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

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

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Abstract

Objectives

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

Methods

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

Results

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

Conclusions

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

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

 

Emotionally Touching Moments of Wonderous Awe Promotes Wellbeing

Emotionally Touching Moments of Wonderous Awe Promotes Wellbeing

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

And if a person is religious, I think it’s good, it helps you a bit. But if you’re not, at least you can have the sense that there is a condition inside you which looks at the stars with amazement and awe.” Maya Angelou

 

Religion and spirituality have been promulgated as solutions to the challenges of life. There have been a number of studies of the influence of religiosity and spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth, well-being, and mental health. Spirituality can also promote the occurrence of wondering awe which are emotional reactions to touching experiences. Wondering awe can induce internal changes in the individual. So, it is important to examine the relationships of wondering awe, spirituality, and well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “Wondering Awe as a Perceptive Aspect of Spirituality and Its Relation to Indicators of Wellbeing: Frequency of Perception and Underlying Triggers.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.738770/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1750137_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211012_arts_A ) Büssing and colleagues recruited adult participants online and had them complete measures of Awe and Gratitude, spiritual experiences, well-being, and frequency of meditation and prayer. A separate group of participants wrote descriptions of situations where they experienced moments of wondering awe.

 

They found that women had significantly more experiences of awe than the men and older participants had more than younger participants. Christians had higher scores than non-religious participants but less than other denominations. They also found that the greater the frequency of awe the higher the well-being of the participants and the greater experiences of the sacred in daily life. The participants with the highest frequencies of awe were older, had the greater frequencies of spiritual practices, and the highest well-being and were more likely to meditate than pray. The descriptions of experiences of awe and gratitude were used to identify the triggers that elicited the experiences, and these were nature, persons, unique moments, and aesthetics, beauty, and devotion.

 

These findings are correlative. So, no conclusions about causation can be definitively reached. But it is clear that these experiences of wonderous awe and gratitude most often occur in women, older individuals, and those with religious orientations and they were associated with the individual’s well-being and experiences of the sacred. They were most often triggered by environmental conditions.

 

It is important to study these emotionally touching moments of awe and gratitude as they are associated with inner change in the individual. They can trigger new attitudes, insights, and behaviors. Importantly, they are associated with the person’s overall well-being. Future research might attempt to trigger more experiences of wonderous awe by immersing participants in the situations that tend to elicit awe and gratitude and examine their impact on the individual’s health, well-being, and spirituality.

 

So, emotionally touching moments of wonderous awe promotes wellbeing.

 

We can all experience feelings of awe as we ponder how everything that we witness is created and aligned in such a way that our lives unfold the way they do.” – K. Barrett

 

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

 

Büssing A (2021) Wondering Awe as a Perceptive Aspect of Spirituality and Its Relation to Indicators of Wellbeing: Frequency of Perception and Underlying Triggers. Front. Psychol. 12:738770. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.738770

 

Background: Spirituality is a multidimensional construct which includes religious, existentialistic, and relational issues and has different layers such as faith as the core, related attitudes and conviction, and subsequent behaviors and practices. The perceptive aspects of spirituality such as wondering awe are of relevance for both, religious and non-religious persons. These perceptions were related to perceiving the Sacred in life, mindful awareness of nature, others and self, to compassion, meaning in life, and emotional wellbeing. As awe perceptions are foremost a matter of state, it was the aim (1) to empirically analyze the frequency of wondering awe perceptions (i.e., with respect to gender, age cohorts, religious or non-religious persons) and (2) to qualitatively analyze a range of triggers of awe perceptions.

Methods: Data from 7,928 participants were analyzed with respect to the frequency of Awe/Gratitude perceptions (GrAw-7 scale), while for the second part of the study responses of a heterogeneous group of 82 persons what caused them to perceive moments of wondering awe were analyzed with qualitative content analysis techniques.

Results: Persons who experience Awe/Gratitude to a low extend were the youngest and had lowest wellbeing and lowest meditation/praying engagement, while those with high GrAw-7 scores were the oldest, had the highest wellbeing, and were more often meditating or praying (p<0.001). Gender had a significant effect on these perceptions, too (Cohen’s d=0.32). In the qualitative part, the triggers can be attributed to four main categories, Nature, Persons, Unique Moments, and Aesthetics, Beauty, and Devotion. Some of these triggers and related perceptions might be more a matter of admiration than wondering awe, while other perceptions could have more profound effects and may thus result in changes of a person’s attitudes and behaviors.

