlist period. Participants completed measures of depression (PHQ-9), anxiety (GAD-7) and perceived stress (PSS-10) at baseline, post-treatment, 3- and 6-month follow-up. Participants who completed the mindfulness intervention (n = 60) reported significantly lower levels of perceived stress (d = − 1.25 [− 1.64, − 0.85]), anxiety (d = − 1.09 [− 1.47, − 0.98]) and depression (d = − 1.06 [− 1.44, − 0.67]), when compared with waitlist control participants (n = 58), and these effects were maintained at follow-up. The effect of the intervention was primarily explained by increased levels of non-judging. This study provides support for online mindfulness interventions and furthers our understanding with regards to how mindfulness interventions exert their positive effects.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6244637/

 

Improve Health Anxiety with Online Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Improve Health Anxiety with Online Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Most of us care about our health but for up to 5% of people, worrying about health has become a significant problem in itself. Severe health anxiety, or hypochondriasis, is said to exist when someone holds a strong fear of having a serious disease, despite all medical assurances to the contrary.” – Fabio Fuchelli

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, or 18% of the population. A characterizing feature of anxiety disorders is that the suffer overly identifies with and personalizes their thoughts. The sufferer has recurring thoughts, such as impending disaster, that they may realize are unreasonable, but are unable to shake. Health anxiety is a fear of a serious illness can interfere with their daily life. It often leads to seeking unnecessary testing and to spend days consumed by worry. Health anxiety is a relatively common condition, affecting 4% to 5% of both men and women equally.

 

Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. There are a number of psychological therapies for anxiety. But, about 45% of the patients treated do not respond to the therapy. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders.

 

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

 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), however, requires a certified trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, mindfulness-based treatments delivered over the internet have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of these internet applications in inducing mindfulness and improving psychological health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Development and Feasibility Testing of Internet-Delivered Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Severe Health Anxiety: Pilot Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5938695/ ), Hoffman and colleagues examine the acceptability and effectiveness of an internet-based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) module applied to the treatment of Health Anxiety Disorder. They recruited participants who expressed symptoms of Health Anxiety Disorder and delivered 7 once-a-week online modules of ACT including 10-15 pages of textual instructions, videos, and home exercises. The participants were measured before and after treatment and 3 months later for health anxiety, depression, anxiety, health related quality of life, life satisfaction, and psychological flexibility.

 

They found that 80% of the participants completed the program. The participants found the internet format acceptable and some commented that it produced less anxiety working on this at home instead of a hospital or clinic. They found that after treatment there were significant decreases in health anxiety, depression, and anxiety and significant increases in life satisfaction and psychological flexibility. These effects were maintained at the 3-month follow-up. Hence the internet-based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) was acceptable to patients and produced lasting benefits in reducing health anxiety and improving psychological health.

 

This study did not have a comparable control condition and as such has to be seen as a pilot feasibility study. A randomized clinical trial is needed to verify the results. But the present findings are encouraging and suggest that a large controlled study is warranted. The development of an effective online version of ACT would be particularly significant as it would markedly open up accessibility of this therapy to a much wider patient population, reduce costs, and improve outcomes.

 

So, improve health anxiety with online Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

 

“mindfulness allows us to interrupt automatic, reflexive fight, flight, or freeze reactions—reactions that can lead to anxiety, fear, foreboding, and worry.” – Bob Stahl

 

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

Hoffmann, D., Rask, C. U., Hedman-Lagerlöf, E., Ljótsson, B., & Frostholm, L. (2018). Development and Feasibility Testing of Internet-Delivered Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Severe Health Anxiety: Pilot Study. JMIR mental health, 5(2), e28. doi:10.2196/mental.9198

 

Abstract

Background

Severe health anxiety (hypochondriasis), or illness anxiety disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, is characterized by preoccupation with fear of suffering from a serious illness in spite of medical reassurance. It is a debilitating, prevalent disorder associated with increased health care utilization. Still, there is a lack of easily accessible specialized treatment for severe health anxiety.

Objective

The aims of this paper were to (1) describe the development and setup of a new internet-delivered acceptance and commitment therapy (iACT) program for patients with severe health anxiety using self-referral and a video-based assessment; and (2) examine the feasibility and potential clinical efficacy of iACT for severe health anxiety.

