Reduce Worry and Rumination and Improve Emotion Regulation Lowering Anxiety and Depression with Mindfulness

Reduce Worry and Rumination and Improve Emotion Regulation Lowering Anxiety and Depression with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The practice of mindfulness teaches us a different way to relate to our thoughts, feelings, and emotions as they arise. It is about learning to approach and acknowledge whatever is happening in the present moment, setting aside our lenses of judgment and just being with whatever is there, rather than avoiding it or needing to fix it.” – Elisha Goldstein

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving the physical and psychological condition of otherwise healthy people and also treating the physical and psychological issues of people with illnesses. This has led to an increasing adoption of mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.

 

Worry (concern about the future) and rumination (repetitive thinking about the past) are associated with mental illness, particularly anxiety and depression. Fortunately, worry and rumination may be interrupted by mindfulness and emotion regulation improved by mindfulness. These may be some of the mechanisms by which mindfulness training improves anxiety and depression. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety in the General Population: The Mediating Roles of Worry, Rumination, Reappraisal and Suppression.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00506/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_934868_69_Psycho_20190314_arts_A ), Parmentier and colleagues examine the ability of mindfulness to improve emotion regulation and reduce worry and rumination and thereby improve anxiety and depression.

 

They recruited adult participants online and had them complete an online survey measuring mindfulness, anxiety, depression, rumination, worry, emotion regulation, and meditation history. They found that meditation practice was not associated with anxiety or depression directly but rather through its positive association with mindfulness which was strongly negatively associated with anxiety and depression. Mindfulness was associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression directly and also indirectly through its association with rumination and worry and the emotion regulation mechanisms of suppression and reappraisal. Mindfulness was associated with lower levels of suppression, rumination, and worry and higher levels of reappraisal. which in turn were associated with anxiety and depression.

 

These findings suggest that meditation practice increases mindfulness and this decreases anxiety and depression. It does so directly and indirectly. Mindfulness reduces the tendency to suppress, prevent, anxiety and depression from arising which allows for full mindful appreciation of these emotions and as a result produces an actual reduction in them. It also decreases worry and rumination that normally heighten anxiety and depression. At the same time mindfulness increases reappraisal, heightening the ability to investigate the causes of anxiety and depression, resulting in their reduction. Worry and rumination were the most powerful mediating factors while suppression and reappraisal were still significant factors but substantially weaker.

 

These results support the conclusion that mindfulness directly decreases anxiety and depression. But mindfulness also acts indirectly by affecting has a number of psychological processes including improving emotion regulation and by decreasing the counterproductive cognitive processes of worry and rumination.

 

So, reduce worry and rumination and improve emotion regulation lowering anxiety and depression with mindfulness.

 

“With mindfulness practice, we can learn how to unhook from rumination and cut ourselves (and others) the slack requisite for increasing clarity and ease of being.” – Mitch Abblett

 

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

 

Parmentier FBR, García-Toro M, García-Campayo J, Yañez AM, Andrés P and Gili M (2019) Mindfulness and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety in the General Population: The Mediating Roles of Worry, Rumination, Reappraisal and Suppression. Front. Psychol. 10:506. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00506

 

The present study examined the effects of mindfulness on depression and anxiety, both direct and indirect through the mediation of four mechanisms of emotional regulation: worry, rumination, reappraisal and suppression. Path analysis was applied to data collected from an international and non-clinical sample of 1151 adults, including both meditators and non-meditators, who completed an online questionnaire battery. Our results show that mindfulness are related to lower levels of depression and anxiety both directly and indirectly. Suppression, reappraisal, worry and rumination all acted as significant mediators of the relationship between mindfulness and depression. A similar picture emerged for the relationship between mindfulness and anxiety, with the difference that suppression was not a mediator. Our data also revealed that the estimated number of hours of mindfulness meditation practice did not affect depression or anxiety directly but did reduce these indirectly by increasing mindfulness. Worry and rumination proved to be the most potent mediating variables. Altogether, our results confirm that emotional regulation plays a significant mediating role between mindfulness and symptoms of depression and anxiety in the general population and suggest that meditation focusing on reducing worry and rumination may be especially useful in reducing the risk of developing clinical depression.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00506/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_934868_69_Psycho_20190314_arts_A

 

Promote Well-Being in Adolescents with Spirituality

Promote Well-Being in Adolescents with Spirituality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Call it faith. Call it spirituality. Call it zealotry. Our consciousness creates the reality that reflects it. If we feel apart, other, afraid, and deadened, we will live in a world that reflects and perpetuates these energies.” – Kelly Brogan

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred. ”Spirituality has been promulgated as a solution to the challenges of life both in a transcendent sense and in a practical sense. The transcendent claims are untestable with the scientific method. But the practical claims are amenable to scientific analysis. There have been a number of studies of the influence of spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health.