Conclusion: Emotionally touching experiences of wondering awe may result in feelings of interconnectedness, prosocial behavior, mindful awareness, and contribute to a person’s meaning in life and wellbeing and can also be a health-relevant resource. These perceptions can be seen as a perceptive aspect of spirituality, which is not exclusively experienced by religious people but also by non-religious persons.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.738770/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1750137_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211012_arts_A

 

Improve the Psychological Health of Obstetrics and Gynecology Patients during Covid-19 with a Mindfulness App

The COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy — what women need to know | Keck School  of Medicine of USC

Improve the Psychological Health of Obstetrics and Gynecology Patients during Covid-19 with a Mindfulness App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness meditation might be a viable low-cost intervention to mitigate the psychological impact of the COVID-19 crisis and future pandemics.” – Julie Lei Zhu

 

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 Covid-19 pandemic is extremely stressful particularly for patients who are pregnant or awaiting surgery. This training has been shown to improve the well-being of a wide variety of individuals. So, it should be helpful with these patients.

 

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, apps for smartphones have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. These should be particularly useful during the Covid-19 pandemic as attending in-person therapy sessions may not be safe or practicable. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of these apps in inducing mindfulness and reducing stress and improving psychological well-being in real-world medical patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Effects in Obstetric and Gynecology Patients During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8132566/ ) Smith and colleagues recruited adult

obstetrics and gynecology patients who were either pregnant or awaiting gynecological surgery delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They were randomly assigned to receive either standard care or to practice mindfulness for 10 minutes per day for 30 days with a commercially available smartphone app “Calm”. They were measured before training, at 14 days into training, and after training for perceived stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbance.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the usual care control group, the group that practiced mindfulness with the “Calm” app had significantly lower levels of perceived stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbance at 14 days and 30 days. The mindfulness group also reported lower levels of perceived stress due to Covid-19 and less worry about infections in their families. A high degree of satisfaction with the “Calm” app was reported.

 

Covid-19 has affected the psychological health of virtually everyone and past research has shown that mindfulness improves their psychological health. The present study demonstrates that this occurs in pregnant women and women awaiting gynecological surgery. An important aspect of the present study was the use of a smartphone app to do the mindfulness training. These apps are particularly useful during the Covid-19 pandemic as attending in-person therapy sessions may not be safe or practicable. This allows for mindfulness training with its benefits for the well-being of the patients to occur even in the midst of a pandemic.

 

So, improve the psychological health of obstetrics and gynecology patients during covid-19 with a mindfulness app.

 

Mindfulness can help us acknowledge this situation, without allowing us to be carried away with strong emotions; it can, in turn, help bring ourselves back to a centered calm. Only then can we see more clearly what it is we have control over and what it is that we do not.“ – Michigan Medicine

 

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

 

Smith, R. B., Mahnert, N. D., Foote, J., Saunders, K. T., Mourad, J., & Huberty, J. (2021). Mindfulness Effects in Obstetric and Gynecology Patients During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Obstetrics and gynecology, 137(6), 1032–1040. https://doi.org/10.1097/AOG.0000000000004316

 

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To assess the effect of a consumer-based mobile meditation application (app) on wellness in outpatient obstetric and gynecology patients during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

METHODS:

We conducted a randomized controlled trial at a university outpatient clinic of obstetric and gynecology patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Women were randomly assigned to the intervention group, who was prescribed a mobile meditation app for 30 days, or the control group, which received standard care. The primary outcome was self-reported perceived stress. Secondary outcomes included self-reported depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and satisfaction with the meditation app. A sample size of 80 participants (40 per group) was calculated to achieve 84% power to detect a 3-point difference in the primary outcome.