Methods

Self-referred patients (N=15) with severe health anxiety were diagnostically assessed by a video-based interview. They received 7 sessions of clinician-supported iACT comprising self-help texts, video clips, audio files, and worksheets over 12 weeks. Self-report questionnaires were obtained at baseline, post-treatment, and at 3-month follow-up. The primary outcome was Whiteley-7 Index (WI-7) measuring health anxiety severity. Depressive symptoms, health-related quality of life (HRQoL), life satisfaction, and psychological flexibility were also assessed. A within-group design was employed. Means, standard deviations, and effect sizes using the standardized response mean (SRM) were estimated. Post-treatment interviews were conducted to evaluate the patient experience of the usability and acceptability of the treatment setup and program.

Results

The self-referral and video-based assessments were well received. Most patients (12/15, 80%) completed the treatment, and only 1 (1/15, 7%) dropped out. Post-treatment (14/15, 93%) and 3-month follow-up (12/15, 80%) data were available for almost all patients. Paired t tests showed significant improvements on all outcome measures both at post-treatment and 3-month follow-up, except on one physical component subscale of HRQoL. Health anxiety symptoms decreased with 33.9 points at 3-month follow-up (95% CI 13.6-54.3, t11= 3.66, P=.004) with a large within-group effect size of 1.06 as measured by the SRM.

Conclusions

Treatment adherence and potential efficacy suggest that iACT may be a feasible treatment for health anxiety. The uncontrolled design and small sample size of the study limited the robustness of the findings. Therefore, the findings should be replicated in a randomized controlled trial. Potentially, iACT may increase availability and accessibility of specialized treatment for health anxiety.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5938695/

 

Improve the Physical and Psychological State of the Elderly with Qigong Exercise

Improve the Physical and Psychological State of the Elderly with Qigong Exercise

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Qi Gong is an excellent form of exercise for Seniors because of its gentle and soothing nature, anyone can do Qi Gong, regardless of age, ability, flexibility, or activity level! It is also significantly effective in improving balance, relieving pain, encouraging mobility and reducing stress.” – Exercise to heal

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities (cognition) which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. An encouraging new development is that mindfulness practices such as meditation training can significantly reduce these declines in cognitive ability. In addition, it has been found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue.

 

Qigong is gentle and safe mindfulness practice. It is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. It is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can be practiced in social groups. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. So, Qigong practice would appear to be an almost ideal gentle mindfulness training and light exercise to improve physical and psychological health in aging individuals.

 

In today’s Research News article “Acute Physiological and Psychological Effects of Qigong Exercise in Older Practitioners.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5902057/ ), Lin and colleagues recruited practitioners of Chinese Bioenergy Qigong who were between the ages of 50 to 70 years. They were measured before and after a Qigong practice session for skin conduction, heart rate, anxiety, and overall health.

 

They found that after the single Qigong practice session there was a significant increase in skin conductance and heart rate and a significant decrease in anxiety. This suggests that there was an improvement in cardiovascular function and the practitioners psychological state after a single session of Qigong practice.

 

This study was a simple pre post comparison of the physical and psychological state of aging experienced practitioners after a single Qigong practice session. As such conclusions are severely limited. But, they do provide a glimpse at the short-term effects of Qigong practice that may underlie its long-term effectiveness. Indeed, the observed acute effects are in line with those observed over the long term, with Qigong practice improving cardiovascular function and the psychological state after practicing over a number of months. These effects are particularly important for the health and well-being of aging populations.

 

So, improve the physical and psychological state of the elderly with Qigong exercise.

 

qigong exercise helps the body to heal itself. In this sense, qigong is a natural anti-aging medicine.” – Qigong Institute

 

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

 

Lin, C. Y., Wei, T. T., Wang, C. C., Chen, W. C., Wang, Y. M., & Tsai, S. Y. (2018). Acute Physiological and Psychological Effects of Qigong Exercise in Older Practitioners. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2018, 4960978. doi:10.1155/2018/4960978

 