 

Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. It is during this time that higher levels of thinking, sometimes called executive function, develops. But adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms.

 

It makes sense, then, to investigate the influence of spirituality on the ability of youths to navigate this difficult time and develop positive qualities and better mental health. In today’s Research News article “A Longitudinal Study of Spirituality, Character Strengths, Subjective Well-Being, and Prosociality in Middle School Adolescents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00377/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_925884_69_Psycho_20190305_arts_A ), Kor and colleagues recruited adolescents aged 13 to 17 years and had them complete scales at baseline and 3 and 14 months later measuring character strength, optimism, spirituality, religiosity, transcendence, devotion, positive and negative emotions, life satisfaction, and prosociality.

 

They found that spirituality in adolescents was composed of spirituality, religiosity, transcendence, and devotion and was relatively stable over the 14-month measurement period. They found that the higher the levels of spirituality, the greater the levels of character strength, life satisfaction, positive emotions, and prosocial behaviors over all three measurement time points.

 

These findings are interesting but correlational. So, conclusions regarding causation cannot be reached. But the findings suggest that, surprisingly, spirituality does not fluctuate greatly over time in adolescents. They also suggest that spirituality is associated with a relatively satisfying and happy life that is engaged positively with other people. Hence, spirituality would appear to be a positive factor that is helpful to youths in maintaining well-being over the turbulent time of adolescence.

 

So, promote well-being in adolescents with spirituality.

 

“Both religion and spirituality can have a positive impact on mental health. In some ways, they provide the same impact. For example: Both religion and spirituality can help a person tolerate stress by generating peace, purpose and forgiveness.” – Laura Greenstein

 

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

 

Kor A, Pirutinsky S, Mikulincer M, Shoshani A and Miller L (2019) A Longitudinal Study of Spirituality, Character Strengths, Subjective Well-Being, and Prosociality in Middle School Adolescents. Front. Psychol. 10:377. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00377

 

Using data from 1,352 middle-school Israeli adolescents, the current study examines the interface of spirituality and character strengths and its longitudinal contribution to subjective well-being and prosociality. Participants were approached three times over a 14-months period and completed measures of character strengths, spirituality, subjective well-being (positive emotions, life satisfaction), and prosociality. Findings revealed a fourth-factor structure of character strengths that included the typical tripartite classification of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and intellectual strengths together with spirituality emerging as a statistically autonomous factor. Spirituality was stable over time and contributed to higher subjective well-being and prosociality both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Discussion focuses on spirituality as a fundamental character strength and an important aspect of positive development.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00377/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_925884_69_Psycho_20190305_arts_A

 

Improve Executive and Emotional Control of Grief with Mindfulness

Improve Executive and Emotional Control of Grief with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness for grief is not about whitewashing your pain, or “getting over” your loss. It is about learning how to stay present, cultivate compassion, and make wise choices that will help you cope with this new normal known as life after loss.” – Heather Stang

 

Grief is a normal, albeit complex, process that follows a loss of a significant person or situation in one’s life. This can involve the death of a loved one, a traumatic experience, termination of a relationship, loss of employment etc. Exactly what transpires depends upon the individual and the nature of the loss. It involves physical, emotional, psychological and cognitive processes. Not everyone grieves in the same way but there have been identified four general stages of grief, shock and denial, intense concern, despair and depression, and recovery. These are normal and healthy. But, in about 15% of people grief can be overly intense or long and therapeutic intervention may become necessary.

 

Mindfulness practices have been found to help with coping with loss and its consequent grief.  Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)  was specifically developed to treat depression. MBCT involves mindfulness training, containing sitting, walking and body scan meditations, and cognitive therapy That is designed to alter how the patient relates to the thought processes that often underlie and exacerbate psychological symptoms. This would seem to be an ideal treatment protocol to treat intense grief.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Improves Emotion Regulation and Executive Control on Bereaved Individuals: An fMRI Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6360180/ ), Huang and colleagues recruited participants who had lost a significant relative within the last 4 years and self-reported intense unresolved grief. They completed an 8-week, once a week for 2.5 hours Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) treatment including daily, 30-40 minute, home practice. The participants were measured before and after treatment for grief, anxiety, depression, and emotion regulation.

 

The participants also underwent 3 brain scanning sessions with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). During 2 of the sessions they performed a numerical Stroop task in which they were to report which of 2 numerals was larger. In one session they were to ignore the physical size of the numeral and only report on the numerically larger numeral. In the second session they were to ignore the numerical magnitude of the numeral and only report on the physically larger numeral. This task measures cognitive interference and executive control.