RESULTS:

From April to May 2020, 101 women were randomized in the study—50 in the meditation app group and 51 in the control group. Analysis was by intention-to-treat. Most characteristics were similar between groups. Perceived stress was significantly less in the intervention group at days 14 and 30 (mean difference 4.27, 95% CI 1.30–7.24, P=.005, d=0.69 and mean difference 4.28, 95% CI 1.68–6.88, P=.002, d=0.69, respectively). Self-reported depression and anxiety were significantly less in the intervention group at days 14 and 30 (depression: P=.002 and P=.04; anxiety: P=.01, and P=.04, respectively). Sleep disturbance was significantly less in the intervention group at days 14 and 30 (P=.001 and P=.02, respectively). More than 80% of those in the intervention group reported high satisfaction with the meditation app, and 93% reported that mindfulness meditation improved their stress.

CONCLUSION:

Outpatient obstetric and gynecology patients who used the prescribed consumer-based mobile meditation app during the COVID-19 pandemic had significant reductions in perceived stress, depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance compared with standard care.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8132566/

Decrease Burnout in Parents During Covid-19 Lockdown with Mindfulness

Decrease Burnout in Parents During Covid-19 Lockdown with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness can lower stress and anxiety, help with sleep and increase wellbeing. There are also specific benefits of mindfulness for anyone providing care to others.” – Naomi Stoll

 

Parenting can be difficult in the best of times but within a pandemic induced lockdown the pressures on the parents are substantially increased. Burnout can result from the continuing stress. Being mindful or engaging in mindfulness practices can be helpful in coping with the physical and psychological manifestations of stress.  In addition mindfulness can help build empathyself-compassionpatience, and flexibility that are so important for parenting, resilience to withstand the stresses, and the ability to effectively cope with the strong emotions. Indeed, Mindfulness practices has been shown to help parents cope with the physical and psychological demands of parenting.

 

In today’s Research News article “Self-Compassion and Rumination Type Mediate the Relation between Mindfulness and Parental Burnout.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8393602/ ) Paucsik and colleagues recruited online parents with children during the Covid-19 lockdown. They completed measures twice, separated by a month, of mindfulness practice, mindfulness, self-compassion, rumination, and parental burnout.

 

They found that at time 1 and 2 the higher the levels of parental mindfulness the higher the level of self-compassion and the lower the levels of burnout and rumination and the higher the levels of self-compassion the lower the levels of burnout and rumination. They further show that the higher the levels of mindfulness and self-compassion at time 1 the lower the levels of burnout at time 2 and the higher the levels of rumination at time 1 the higher the levels of burnout at time 2. Mindfulness at time 1 was found to be both directly associated with lower burnout at time 2 and also indirectly by being associated with higher self-compassion and lower ruminations at time 1 which were in turn associated with lower burnout.

 

These results are correlative and as such causation cannot be determined. But past research has demonstrated causal connections between mindfulness and burnout and self-compassion and burnout. So, the current results likely occurred also due to causal connections. Preventing the stress of the Covid-19 lockdown from debilitating parenting and producing burnout is highly important. The present study suggests that mindfulness and self-compassion can perform that role. This further suggests that mindfulness and self-compassion training would be helpful to parents in general and especially helpful during times of stress on the family.

 

So, decrease burnout in parents during Covid-19 lockdown with mindfulness.

 

Practicing mindfulness is a way to focus on the present, rather than worrying about the past or the future. This is especially important when you’re spending a lot of your time in a caregiving role—you need time to relax your mind and your body.” – Karen Gagliatre

 

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

 

Paucsik, M., Urbanowicz, A., Leys, C., Kotsou, I., Baeyens, C., & Shankland, R. (2021). Self-Compassion and Rumination Type Mediate the Relation between Mindfulness and Parental Burnout. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(16), 8811. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168811

 