Abstract

Qigong is a gentle exercise that promotes health and well-being. This study evaluated the acute physiological and psychological effects of one session of qigong exercise in older practitioners. A total of 45 participants (mean age, 65.14 years) were recruited. Meridian electrical conductance, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), heart rate variability (HRV), and Short Form 36 (SF-36) were evaluated and compared before and after one session of qigong exercise. The results revealed that the electrical conductance of all meridians, except spleen and bladder meridians, increased significantly (p < 0.05). Compared with baseline values, upper to lower body ratio and sympathetic/vagal index were significantly improved and closer to 1 (p = 0.011 and p = 0.007, resp.). STAI-S and STAI-T scores decreased significantly (p < 0.001 and p = 0.001, resp.). The RR interval of HRV decreased significantly (p = 0.035), a significant positive correlation was observed between kidney meridian electrical conductance and SF-36 physical scores (r = 0.74, p = 0.018), and a positive correlation was observed between pericardium meridian electrical conductance and SF-36 mental scores (r = 0.50, p = 0.06). In conclusion, one session of qigong exercise increased meridian electrical conductance, reduced anxiety, and improved body and autonomic nervous system balance. These findings provide scientific evidence for acute physiological and psychological effects of qigong exercise in older practitioners.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5902057/

 

Improve Social Anxiety Disorder with Mindfulness

Improve Social Anxiety Disorder with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Using mindfulness, we can begin to notice what happens in the body when anxiety is present and develop strategies to empower clients to “signal safety” to their nervous system. Over time, clients feel empowered to slow down their response to triggers, manage their body’s fear response (fight-or-flight) and increase their ability to tolerate discomfort. The client experiences this as feeling like they have a choice about how they will respond to a trigger.” -Jeena Cho

 

It is a common human phenomenon that being in a social situation can be stressful and anxiety producing. Most people can deal with the anxiety and can become quite comfortable. But many do not cope well and the anxiety is overwhelming, causing the individual to withdraw. Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is characterized by a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and feeling embarrassed or humiliated by their actions. This fear may be so severe that it interferes with work, school, and other activities and may negatively affect the person’s ability to form relationships.

 

Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. There are a number of psychological therapies for anxiety. But, about 45% of the patients treated do not respond to the therapy. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders including Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and also Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have been shown to be effective in treating Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). It is not known, however, if they operate through similar or different mechanisms.

 

In today’s Research News article “Trajectories of social anxiety, cognitive reappraisal, and mindfulness during an RCT of CBGT versus MBSR for social anxiety disorder.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5600696/ ), Goldin and colleagues recruited patients with diagnosed Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) and randomly assigned them to receive 12 weekly 2..5 hour sessions with daily homework of either Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). MBSR consists of a combination of meditation, body scanning, and yoga practices. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is designed to alter how the patient relates to the thought processes that often underlie and exacerbate mood disorders. They were measured before treatment, once a week during treatment, and every 3 months for the following year for social anxiety, mindfulness, and cognitive reappraisal.

 

They found that both MBSR and CBT produced a progressive significant reduction in social anxiety and significant increases in mindful attitude and reappraisal, changing thinking about social anxiety, over the course of treatment that was maintained for the year following. They also found that the cognitive reappraisal strategy of disputing, challenging anxious thoughts and feelings and reappraisal success significantly increased over the course of treatment and were maintained for the year following but CBT produce a significantly greater increases than MBSR. In addition, they found that MBSR but not CBT produced significant increases in acceptance and acceptance success of anxiety over the course of treatment that were maintained for the year following. In examining the relationships between the variables they found that reappraisal and reappraisal success were significantly associated with the reduction of social anxiety for CBT but not MBSR. On the other hand, reappraisal disputing was significantly associated with reduction of social anxiety for MBSR but not CBT.

 

These are complex but interesting results that suggest that while both MBSR and CBT produce significant reductions in social anxiety and share many similar mechanisms, they also do so in different ways. CBT appears to reduce social anxiety by increasing the cognitive reappraisal strategy of disputing, challenging anxious thoughts and feelings, and its success in reducing anxiety. MBSR, on the other hand, appears to reduce social anxiety by increasing mindful acceptance of anxiety and its success.

 

So, improve social anxiety disorder with mindfulness.

 

“The power of a mindfulness practice, however, may come in the realization that one can live a meaningful life even with social anxiety. Schjerning says that he still feels nervous in social situations but now feels compassion — not judgment — for himself, and sees that “I can be more the person I want to be.” – Jason Drwal

 

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

 

Goldin, P. R., Morrison, A. S., Jazaieri, H., Heimberg, R. G., & Gross, J. J. (2017). Trajectories of social anxiety, cognitive reappraisal, and mindfulness during an RCT of CBGT versus MBSR for social anxiety disorder. Behaviour research and therapy, 97, 1-13.