 

They found that after MBCT treatment there were large and highly significant increases in mindfulness and emotion regulation and decreases in grief, anxiety, and depression. They also found that after treatment the higher the level of mindfulness the lower the levels of grief, anxiety, and depression. In addition, the participants after treatment were significantly better at ignoring irrelevant stimuli and respond faster in the Stroop task. This suggests reduced negative emotionality and improved cognitive control.

 

The researchers observed that after treatment during the cognitive task there was a decrease in activity in the cingulate cortex. These areas are involved in what is termed the Default Mode Network which becomes active during mind wandering and self-referential thinking. In other words, the brain areas associated with a lack of attention to the task at hand became less active. This suggests that there was greater attention to the present moment after MBCT training.

 

Long-term intense grief can be very harmful to the psychological and physical well-being of the individual. The present findings suggest that MBCT practice may be an effective treatment. It appears to reduce the negative emotions and improve the ability to regulate them in grieving individuals. It appears to do so, by altering the brain systems associated with mind wandering. It is during mind wandering where rumination occurs that tends to exacerbate anxiety and depression. So, the brain changes produced by MBCT treatment tend to keep the individual focused on the present lowering the impact of the past on their emotional state.

 

So, improve executive and emotional control of grief with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness reminds us that pain and sorrow, like all else, are impermanent.  Does this mean grief goes away completely?  Of course not.   But it does mean that it will change shape and form, it will ebb and flow, some days it will hurt like hell and some days you will start to smile.  It means that our grief, like everything else, is impermanent and ever-changing.  Once we accept this, even if only on a rational level, some of the need to avoid our grief starts to diminish.  We can stop believing it is permanent and will never change, even when we feel it will last forever.  We can start noticing and accepting our grief for what it really is and the small changes every day in our experiences.’ – WYG

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Huang, F. Y., Hsu, A. L., Hsu, L. M., Tsai, J. S., Huang, C. M., Chao, Y. P., Hwang, T. J., … Wu, C. W. (2019). Mindfulness Improves Emotion Regulation and Executive Control on Bereaved Individuals: An fMRI Study. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 12, 541. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2018.00541

 

Abstract

The grief of bereavement is recognized as a severe psychosocial stressor that can trigger a variety of mental and physical disorders, and the long-lasting unresolved grief has a detrimental effect on brain functionality. Literature has documented mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) as an efficient treatment for improving well-being, specifically related to the mood and cognition, in a variety of populations. However, little attention has been devoted to neural mechanisms with regard to bereaved individuals’ cognition after MBCT intervention. In this study, we recruited 23 bereaved participants who lost a significant relative within 6 months to 4 years to attend 8-week MBCT course. We used self-reporting questionnaires to measure emotion regulation and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with the numerical Stroop task to evaluate the MBCT effect on executive control among the bereaved participants. The self-reported questionnaires showed improvements on mindfulness and reductions in grief, difficulties in emotion regulation, anxiety, and depression after the MBCT intervention. The fMRI analysis demonstrated two scenarios: (1) the activity of the fronto-parietal network slightly declined accompanied with significant improvements in the reaction time of incongruent trials; (2) the activities in the posterior cingulate cortex and thalamus were positively associated with the Texas Revised Inventory of Grief, implying emotional interferences on cognitive functions. Results indicated that MBCT facilitated the executive control function by alleviating the emotional interferences over the cognitive functions and suggested that the 8-week MBCT intervention significantly improved both executive control and emotion regulation in bereaved individuals.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6360180/

 

Improve Psychological Well-Being with a Smartphone Mindfulness App

Improve Psychological Well-Being with a Smartphone Mindfulness App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mobile phones are often scorned as devices of distraction, but paradoxically, they may serve as a good platform to practice being in the moment and being mindful given their wide use,” – Jayde Flett

 

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 and resilience in the face of stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a 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, 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. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of these Apps in inducing mindfulness and improving psychological health.

 

In today’s Research News article “). Effects of a Mindfulness Meditation App on Subjective Well-Being: Active Randomized Controlled Trial and Experience Sampling Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329416/ ), Walsh and colleagues recruited undergraduate students and randomly assigned them to practice with one of two smartphone apps, “Wildflowers” Mindfulness Training or “2048” Cognitive Training, for 10 minutes per day for three weeks. “2048” is described as “fun and relaxing puzzle game”. “Wildflowers” involves a variety of meditation trainings. “Ratings of current mood, stress level, and heart rate were recorded within each app before and after each training session.” Also, before and after the 3 weeks of training with the Apps the participants completed online measures of perceived stress, personality, well-being, psychological inflexibility, experiential avoidance, mindfulness, interoceptive awareness, spirituality, meaning in life, attentional control, interoceptive attention, and positive and negative mood.