Abstract

The COVID-19 lockdown increased the day-to-day challenges faced by parents, and thereby may have increased parental burnout risk. Therefore, identifying parental burnout protection factors is essential. This study aimed to assess the protective role of the following factors which can be increased through mindfulness practice: trait mindfulness, self-compassion, and concrete vs. abstract ruminations. A total of 459 parents (Mage = 40; 98.7% female) completed self-reported questionnaires at two-time points to assess the predictive role of mindfulness on parental burnout, self-compassion and rumination type, and the mediating role of self-compassion and rumination type in the relation between mindfulness and parental burnout. Results showed that trait mindfulness, self-compassion, and rumination type at Time 1 predicted levels of parental burnout at Time 2. Self-compassion (indirect effects: b = − 22, 95% CI = [−38, −05], p < 0.01), concrete ruminations (indirect effects: b = −20, 95% CI = [−32, −09], p < 0.001), and abstract ruminations (indirect effects: b = −0.54, 95% CI = [−71, −37], p < 0.001) partially mediated the relation between trait-mindfulness and parental burnout. These findings showed that trait mindfulness, self-compassion, and concrete (vs. abstract) ruminations may help prevent parental burnout in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. These results contribute to the field of research on parental burnout prevention and will allow for the development of effective approaches to mental health promotion in parents.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8393602/

Decrease Burnout in Healthcare Workers During Covid-19 with Mindfulness

Decrease Burnout in Healthcare Workers During Covid-19 with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Healthcare professionals have been going above and beyond in order to safeguard everyone’s health and well-being during the coronavirus pandemic. Many have been stretched to capacity—and it’s not as if all the pre-COVID pressures have magically disappeared. Mindfulness can help healthcare professionals look after themselves and their colleagues during this time and beyond.” – Mindful

 

For healthcare professionals the Covid-19 pandemic has produced a number of difficult issues that may be helped by mindfulness practice. Being mindful or engaging in mindfulness practices can be helpful in coping with the physical and psychological manifestations of stress produced by long hours of working with very sick people with a highly infectious disease, the depression resulting from separation from family and loved ones, the post-traumatic stress disorder that can be produced by repeated exposure to suffering and death, and burnout that can result from the overwhelming quantity and seriousness of the symptoms. In addition mindfulness can help build empathycompassionpatience, and flexibility that are so important for the treatment of the patients, resilience to withstand the stresses, and the ability to effectively cope with the strong emotions produced.

 

In today’s Research News article “Synchronous Mindfulness in Motion Online: Strong Results, Strong Attendance at a Critical Time for Health Care Professionals (HCPs) in the COVID Era.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.725810/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1709299_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210824_arts_A ) Klatt and colleagues recruited healthcare professionals and delivered to them a mindfulness training program, Mindfulness in Motion (MIM), either in person or over the internet and before the Covid-19 Pandemic or after. They were measured before and after training for resilience, perceived stress, work engagement, and burnout, including subscales of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment.

 

They found that after the mindfulness training there were significant reductions in burnout and perceived stress, and significant increases in resilience and work engagement regardless of whether it was delivered before or after the Covid-19 Pandemic. After Covid there were significantly higher levels of emotional exhaustion, but the mindfulness training produced significantly greater reductions in emotional exhaustion and perceived stress. There were no significant differences between the effects of the training delivered virtually over the internet or in person.

 

These results demonstrate that mindfulness training improves the psychological health of healthcare workers regardless of whether it’s delivered in person or over the internet or whether it was delivered before or after the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Although there weren’t control comparison conditions present, prior controlled research has demonstrated that mindfulness training produces significant decreases in burnout and perceived stress and increases in resilience and work engagement. So, the present results likely are due to the mindfulness training program.

 

These are important findings as healthcare workers, particularly during the Covid-19 Pandemic are under severe stress which makes burnout likely. In addition, these workers have little available time for training, so being able to deliver the program over the internet makes it more readily available. Hence, mindfulness training appears to be able to buffer the healthcare professionals from burnout and improve their psychological well-being even during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

 

So, decrease burnout in healthcare workers during Covid-19 with mindfulness.

 

There is no doubt that the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic is causing a high level of stress and distress, particularly among health care workers due to our unique role in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. During a pandemic like this, our capacity to stay calm, present, and compassionate is more important than ever.” – Dzung Vo

 

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

 

Klatt M, Bawa R, Gabram O, Westrick A and Blake A (2021) Synchronous Mindfulness in Motion Online: Strong Results, Strong Attendance at a Critical Time for Health Care Professionals (HCPs) in the COVID Era. Front. Psychol. 12:725810. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.725810

 