 

Highlights

CBGT and MBSR produced similar decreases in social anxiety

CBGT (vs. MBSR): greater disputing anxiety and reappraisal success

CBGT: weekly reappraisal and reappraisal success predict social anxiety

MBSR (vs. CBGT): greater acceptance of anxiety and acceptance success

MBSR: weekly mindful attitude and disputing anxiety predict social anxiety

Abstract

Cognitive-Behavioral Group Therapy (CBGT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) are efficacious in treating social anxiety disorder (SAD). It is not yet clear, however, whether they share similar trajectories of change and underlying mechanisms in the context of SAD. This randomized controlled study of 108 unmedicated adults with generalized SAD investigated the impact of CBGT vs. MBSR on trajectories of social anxiety, cognitive reappraisal, and mindfulness during 12 weeks of treatment. CBGT and MBSR produced similar trajectories showing decreases in social anxiety and increases in reappraisal (changing the way of thinking) and mindfulness (mindful attitude). Compared to MBSR, CBGT produced greater increases in disputing anxious thoughts/feelings and reappraisal success. Compared to CBGT, MBSR produced greater acceptance of anxiety and acceptance success. Granger Causality analyses revealed that increases in weekly reappraisal and reappraisal success predicted subsequent decreases in weekly social anxiety during CBGT (but not MBSR), and that increases in weekly mindful attitude and disputing anxious thoughts/feelings predicted subsequent decreases in weekly social anxiety during MBSR (but not CBGT). This examination of temporal dynamics identified shared and distinct changes during CBGT and MBSR that both support and challenge current conceptualizations of these clinical interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5600696/

 

Improve Mental Health with Yoga Nidra and Meditation

Improve Mental Health with Yoga Nidra and Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga nidra promotes deep rest and relaxation that isn’t found in your average meditation practice. The stages of body scan and breath awareness alone can be practiced to calm the nervous system, leading to less stress and better health.” – Allison Ray Jeraci

 

Meditation leads to concentration, concentration leads to understanding, and understanding leads to happiness” – This wonderful quote from the modern-day sage Thich Nhat Hahn is a beautiful pithy description of the benefits of meditation practice. Meditation allows us to view our experience and not put labels on it, not make assumptions about it, not relate it to past experiences, and not project it into the future. Rather meditation lets us experience everything around and within us exactly as it is arising and falling away from moment to moment.

 

Meditation 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. Meditation techniques have common properties of restful attention on the present moment, but there are large differences. These differences are likely to produce different effects on the practitioner. Yoga Nidra is a deep relaxation technique where the practitioner lies on the back in a “corpse pose” and is guided through body scan and imagery into a deeply relaxed state. Meditation involves a more active and concentrated process on the part of the practitioner but also leads to relaxation. It is not known if these two different contemplative techniques have different effects on psychological health.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Impact of Yoga Nidra and Seated Meditation on the Mental Health of College Professors.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6134749/ ), Ferreira-Vorkapic and colleagues recruited healthy adults and randomly assigned them to either practice Yoga Nidra of meditation for 3 months, once a week for 45 minutes, or to a wait-list control. They were measured before and after training for anxiety, depression, fear, and perceived stress.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, the participants who practiced either Yoga Nidra or meditation had significant reductions in anxiety, depression, fear, and perceived stress. There were no significant differences between the contemplative techniques on any of the measure of psychological health. Hence, the techniques would appear to be equally effective in improving the psychological state of the participants.

 

It should be mentioned that since the control condition did not receive any treatment and both treated groups had significant effects, that a subject expectancy (placebo effect), attention, of experimenter bias effects may account for the improvements. It is also possible that the techniques may produce different effects on variable that were not measured, as only negative mood states were measured and a variety of contemplative techniques have been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, fear, and perceived stress. Regardless, the present study demonstrates that the contemplative techniques of Yoga Nidra and meditation are effective in improving the psychological states of the practitioners.

 

So, improve mental health with Yoga Nidra and meditation.

 

“As you can imagine, feeling well rested is life changing, but yoga nidra also improves your overall health. A 2013 study showed that practicing yoga nidra improved anxiety, depression, and overall well-being.” – Karen Brody

 

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

 

Ferreira-Vorkapic, C., Borba-Pinheiro, C. J., Marchioro, M., & Santana, D. (2018). The Impact of Yoga Nidra and Seated Meditation on the Mental Health of College Professors. International journal of yoga, 11(3), 215-223.