 

They found that in comparison to the before session mood and the cognitive training group, after the session the participants who engaged in mindfulness training had significantly improved mood and reduced perceived stress. Hence, on the short term, engagement with the mindfulness app improved the emotional state of the participants.

 

They also found that both groups significantly improved over the 3 weeks of training on awareness and self-acceptance. The mindfulness training group, however, had significantly greater improvement in self-acceptance. In addition, the mindfulness training group had a significant improvement in attentional control, specifically increased ability to deal with conflicts for attention. This may be particularly helpful for the academic ability of college students. Hence on the longer term, engaging with the mindfulness app results in improved attentional ability and self-acceptance.

 

This research is well structured as the control, comparison, condition involved an equivalent amount of practice, time commitment, and expectation of benefit. So, the findings can be viewed as solid. The study, however, lacks a follow-up to determine if the effects are lasting or fleeting. The results though demonstrate that engaging in mindfulness practices with a smartphone produces short-term benefits for the individual’s emotional and psychological state and attentional ability. These are substantial benefits for a 10 minute per day investment of time. The low cost, scalability, flexibility, and convenience of training using a smartphone make it an important advance in mindfulness training.

 

So, improve psychological well-being with a smartphone mindfulness app.

 

Mindfulness does not mean avoiding digital media, nor does it mean making one’s own mindfulness dependent on it – so let’s be more mindful when it comes to mindfulness!” – Annika Heinemeyer

 

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

 

Walsh, K. M., Saab, B. J., & Farb, N. A. (2019). Effects of a Mindfulness Meditation App on Subjective Well-Being: Active Randomized Controlled Trial and Experience Sampling Study. JMIR mental health, 6(1), e10844. doi:10.2196/10844

 

Abstract

Background

Mindfulness training (MT) includes a variety of contemplative practices aimed at promoting intentional awareness of experience, coupled with attitudes of nonjudgment and curiosity. Following the success of 8-week, manualized group interventions, MT has been implemented in a variety of modalities, including smartphone apps that seek to replicate the success of group interventions. However, although smartphone apps are scalable and accessible to a wider swath of population, their benefits remain largely untested.

Objective

This study aimed to investigate a newly developed MT app called Wildflowers, which was codeveloped with the laboratory for use in mindfulness research. It was hypothesized that 3 weeks of MT through this app would improve subjective well-being, attentional control, and interoceptive integration, albeit with weaker effects than those published in the 8 week, manualized group intervention literature.

Methods

Undergraduate students completed 3 weeks of MT with Wildflowers (n=45) or 3 weeks of cognitive training with a game called 2048 (n=41). State training effects were assessed through pre- and postsession ratings of current mood, stress level, and heart rate. Trait training effects were assessed through pre- and postintervention questionnaires canvassing subjective well-being and behavioral task measures of attentional control and interoceptive integration. State and trait training data were analyzed in a multilevel model using emergent latent factors (acceptance, awareness, and openness) to summarize the trait questionnaire battery.

Results

Analyses revealed both state and trait effects specific to MT; participants engaging in MT demonstrated improved mood (r=.14) and a reduction of stress (r=−.13) immediately after each training session compared with before the training session and decreased postsession stress over 3 weeks (r=−.08). In addition, MT relative to cognitive training resulted in greater improvements in attentional control (r=−.24). Interestingly, both groups demonstrated increased subjective ratings of awareness (r=.28) and acceptance (r=.23) from pre- to postintervention, with greater changes in acceptance for the MT group trending (r=.21).

Conclusions

MT, using a smartphone app, may provide immediate effects on mood and stress while also providing long-term benefits for attentional control. Although further investigation is warranted, there is evidence that with continued usage, MT via a smartphone app may provide long-term benefits in changing how one relates to their inner and outer experiences.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329416/

 

Protect the Brain from Age-Related Atrophy with Tai Chi

Protect the Brain from Age-Related Atrophy with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Tai Chi . . improves brain health and can be an effective solution for simple, age-related decline in brain function.” – FAI Education

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem-solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. Using modern neuroimaging techniques, scientists have been able to view the changes that occur in the nervous system with aging. In addition, they have been able to investigate various techniques that might slow the process of neurodegeneration that accompanies normal aging. They’ve found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue. Indeed, the brains of practitioners of meditation and yoga have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners. Tai Chi and Qigong have also been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging and to increase brain matter in the elderly.