Mindfulness in Motion (MIM) is an organizationally-sponsored mindfulness program for employees at a large academic health center that consistently produces significant reductions in burnout and perceived stress, alongside significant increases in work engagement and resilience. This study compared outcome measures of a synchronous virtual delivery of MIM, necessitated by COVID-19, to traditional in-person delivery of MIM. Outcome measures from the virtual COVID (AU20, WI21, SP21) MIM cohorts (n = 99) were compared with the in-person Pre-COVID (SP19, AU19, WI20) MIM cohorts (n = 124). Both Pre-COVID and COVID cohorts had similar attendance rates with an average attendance of 84 and 80%, respectively. Qualitative analysis of COVID cohorts reported community support during COVID as a substantial intervention benefit, which was important at a time when isolation dominated the healthcare professional experience. Total burnout was determined by scores on the subscales of the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). There were no significant differences in depersonalization (p = 0.3876) and personal accomplishment (p = 0.1519) changes between Pre-COVID and COVID cohorts, however there was a significant difference in emotional exhaustion (p = 0.0315), with COVID cohorts improving more. In both Pre, and COVID cohorts, the percentage of people meeting burnout criteria from pre to post between groups were similar, yielding a non-significant difference (p = 0.2950). The Connor Davidson Resiliency Scale (CDRS) and Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES) also produced no significant differences between groups (p = 0.4259, p = 0.1984, respectively). The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) though yielded significant differences in reduction between groups (p = 0.0405), again with COVID cohorts showing greater improvement. Results of the first synchronous, virtually delivered MIM cohorts reflect that participants achieved very similar results and that MIM created a community in a time when it was greatly needed due to pandemic healthcare professional stress.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.725810/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1709299_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210824_arts_A

 

Yoga Practitioners Cope Better with the Stress and Psychological Distress During Covid-19 Pandemic

Yoga Practitioners Cope Better with the Stress and Psychological Distress During Covid-19 Pandemic

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“As the lockdown cannot last forever and workplaces will have to be functional soon, there is an increased possibility of recurrent infection. Therefore, Yoga can provide the necessary tool for risk reduction, amelioration of stress and anxiety and strengthening of the immune function.” – Kanupriya Sharma 

 

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

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga Practice Is Beneficial for Maintaining Healthy Lifestyle and Endurance Under Restrictions and Stress Imposed by Lockdown During COVID-19 Pandemic.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8257944/ ) Nagarathna and colleagues recruited adult (>18 years of age) participants in India online during the Covid-19 lockdown and had them complete a questionnaire measuring demographics, Covid-19 exposure, physical health, mental health, coping strategies, lifestyle, and physical activities.

 

They defined a yoga group as those participants who practiced yoga before and during the Covid-19 lockdown and the non-yoga group as those who did not. They report that the yoga group had a significantly greater proportion of females and students, were younger, were less likely to use alcohol, tobacco, or other substances and eat junk food, more likely to be vegetarian, were disciplined in their diet, and had greater sleep quality, physical strength and endurance, and energy, have lower levels of anxiety and fear, but did not differ in Covid-19 exposure. In addition, the yoga group indicated more adaptive coping strategies.

 

This study was a comparison between groups defined by whether they were yoga practitioners or not. Any observed differences could well be due to the types of people attracted to yoga practice versus those who are not. It cannot be concluded that the practice of yoga was responsible for the differences. But prior research has demonstrated in controlled trials that the practice of yoga produces many physical and psychological benefits. So, the differences observed here may well be due to causal effects of yoga practice. Regardless of causation, the results clearly show that during the Covid-19 lockdown, yoga practitioners have greater physical and mental well-being and have healthier lifestyles.

 

So, yoga practitioners cope better with the stress and psychological distress during Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Yoga can be a powerful tool to deal with the lockdown’s uncertainty and isolation, as well as to maintain physical well-being.” – United Nations

 

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

Nagarathna, R., Anand, A., Rain, M., Srivastava, V., Sivapuram, M. S., Kulkarni, R., Ilavarasu, J., Sharma, M., Singh, A., & Nagendra, H. R. (2021). Yoga Practice Is Beneficial for Maintaining Healthy Lifestyle and Endurance Under Restrictions and Stress Imposed by Lockdown During COVID-19 Pandemic. Frontiers in psychiatry, 12, 613762. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.613762

 