 

Abstract

Background:

World statistics for the prevalence of anxiety and mood disorders shows that a great number of individuals will experience some type of anxiety or mood disorder at some point in their lifetime. Mind–body interventions such as Hatha Yoga and seated meditation have been used as a form of self-help therapy and it is especially useful for challenging occupations such as teachers and professors.

Aims:

In this investigation, we aimed at observing the impact of Yoga Nidra and seated meditation on the anxiety and depression levels of college professors.

Materials and Methods:

Sixty college professors, men and women, aged between 30 and 55 years were randomly allocated in one of the three experimental groups: Yoga Nidra, seated meditation, and control group. Professors were evaluated two times throughout the 3-month study period. Psychological variables included anxiety, stress, and depression.

Results:

Data analysis showed that the relaxation group presented better intragroup results in the anxiety levels. Meditation group presented better intragroup results only in the anxiety variable (physical component). Intergroup analysis showed that, except for the depression levels, both intervention groups presented better results than the control group in all other variables.

Conclusions:

Prepost results indicate that both interventions represent an effective therapeutic approach in reducing anxiety and stress levels. However, there was a tendency toward a greater effectiveness of the Yoga Nidraintervention regarding anxiety, which might represent an effective tool in reducing both cognitive and physiological symptoms of anxiety.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6134749/

 

Reduce Psychological Distress and Improve Emotion Regulation with Online Mindfulness Training

Reduce Psychological Distress and Improve Emotion Regulation with Online Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindful emotion regulation represents the capacity to remain mindfully aware at all times, irrespective of the apparent valence or magnitude of any emotion that is experienced. It does not entail suppression of the emotional experience, nor any specific attempts to reappraise or alter it in any way. Instead, MM involves a systematic retraining of awareness and nonreactivity, leading to defusion from whatever is experienced, and allowing the individual to more consciously choose those thoughts, emotions and sensations they will identify with, rather than habitually reacting to them.” – Richard Chambers

 

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

 

In today’s Research News article “Effectiveness of Online Mindfulness-Based Interventions on Psychological Distress and the Mediating Role of Emotion Regulation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02090/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_820262_69_Psycho_20181108_arts_A ), Ma and colleagues recruited adult participants over the web and randomly assigned them to 4 different online groups; group mindfulness-based intervention, self-direct mindfulness-based intervention, discussion group, and blank control group.

 

The group mindfulness-based intervention was similar to Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and included homework, meditation, body scan, yoga, and cognitive therapy. It was delivered over 8 weeks in 8, 2-hour, sessions including a 40-minute mindfulness practice and group online discussion. The self-direct mindfulness-based intervention condition was the same as the group mindfulness-based intervention except that there were no group discussions. The discussion group met online and discussed emotions including “positive and negative events, stress, and interpersonal communications, as well as how the participants perceived their psychological distress such as stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms, and how they dealt with their emotional problems.” The blank control group was a wait-list group that received no treatment. All participants were measured before and after the 8 weeks of training for mindfulness, emotion regulation, anxiety, and depression.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline the group mindfulness-based intervention and self-direct mindfulness-based intervention groups had large significant increases in mindfulness and emotion regulation and decreases in anxiety and depression. The group mindfulness-based intervention group generally produced larger effects than the self-direct mindfulness-based intervention group. They also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of emotion regulation and the lower the levels of anxiety and depression and that the higher the levels of emotion regulation the lower the levels of anxiety and depression.

 

Previous research using face-to-face mindfulness training has demonstrated that mindfulness improves emotion regulation, anxiety and depression. The contribution of the present study is demonstrating that similar benefits can be produced by online mindfulness training, especially when group discussion is included. The group discussions are generally included in the face-to-face mindfulness trainings including Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). So, it would appear that being able to share and discuss experiences with other participants is important in producing maximum benefits of the trainings but it doesn’t matter if they occur face-to-face or online.

 

So, reduce psychological distress and improve emotion regulation with online mindfulness training.