 

In today’s Research News article “Long-Term Tai Chi Experience Promotes Emotional Stability and Slows Gray Matter Atrophy for Elders.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00091/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_907099_69_Psycho_20190212_arts_A ), Liu and colleagues recruited older (60 to 70 years of age) adults who had been practicing Tai Chi for at least 10 years and control participants who were matched to the Tai Chi group on age, physical activity and gender. They were measured for mindfulness, depression, impulsivity, and personality. They also underwent brain scanning with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The participants also completed a computerized risk-taking task which had both positive or negative outcomes. They completed emotion ratings after each outcome.

 

They found that the experienced Tai Chi practitioners had significantly greater emotional stability and took less risks than the control group. Additionally, the Tai Chi group had significantly stronger emotional reactions to both good and bad outcomes in the risk-taking task. The brain scans revealed that the Tai Chi group had significantly greater grey matter in the areas of the brain known as the hippocampus and the thalamus. They also found that the greater the grey matter in the thalamus the greater the levels of mindfulness and emotional stability while the greater the grey matter in the hippocampus the greater the levels of emotional stability and lower levels of neuroticism and risk taking.

 

These are interesting results but the study is correlational and cross sectional. So, care must be exercised in interpretation of causation. But the fact that the control group was equally physically active as the Tai Chi group is a strength that suggests that the results were due to Tai Chi practice per se and not just to the physical activity produced by Tai Chi practice. The results suggest that Tai Chi practice may help to protect the brain, particularly the thalamus and hippocampus, from age-related degeneration as has been previously reported, and this protection may be associated with greater emotional stability and lower risk taking.

 

The findings of less risk taking of the elderly Tai Chi participants may be an important observation. The elderly may be vulnerable to injury and falls that can produce serious injuries in this group. One reason that Tai Chi may produce fewer falls in the elderly is that they are being more careful and taking fewer risks. The elderly are also financially vulnerable and may benefit from less financial risk taking in protecting their available resources.

 

So, protect the brain from age-related atrophy with Tai Chi.

 

regular practice of Tai Chi could play an important role in promoting both brain and muscle health in older adults. Tai Chi is a mind-body exercise worth exploring at any age.” – Marilyn Wei

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available at the Contemplative Studies Blog http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/

They are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Liu S, Li L, Liu Z and Guo X (2019) Long-Term Tai Chi Experience Promotes Emotional Stability and Slows Gray Matter Atrophy for Elders. Front. Psychol. 10:91. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00091

 

Brain adverse structural changes, especially the atrophy of gray matter, are inevitable in aging. Fortunately, the human brain is plastic throughout its entire life. The current cross-section study aimed to investigate whether long-term Tai Chi exercise could slow gray matter atrophy and explore the possible links among gray matter volume (GMV), long-term Tai Chi experience and emotional stability in a sequential risk-taking task by using voxel-based morphometry. Elders with long-term Tai Chi experience and controls, who were matched to Tai Chi group in age, gender, physical activity level, participated in the study. A T1-weighted multiplanar reconstruction sequence was acquired for each participant. Behaviorally, the Tai Chi group showed higher meditation level, stronger emotional stability and less risk-taking tendency in the sequential risk-taking compared to the control group. Moreover, the results revealed that the GMV of the thalamus and hippocampus were larger in the Tai Chi group compared with the control group. Notably, the GMV of the thalamus was positively correlated with both meditation level and emotional stability. The current study suggested the protective role of long-term Tai Chi exercise at slowing gray matter atrophy, improving the emotional stability and achieving successful aging for elders.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00091/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_907099_69_Psycho_20190212_arts_A

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Lower Anxiety and Depression in Adolescents Partly by Higher Emotional Intelligence

Mindfulness is Associated with Lower Anxiety and Depression in Adolescents Partly by Higher Emotional Intelligence

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“It is well-documented that mindfulness helps to relieve depression and anxiety in adults. A small but growing body of research shows that it may also improve adolescent resilience to stress through improved cognitive performance and emotional regulation. This is encouraging news for anyone concerned about the increasing rates of depressive symptoms and suicide rates among adolescents in the United States” – Malka Main

 

Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. It is during this time that higher levels of thinking, sometimes called executive function, develops. But adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms.

 

Mindfulness training in adults has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression levels and improve emotional regulation. In addition, in adolescents it has been shown to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health. In today’s Research News article “Does Emotional Intelligence Mediate the Relation Between Mindfulness and Anxiety and Depression in Adolescents?” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02463/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_856297_69_Psycho_20181220_arts_A ), Foster and colleagues recruited 8th Grade students and had them complete an online questionnaire measuring mindfulness, anxiety, depression, and emotional intelligence, including subscales for emotional recognition and expression, understanding emotions, motions direct cognition, and emotional management and control. The data were then subjected to regression analysis.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of emotional intelligence, overall and all subscales, and the lower the levels of anxiety and depression. They also found that the higher the levels of emotional intelligence, overall and all subscales, the higher the levels of mindfulness and the lower the levels of anxiety and depression. Performing a mediation analysis, they found that mindfulness was associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression directly and also indirectly by its association with emotional intelligence which in turn was associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression.