Abstract

Uncertainty about Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and resulting lockdown caused widespread panic, stress, and anxiety. Yoga is a known practice that reduces stress and anxiety and may enhance immunity. This study aimed to (1) investigate that including Yoga in daily routine is beneficial for physical and mental health, and (2) to evaluate lifestyle of Yoga practitioners that may be instrumental in coping with stress associated with lockdown. This is a pan-India cross-sectional survey study, which was conducted during the lockdown. A self-rated scale, COVID Health Assessment Scale (CHAS), was designed by 11 experts in 3 Delphi rounds (Content valid ratio = 0.85) to evaluate the physical health, mental health, lifestyle, and coping skills of the individuals. The survey was made available digitally using Google forms and collected 23,760 CHAS responses. There were 23,290 valid responses (98%). After the study’s inclusion and exclusion criteria of yogic practices, the respondents were categorized into the Yoga (n = 9,840) and Non-Yoga (n = 3,377) groups, who actively practiced Yoga during the lockdown in India. The statistical analyses were performed running logistic and multinomial regression and calculating odds ratio estimation using R software version 4.0.0. The non-Yoga group was more likely to use substances and unhealthy food and less likely to have good quality sleep. Yoga practitioners reported good physical ability and endurance. Yoga group also showed less anxiety, stress, fear, and having better coping strategies than the non-Yoga group. The Yoga group displayed striking and superior ability to cope with stress and anxiety associated with lockdown and COVID-19. In the Yoga group, participants performing meditation reportedly had relatively better mental health. Yoga may lead to risk reduction of COVID-19 by decreasing stress and improving immunity if specific yoga protocols are implemented through a global public health initiative.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8257944/

 

Spirituality Modifies Coping with Covid-19 Evoked Psychological Distress

Spirituality Modifies Coping with Covid-19 Evoked Psychological Distress

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“COVID-19 . . . patients are suffering greatly from spiritual distress as well: existential distress, struggles with uncertainty, despair, hopelessness, isolation, feelings of abandonment by God or others, grief, and the need for reconciliation.” – GW School of Medicine

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the mental and physical health of the population. It has created intense stress for frontline workers but also for people simply isolating at home. Religion and spirituality have been promulgated as solutions to the challenges of life. There have been a number of studies of the influence of religiosity and spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health. Perhaps, then, spirituality can be helpful in relieving stress and improve coping with the mental and physical challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

In today’s Research News article “Coping with COVID-19: An Examination of the Role of (Non)Religiousness/(Non)Spirituality.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8140577/ ) Abbott and Franks recruited adults over the internet and had them complete measures of coping strategies, psychological distress (anxiety, depression, and perceived stress), religiousness, spirituality, and pandemic related trauma.

 

They found that the higher the levels of pandemic related trauma and dysfunctional coping, the higher the levels of psychological distress experienced by the participants. Trauma was found to be both directly and indirectly associated with psychological distress via dysfunctional coping. This was true for religious, non-religious, and high and moderate spirituality participants but not for low spirituality participants.

 

These results are correlational and as such caution must be exercised in forming conclusions regarding causation. But the relationship is clear between the trauma created by the pandemic and psychological distress, people who are traumatized experience high levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. The trauma is also related to dysfunctional coping suggesting that traumatized individual tend to engage in maladaptive coping strategies. Dysfunctional coping involves coping with difficulties by behavioral disengagement, denial, self-distraction, self-blame, substance use and venting and these strategies are associated with heightened levels of trauma. Finally, the analysis suggests that pandemic related trauma is associated with psychological distress directly and also indirectly by being associated with higher levels of dysfunctional coping which in turn is associated with higher levels of distress.

 

These results suggest that religion and spirituality are helpful in coping with trauma produced by the Covid-19 pandemic. But not with those having low levels of spirituality. Spirituality generally implies a feeling or belief in something beyond the physical. Conversely, low spirituality would imply a focus solely on the physical. So, the results suggest that trauma does not affect coping’s effects on psychological distress when there’s a belief that only physical forces are involved. This then suggests that spirituality increases the individual’s attempts to deal with trauma with coping strategies.

 

So, spirituality modifies coping with covid-19 evoked psychological distress.