 

both face-to-face and internet-based mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) reduced psychological distress compared with usual care.” – Matthew Stenger

 

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

 

Ma Y, She Z, Siu AF-Y, Zeng X and Liu X (2018) Effectiveness of Online Mindfulness-Based Interventions on Psychological Distress and the Mediating Role of Emotion Regulation. Front. Psychol. 9:2090. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02090

 

Online mindfulness-based intervention as a feasible and acceptable approach has received mounting attention in recent years, yet more evidence is needed to demonstrate its effectiveness. The primary objective of this study was to examine the effects of online mindfulness-based programs on psychological distress (depression and anxiety). The randomized controlled intervention design consisted of four conditions: group mindfulness-based intervention (GMBI), self-direct mindfulness-based intervention (SDMBI), discussion group (DG) and blank control group (BCG). The program lasted 8 weeks and a total of 76 participants completed the pre- and post-test. Results showed that participants in GMBI and SDMBI had significant pre- and post-test differences on mindfulness, emotion regulation difficulties, and psychological distress, with medium to large effect sizes. In addition, ANCOVA results indicated significant effects of group membership on post-test scores of mindfulness, depression and anxiety when controlling the pretest scores, with medium to large effect sizes. The GMBI appeared to exert the greatest effects on outcome variables in comparison with other groups. In addition, changes in emotion regulation difficulties across groups could mediate the relationship between changes in mindfulness dimensions (Observing and Describing) and changes in psychological distress across groups. These results provided encouraging evidence for the effectiveness of online mindfulness-based interventions in reducing psychological distress, and the possible mediating role of emotion regulation, while also underlining the importance of group discussion in online mindfulness-based interventions.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02090/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_820262_69_Psycho_20181108_arts_A

 

 

Mood and Anxiety Disorders are Not Improved by Yoga Practice

Mood and Anxiety Disorders are Not Improved by Yoga Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Many in the medical community have had a bias toward medication, because until recently that’s what was most well studied. But attitudes are changing. Some of my patients struggle with anxiety, but I rarely prescribe medications. I feel more comfortable prescribing holistic modalities like yoga.” – Jennifer Griffin

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, or 18% of the population. A characterizing feature of anxiety disorders is that the suffer overly identifies with and personalizes their thoughts. The sufferer has recurring thoughts, such as impending disaster, that they may realize are unreasonable, but are unable to shake. Indeed, Mindfulness practices have been shown to be quite effective in relieving anxiety. Clinically diagnosed depression affects over 6% of the population. Depression can be difficult to treat. Fortunately, Mindfulness training is also effective for treating depression.

 

Anxiety disorders and clinical depression have generally been treated with drugs. But, there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. There are a number of psychological therapies for anxiety. But, about 45% of the patients treated do not respond to the therapy. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders and for depression either alone or in combination with other therapies. Yoga practice is a mindfulness training and has the added benefit of being an exercise which has been also found to be effective for anxiety and depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “Hatha yoga for acute, chronic and/or treatment-resistant mood and anxiety 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/PMC6166972/ ), Vollbehr and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research literature on the effectiveness of yoga practice for chronic clinical anxiety and depression disorders. They found 18 randomized controlled trials of yoga interventions in adult clinical samples with mood and anxiety disorders.

 

They looked only at carefully controlled research studies and did not find significantly greater improvements in either anxiety or depression after yoga practice in comparison to active control conditions. So, although yoga practice has been shown to have a multitude of benefits for health and ill individuals, the published research does not support the use of yoga practice over treatment as usual for chronic clinical depression and anxiety disorders.

 

Multiple studies now confirm what countless yoga practitioners have found: Whether we’re dealing with acute stress like childbirth or struggling with longer-term stress and anxiety, yoga can be a powerful tool to calm our nervous systems.” – Seth Gillihan

 

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

 

Vollbehr, N. K., Bartels-Velthuis, A. A., Nauta, M. H., Castelein, S., Steenhuis, L. A., Hoenders, H., & Ostafin, B. D. (2018). Hatha yoga for acute, chronic and/or treatment-resistant mood and anxiety disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PloS one, 13(10), e0204925. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0204925

 

Abstract

Background

The aim of this study was to systematically investigate the effectiveness of hatha yoga in treating acute, chronic and/or treatment-resistant mood and anxiety disorders.

Methods

Medline, Cochrane Library, Current Controlled Trials, Clinical Trials.gov, NHR Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, PsycINFO and CINAHL were searched through June 2018. Randomized controlled trials with patients with mood and anxiety disorders were included. Main outcomes were continuous measures of severity of mood and anxiety symptoms. Cohen’s d was calculated as a measure of effect size. Meta-analyses using a random effects model was applied to estimate direct comparisons between yoga and control conditions for depression and anxiety outcomes. Publication bias was visually inspected using funnel plots.