 

The study was correlational. So, no conclusions about causation can be reached. The results, however, suggest that adolescents are similar to adults in having clear relationships between mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and psychological health. Like adults, the adolescents’ levels of mindfulness and emotional intelligence are associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression. The results, though, also suggest that mindfulness’ association with anxiety and depression is partly by a direct association and partly indirectly through an association with emotional intelligence. This further highlights the fact that mindfulness is an important contributor to the development of an understanding of and ability to regulate emotions. It can’t be overemphasized how important this is for the adolescent in navigating the turbulent years of adolescence.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with lower anxiety and depression in adolescents partly by higher emotional intelligence.

 

“Anything that increases awareness helps with the struggle with depression, anxiety, and substance use. In terms of adolescents increasing awareness actually increases maturation—particularly if the practice is done in an environment leading to increased connection with others who understand your challenges.” – Michel Mennesson

 

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

 

Foster B, Lomas J, Downey L and Stough C (2018) Does Emotional Intelligence Mediate the Relation Between Mindfulness and Anxiety and Depression in Adolescents? Front. Psychol. 9:2463. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02463

 

High anxiety and depression are often observed in the Australian adolescent population, and if left untreated, can have long-term negative consequences impacting educational attainment and a range of important life outcomes. The utilization of mindfulness techniques has been associated with decreased anxiety and depression, but the underlying mechanisms for this is only beginning to be understood. Previous research with adult samples has suggested that the development of emotional intelligence (EI) may be one mechanism by which mindfulness confers its benefits on wellbeing. This study is the first to examine the relation between mindfulness, EI, anxiety, and depression in an adolescent population. It was hypothesized that EI would mediate the relationships between mindfulness and anxiety, as well as mindfulness and depression. The sample consisted of 108 adolescents from a public secondary school, aged between 13 and 15 years (Mage = 13.68, SDage = 0.56, 51 males and 57 females). Participants completed an online self-report questionnaire which measured dispositional mindfulness, EI, anxiety, and depression. The results indicated that one subscale of EI – Emotional Recognition and Expression (ERE) mediated the relation between mindfulness and anxiety, while two subscales of EI – ERE and Emotional Management and Control (EMC) mediated the relation between mindfulness and depression. Future research utilizing a mindfulness intervention should be conducted to examine whether the use of mindfulness increases EI and decreases anxiety and depression in adolescents.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02463/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_856297_69_Psycho_20181220_arts_A

 

Improve Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) with Mindfulness

Improve Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“IBS causes a huge public health and economic burden in the U.S. The standard of care currently has been diet changes along with medications. A mind-based . . . has the potential to minimize both the public health and economic burden of this debilitating disease,” – Saurabh Sethi

 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder with worldwide prevalence rates ranging from 9–23%. In the U.S. the rates generally in the area of 10–15% affecting between 25 and 45 million people. IBS is not life threatening but it is very uncomfortable producing changes in bowel movement patterns, bloating and excess gas, and pain in the lower belly. It is also a major source of absenteeism both at work and in school. IBS is also associated with a marked reduction in the individual’s health quality of life, with disruption of the physical, psychological and social routines of the individuals. At present, there are no known cures for IBS and treatments involve symptomatic relief, often with fairly radical dietary changes.

 

The cause(s) of IBS are not known. But emotion dysregulation is suspected to be involved. It is clear that psychological stress exacerbates the illnesses and anxiety amplifies the symptoms. This suggests that mindfulness or the lack thereof may be involved as mindfulness is known to be helpful in reducing the psychological and physical responses to stress and mindfulness is known to improve emotion regulation. In addition, It has been shown that meditation and yoga can help relieve IBS symptoms.  So, it would make sense to further investigate the effectiveness of mindfulness training and emotion regulation for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

 

In today’s Research News article “Comparing the Efficacy of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Therapy with Emotion Regulation Treatment on Quality of Life and Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6178327/ ), Ghandi and colleagues recruited patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and randomly assigned them to receive either an 8-week, once a week for 90 minutes program of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Emotion Regulation group training, or a wait-list. The MBSR treatment consisted of body scan, meditation, and yoga practices and group discussion with homework. Emotion Regulation training consisted in training on “emotional awareness” and “acceptance”. The patients were measured before and after training and 2 months later for IBS severity and quality of life with IBS.