 

“during a major crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic, we need to make sure that everyone is getting spiritual care.” – Eric Hall

 

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

 

Abbott, D. M., & Franks, A. S. (2021). Coping with COVID-19: An Examination of the Role of (Non)Religiousness/(Non)Spirituality. Journal of religion and health, 60(4), 2395–2410. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-021-01284-9

 

Abstract

Psychological distress and coping strategies employed during collective trauma events may vary for theists and atheists, as well as others along the (non)religious spectrum. The present study explored these differences via data collected from a US-based sample during the COVID-19 pandemic. Statistical models suggested relationships between maladaptive coping and distress for all participants and potential differences in coping and, in turn, distress between participants high and low in institutional religiousness and individual spirituality. Additionally, all participants, though especially nonreligious participants, appeared less able to engage in adaptive emotion-focused coping strategies. Implications for future research are provided.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8140577/

 

Better Mental Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic is Associated with Exercise and Meditation

Better Mental Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic is Associated with Exercise and Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Introducing a mindfulness and meditation practice during this pandemic has the potential to complement treatment and is a low-cost beneficial method of providing support with anxiety for all.” C. Behan

 

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

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Meditation and Physical Activity on the Mental Health Impact of COVID-19-Related Stress and Attention to News Among Mobile App Users in the United States: Cross-sectional Survey.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8045775/ ) Green and colleagues recruited adult participants online who used the meditation app “Calm” and had them complete a questionnaire measuring worry regarding Covid-19, meditation, exercise, and health related behaviors. They also had them complete measures of habits, perceived stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms.

 

There were 8,392 responses. They reported a significant increase in meditation and exercise during Covid-19. But the greater the worry about Covid-19, the lower the levels of meditation and exercise and the greater the levels of perceived stress and PTSD symptoms.  They found that the Covid-19 worry was associated with lower the levels of meditation and exercise and these decreases were in turn associated with higher levels of perceived stress, PTSD symptoms, anxiety and depression. Hence, worry about Covid-19 appears to be detrimental to mental health as a result of decreases meditation and exercise.

 

These results are correlational, and caution must be exercised in concluding causation. In addition, the sample was composed of users of a meditation app and thus the results may not be predictive of the responses of non-meditators. But the associations are clear. Worry about the pandemic is associated with decreases in meditation and exercise which are in turn associated with poorer mental health.

 

This suggests that methods to support continued meditation practice and exercise during the pandemic may be helpful in improving mental health during the pandemic. They may mitigate the detrimental effects of worry about the pandemic. Indeed, previous research has found that mindfulness training improves mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

So, better mental health during the covid-19 pandemic is associated with exercise and meditation.

 

certain meditation, yoga asana (postures), and pranayama (breathing) practices may possibly be effective adjunctive means of treating and/or preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection” – William Bushell

 

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

 

Green, J., Huberty, J., Puzia, M., & Stecher, C. (2021). The Effect of Meditation and Physical Activity on the Mental Health Impact of COVID-19-Related Stress and Attention to News Among Mobile App Users in the United States: Cross-sectional Survey. JMIR mental health, 8(4), e28479. https://doi.org/10.2196/28479

 

Abstract

Background

The COVID-19 pandemic has been declared an international public health emergency, and it may have long-lasting effects on people’s mental health. There is a need to identify effective health behaviors to mitigate the negative mental health impact of COVID-19.

Objective

The objectives of this study were to (1) examine the regional differences in mental health and COVID-19–related worry, attention to news, and stress, in light of the state-level prevalence of COVID-19 cases; (2) estimate the associations between mental health and COVID-19–related worry, attention to news, and stress and health behavior engagement (ie, physical activity, mindfulness meditation); and (3) explore the mediating effect of health behavior engagement on the associations between mental health and COVID-19–related worry, attention to news, and stress.

Methods

A cross-sectional survey was distributed to a sample of US adult paying subscribers to the Calm app (data were collected from April 22 to June 3, 2020). The survey assessed COVID-19–related worry, attention to news, and stress; health behavior engagement; and mental health (ie, perceived stress, posttraumatic stress disorder, and anxiety and depression). Statistical analyses were performed using R software. Differences in COVID-19–related worry, attention to news, and stress and mental health by location were assessed using t tests and chi-square tests. Logistic and ordinary least squares models were used to regress mental health and health behavior on COVID-19–related worry, attention to news, and stress; moreover, causal mediation analysis was used to estimate the significance of the mediation effects.