Results

Eighteen studies were found, fourteen in acute patients and four in chronic patients. Most studies were of low quality. For depression outcomes, hatha yoga did not show a significant effect when compared to treatment as usual, an overall effect size of Cohen’s d -0.64 (95% CI = -1.41, 0.13) or to all active control groups, Cohen’s d -0.13 (95% CI = -0.49, 0.22). A sub-analysis showed that yoga had a significant effect on the reduction of depression compared to psychoeducation control groups, Cohen’s d -0.52 (95% CI = -0.96, -0.08) but not to other active control groups, Cohen’s d 0.28 (95% CI = -0.07, 0.63) For studies using a follow-up of six months or more, hatha yoga had no effect on the reduction of depression compared to active control groups, Cohen’s d -0.14 (95% CI = -0.60, 0.33). Regarding anxiety, hatha yoga had no significant effect when compared to active control groups, Cohen’s d -0.09 (95% CI = -0.47, 0.30). The I2and Q-statistic revealed heterogeneity amongst comparisons. Qualitative analyses suggest some promise of hatha yoga for chronic populations.

Conclusions

The ability to draw firm conclusions is limited by the notable heterogeneity and low quality of most of the included studies. With this caveat in mind, the results of the current meta-analysis suggest that hatha yoga does not have effects on acute, chronic and/or treatment-resistant mood and anxiety disorders compared to treatment as usual or active control groups. However, when compared to psychoeducation, hatha yoga showed more reductions in depression. It is clear that more high-quality studies are needed to advance the field.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6166972/

 

Improve Anxiety Disorders with Mindfulness

Improve Anxiety Disorders with Mindfulness

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“it’s clear that mindfulness allows us to interrupt automatic, reflexive fight, flight, or freeze reactions—reactions that can lead to anxiety, fear, foreboding, and worry.” – Bob Stahl

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, or 18% of the population. A characterizing feature of anxiety disorders is that the suffer overly identifies with and personalizes their thoughts. The sufferer has recurring thoughts, such as impending disaster, that they may realize are unreasonable, but are unable to shake. This may indicate that treating the cognitive processes that underlie the anxiety may be an effective treatment. Indeed, Mindfulness practices have been shown to be quite effective in relieving anxiety.

 

Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. But, there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. There are a number of psychological therapies for anxiety. But, about 45% of the patients treated do not respond to the therapy. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disordersMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was developed to treat depression but has been found to also be effective for other mood disorders. MBCT involves mindfulness training, containing sitting and walking meditation and body scan, and cognitive therapy to alter how the patient relates to the thought processes that often underlie and exacerbate mood disorders. MBCT has been found to help relieve anxiety.

 

Although the ability of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) to relieve anxiety is well established in western populations, there is less research employing oriental populations. In today’s Research News article “Feasibility study of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for anxiety disorders in a Japanese setting.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6127937/ ), Sado and colleagues recruited Japanese participants who were diagnosed with either panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, or generalized anxiety disorder. They were provided with an 8-week program of MBCT. The participants met in groups for 2 hours, once a week, and were asked to practice at home. They were measured before, during, and after training and 4 and 8 weeks later for mindfulness, anxiety, depression, psychological distress, health status, quality of life, agoraphobia, and social anxiety disorder.

 

They found that after treatment there were significant increases in mindfulness and decreases in anxiety and agoraphobia that were maintained 8 weeks after the end of treatment. There was also a significant improvement in psychological distress after treatment, but this was not maintained at follow-up. These results are similar to those observed in western populations. So, it appears that MBCT is similarly effective in eastern (Japanese) anxiety disorder sufferers. This suggests that MBCT is a safe and effective treatment for anxiety disorders in a wide range of patients, races, and cultures.

 

So, improve anxiety disorders with mindfulness.

 

“A review of 47 studies showed a 5 percent to 10 percent reduction in anxiety symptoms and a 10 percent to 20 percent improvement in depression in individuals who meditated.” – Nicole Ostrow

 

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

 

Sado, M., Park, S., Ninomiya, A., Sato, Y., Fujisawa, D., Shirahase, J., & Mimura, M. (2018). Feasibility study of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for anxiety disorders in a Japanese setting. BMC Research Notes, 11, 653. http://doi.org/10.1186/s13104-018-3744-4

 

Abstract

Objective

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) could be a treatment option for anxiety disorders. Although its effectiveness under conditions of low pharmacotherapy rates has been demonstrated, its effectiveness under condition of high pharmacotherapy rate is still unknown. The aim of the study was to evaluate effectiveness of MBCT under the context of high pharmacotherapy rates.