 

They found that both Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Emotion Regulation training produced significant improvements in IBS severity and the quality of life with IBS and that this effectiveness was maintained 2 months later. There were no significant differences in the effectiveness of MBSR and emotion regulation training. Hence, both MBSR and emotion regulation training produce large and lasting improvements in the symptoms of IBS and the quality of life of the patients.

 

Since MBSR training is known to improve emotion regulation, the fact that MBSR and emotion regulation training produced equivalent benefits suggests that MBSR may be effective for IBS because of its ability to improve emotion regulation, particularly improving the emotional responses to stress. It will require further research to examine this possibility.

 

So, improve Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) with mindfulness.

 

“For a person who has IBS, mindfulness-based therapies are thought to help to reduce anxiety related to digestive symptoms. Due to our body’s natural stress response, such anxiety can actually exacerbate the very digestive symptoms that a person with IBS is most concerned about. The theory behind mindfulness-based therapies for IBS is that when you experience less reactivity to physical sensations related to your digestive system, you will experience less unwanted symptoms.” – Barbara Bolen

 

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

Abstract

 

Ghandi, F., Sadeghi, A., Bakhtyari, M., Imani, S., Abdi, S., & Banihashem, S. S. (2018). Comparing the Efficacy of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Therapy with Emotion Regulation Treatment on Quality of Life and Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Iranian journal of psychiatry, 13(3), 175-183.

 

Objective: Irritable bowel syndrome is a common gastrointestinal disorder. The perception of stress and GI-specific anxiety play a key role in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The present study aims at comparing the efficacy of mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy with emotion regulation on the quality of life and severity in patients IBS.

Method : This randomized clinical trial was conducted in 3 phases: pretest, posttest, and follow-up. Follow-up was performed 2 months after the last intervention. The study population consisted of 24 IBS patients who were randomly selected according to Rome-IV Criteria and were then divided into 3 eight-member groups: (1) mindfulness-based stress reduction, (2) emotion regulation, and (3) control group. IBS-QOL34 and IBS-SSS were administered as assessment tools to all the 3 groups. The experimental groups were subjected to MBSR and ER psychotherapy, while the control group received no psychological intervention. After the 2-month follow-up, the 3 groups were evaluated again.

Results: The results revealed that MBSR improved the quality of life of IBS patients and dicreased severity of their condition. The findings of between and within subjects design revealed that the difference between MBSR and control groups was significant in IBS at follow-up (p = 0.01).

Conclusion: MBSR could be considered as a new, effective, and stable method in psychotherapy, in irritable bowel syndrome.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6178327/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Higher Emotional Intelligence

Mindfulness is Associated with Higher Emotional Intelligence

 

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. In this way, it erodes the automatic process of appraisal that gives rise to disturbing emotions in the first place” – Richard Chambers

 

Mindfulness practice has been shown to improve emotion regulation. Practitioners demonstrate the ability to fully sense and experience emotions, but respond to them in more appropriate and adaptive ways. In other words, mindful people are better able to experience yet control their responses to emotions. This is a very important consequence of mindfulness. Humans are very emotional creatures and these emotions can be very pleasant, providing the spice of life. But when they get extreme, they can produce misery and even mental illness. The ability of mindfulness training to improve emotion regulation is thought to be the basis for a wide variety of benefits that mindfulness provides to mental health and the treatment of mental illness especially depression and anxiety disorders.

 

Adolescence should be a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. But adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, emotional, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. Making these profound changes successfully requires a good deal or flexibility, adapting and changing with the physical, psychological, and social changes of adolescence and particularly to regulating the extreme fluctuations of emotions occurring during this time.

 

Hence, developing mindfulness and emotional regulation is important especially during adolescence. In today’s Research News article “Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness: Relation and Enhancement in the Classroom With Adolescents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02162/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_830687_69_Psycho_20181120_arts_A ), Rodríguez-Ledo and colleagues examine the relationship between emotional intelligence and mindfulness in adolescent school students, aged 11 to 14 years. They were randomly assigned to receive either 9 months of once a week for 55 minutes mindfulness, attention, and emotional intelligence training or no training. The students were measured before and after training for emotional intelligence, emotional development, socialization, empathy, and mindfulness. The mindfulness measure included scales of kinesthetic, internal, and external mindfulness. Kinesthetic mindfulness was paying attention to movements, internal mindfulness was paying attention to mental and emotional states, while external mindfulness was paying attention to stimuli outside of the individual.

 

Examining the pretest measures they found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of emotional development, emotional intelligence, empathy, and self-control in social situations. The relationships with emotional development and emotional intelligence were especially strong for kinesthetic and internal mindfulness suggesting that the ability to attend to internal states is particularly important for understand and regulating their own emotions. The relationships with empathy was especially strong for external and internal mindfulness suggesting that the ability to attend to the environment and the internal state are particularly important for understanding others emotions. Finally, they found that the mindfulness training significantly increased kinesthetic and internal mindfulness.