Results

The median age of the respondents (N=8392) was 47 years (SD 13.8). Participants in the Mid-Atlantic region (New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) reported higher levels of stress, more severe depression symptoms, greater worry about COVID-19, paying more attention to COVID-19–related news, and more stress related to social distancing recommendations than participants living in other regions. The association between worry about COVID-19 and perceived stress was significantly mediated by changes in physical activity (P<.001), strength of meditation habit (P<.001), and stopping meditation (P=.046). The association between worry about COVID-19 and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms was significantly mediated by changes in physical activity (P<.001) and strength of meditation habit (P<.001).

Conclusions

Our findings describe the mental health impact of COVID-19 and outline how continued participation in health behaviors such as physical activity and mindfulness meditation reduce worsening of mental health due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These data have important implications for public health agencies and health organizations to promote the maintenance of health habits to reduce the residual mental health burden of the COVID-19 pandemic.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8045775/

 

Mindfulness Increases Resiliency During a Pandemic

Mindfulness Increases Resiliency During a Pandemic

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“These are trying times, but incorporating mindful practices into your daily routine can help calm anxiety and build healthy coping skills.” – Rae Jacobson

 

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

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Physical Activity and Mindfulness on Resilience and Depression During the First Wave of COVID-19 Pandemic..” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.700742/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1696300_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210803_arts_A ) Antonini and colleagues used emails to recruit adults who were engaged in either exercise or mindfulness practice during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in Switzerland. They had them complete measures of resilience and depression at two different times during the lockdown.

 

They found that mindfulness practitioners had significantly lower resilience than exercisers and that had women had significantly lower resilience and greater depression than men. They also found that the resilience of the mindfulness group significantly increased from the first to the second measurement while the exercisers did not. But the depression of the exercise group significantly declined from the first to the second measurement while the mindfulness group did not. Overall, the higher the levels of resilience the lower the levels of depression at both measurement times.

 

These are interesting results but are correlational, so no conclusions regarding causation can be reached. The results suggest that resilience tends to counteract depression. They also suggest that mindfulness practitioners are initially less resilient during a stressful time than exercisers but that they increase in resilience as the lockdown continues. On the other hand, exercisers decrease in depression over the same period of time.

 

Dealing with a public health emergency lockdown can be extremely stressful and requires resilience in the face of the stress to effectively deal with it. Mindfulness appears to allow for a growth in resilience making the practitioners better able to cope. On the other hand, exercise appears to help with the depression resulting from the lockdown. Unfortunately, they did not look at mindfulness practitioners who were also exercisers to observe if the combination has additive benefits.

 

So, mindfulness increases resiliency during a pandemic.

 

mindfulness meditation might be a viable low-cost intervention to mitigate the psychological impact of the COVID-19 crisis and future pandemics.” – Julie Lei Zhu

 

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

 

Antonini Philippe R, Schwab L and Biasutti M (2021) Effects of Physical Activity and Mindfulness on Resilience and Depression During the First Wave of COVID-19 Pandemic. Front. Psychol. 12:700742. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.700742

 

The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic generated a significant number of stressors that the Swiss population had to deal with. In order to cope with and adapt to such adversity, it is essential to have protective factors that allow for resilience. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of mindfulness and physical activity on depression and resilience during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. A quantitative method was adopted asking participants who were engaged in physical activity or mindfulness to fill a battery of measures of depression and resilience and some demographic questions. The results showed that mindfulness practice strengthened the initial level of resilience of practitioners, suggesting that mindfulness meditation is a tool for coping with adversity during a potentially traumatic event. Conversely, physical activity practitioners maintained a stable resilience score over time, suggesting that exposure to adversity did not disrupt their state of biopsychospiritual homeostasis. Moreover, being physically active decreased the depression score over time. Regarding demographic variables, gender differences were observed in the average scores in the resilience scale and in the Depression Inventory.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.700742/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1696300_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210803_arts_A