Results

A single arm with pre-post comparison design was adopted. Those who had any diagnosis of anxiety disorders, between the ages of 20 and 74, were included. Participants attended 8 weekly 2-hour-long sessions followed by 2 monthly boosters. Evaluation was conducted at baseline, in the middle, at end of the intervention, and at follow-up. The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI)-state was set as the primary outcome. Pre-post analyses with mixed-effect models repeated measures were conducted. Fourteen patients were involved. The mean age was 45.0, and 71.4% were female. The mean change in the STAI-state at every point showed statistically significant improvement. The STAI-trait also showed improvement at a high significance level from the very early stages. The participants showed significant improvement at least one point in some other secondary outcomes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6127937/

 

Mindfulness Promotes Health and Well-Being in Stressed College Students

Mindfulness Promotes Health and Well-Being in Stressed College Students

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Student life can be stressful, but that doesn’t mean students have to let stress take over their lives. By incorporating mindfulness and meditation into daily routines, students can not only relieve the pressure, but also improve their memory, focus and ultimately their grades.“ – Todd Braver

 

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. This is particularly true in highly rated, elite, universities. This stress might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s physical and mental health, well-being, and school performance.

 

It is, for the most part, beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress, so it is important that methods be found to reduce the college students’ responses to stress; to make them more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices including meditationmindfulness training, and yoga practice have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Indeed, these practices have been found to reduce stress and improve psychological health in college students. So, it would seem important to examine various techniques to relieve the stress and its consequent symptoms in college students.

 

In today’s Research News article “There Is No Performance, There Is Just This Moment: The Role of Mindfulness Instruction in Promoting Health and Well-Being Among Students at a Highly-Ranked University in the United States.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871302/ ), Kerrigan and colleagues recruited college students from an elite university and provided them with an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The program was specifically developed to improve coping with stress and consisted of weekly 2.5-hour group training sessions with home practice and included meditation, body scan, yoga practices, and discussion. They were interviewed before and after training on “personal goals, priorities, and background; current and past stressors and coping strategies; motivations to participate in the program; experiences with the program; barriers to attendance and practice of program techniques; and impact and future use of the MBSR tools and methods.”

 

The students described the high pressure, stressful, competitive environment of the university, their challenging schedules of academic studies, extracurricular activities, and volunteer work, and family pressure to succeed. About half of the participants reported chronic health conditions as a result of the stress. Reducing this stress was their primary motivation for participating in the MBSR program. They described the MBSR program as cultivating mindfulness, attention to the present moment and non-judgement. Non-judgement was particularly important as it stood in stark contrast to the competitive environment of the university. They also indicated that the program allowed them to step back and reframe their current existence and their lives. They described the benefits that they obtained from the MBSR program of reducing stress and anxiety and improving coping skills. They also reported improved relationships and academic performance.

 

These qualitative results suggest that participation in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program was of great benefit to these stressed college students, reducing their responses to stress and their self-judgement, and improving their mindfulness, productivity and overall well-being. These results mirror those seen with controlled quantitative studies. This suggests that participation in an MBSR program should be recommended for college students.

 

So, promote health and well-being in stressed college students with mindfulness.

 

“a mindfulness intervention can help reduce distress levels in college students during a stressful exam week, as well as increase altruistic action in the form of donating to charity.” – Julia Galante

 

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

Kerrigan, D., Chau, V., King, M., Holman, E., Joffe, A., & Sibinga, E. (2017). There Is No Performance, There Is Just This Moment: The Role of Mindfulness Instruction in Promoting Health and Well-Being Among Students at a Highly-Ranked University in the United States. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 22(4), 909–918. http://doi.org/10.1177/2156587217719787

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) has been shown to improve health outcomes across populations. We explored the feasibility, acceptability, and initial effects of a pilot MBSR program at a highly-ranked university in the United States. We conducted 23 in-depth interviews with 13 students. Interviews explored stressors and coping mechanisms, experiences with MBSR, and its reported impact and potential future use. Interviews were analyzed using thematic content and narrative analyses. Results indicated that students are exposed to a very high level of constant stress related to the sheer amount of work and activities that they have and the pervasive surrounding university culture of perfectionism. MBSR offered an opportunity to step back and gain perspective on issues of balance and priorities and provided concrete techniques to counter the effects of stressors. We conclude that MBSR and mindfulness programs may contribute to more supportive university learning environments and greater health and well-being among students.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871302/