 

These results are interesting and suggests that mindfulness training is effective in making school children more sensitive to their internal states and not to the external environment. Attention to these internal states appears to be related to emotional intelligence. So, adolescents can be trained in mindfulness of their internal milieu and this is related to their emotional intelligence. This makes sense as emotions are changes in internal states and the first step in regulating them is to become aware of them.

 

Since adolescence is a time of emotional upheaval, these skills may be particularly important for the navigation of this difficult time of development. It remains for future research to determine if mindfulness training of adolescents can have long lasting effects on their ability to regulate their emotions and successfully transition to adulthood.

 

“The appearance of things change according to the emotions and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves.” – Kahlil Gibran

 

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

 

Rodríguez-Ledo C, Orejudo S, Cardoso MJ, Balaguer Á and Zarza-Alzugaray J (2018) Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness: Relation and Enhancement in the Classroom With Adolescents. Front. Psychol. 9:2162. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02162

 

Emotional intelligence (EI) and mindfulness are two constructs that have been separately studied, and the relation between them still remains unclear. Research in this area has not attempted to go further into how enhancing EI and mindfulness together can achieve better improvements in this ability to attend mindfully. To bridge this knowledge gap, our research goal was to study the relationship between EI and the mindfulness competence in our study sample and to assess the impact of implementing EI and a mindfulness competence developmental program (SEA) about participants’ mindfulness competence. The sample consisted of 156 students aged 11–14 years old from a Spanish public high school. One hundred and eight participants were randomly assigned to the experimental condition, and the remaining 48 were to the control condition. The instruments used to evaluate EI were the CDE-SEC, EQi-Youth Version and the General Empathy Scale. Mindfulness on the School Scope Scale was used to assess mindfulness competences. Social adaptation was evaluated by using the social abilities and adjustment questionnaire BAS3. All the instruments where answered by the participants and have been adapted to a sample of youths with such age specifications. The results showed that EI and mindfulness were related to many of the variables measured by the instruments. Showing a good mindfulness competence was particularly related to having a good general level of the EI trait, and to many of the assessed social and emotional variables. The data indicated a significant relation between the mindfulness competence and having better general empathy skills or being better socially adjusted to the school context. The data also indicated a significant effect on participants’ interior and kinesthetic mindfulness competence after implementing the SEA Program. These findings corroborate the relationship between EI and mindfulness, and the possibility of enhancing mindfulness by applying a direct intervention program in the classroom.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02162/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_830687_69_Psycho_20181120_arts_A

 

Protect Against Mental Illness and Suicide in Gay Men with Mindfulness

Protect Against Mental Illness and Suicide in Gay Men with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness enables you to recognize just how transitory thoughts are. They come and they go, like clouds before the sun. . . Watch your suicidal thoughts as they float by. You don’t need to grab one and hold on to it. More thoughts will come. More thoughts will go.” – Stacey Freedenthal

 

The word gay connotes happy and fun loving. This descriptor of homosexual men as gay, however is inaccurate. In fact, the risk of a mental health condition, like depression, anxiety disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is almost three times as high for youths and adults who identify as gay, It is troubling that suicide is attempted four times more often by gay youth. In addition, gay youth are almost twice as likely as their heterosexual peers to abuse drugs and alcohol.

 

Hence, it is important to develop resources that can reduce mental illness and suicidality in gay men. Mindfulness has been found to be associated with psychological well-being in gay men. It makes sense, then to further explore the ability of mindfulness to improve mental health and reduce suicidality in gay men.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and Other Psycho-Social Resources Protective Against Mental Illness and Suicidality Among Gay Men.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6095030/ ), Wang and colleagues recruited gay men and had them complete measures of self-efficacy, internalized homophobia, self-acceptance, purpose in life, hedonism, altruism, religion, spirituality, mindfulness, positive affect, life satisfaction, vitality, positive relations with others, mental illness, suicidality, and victimization. These data were analyzed with sophisticated modelling and regression analyses.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness, the higher the levels of self-efficacy, purpose in life, positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, and positive relations with others, and the lower the levels of internalized homophobia, emotional reactivity, and rumination. They also found that gay men with higher levels of mindfulness had lower incidences of mental illness, depression, and suicidality, and less medical/ psychological disability.

 

Hence, dispositional mindfulness appears to be associated with better psychological and mental health including reduced tendency for depression and suicide. These results are encouraging but are correlational, so causation cannot be determined. But other research has shown that mindfulness causes improvements in the mental and physical states of a wide variety of individuals. And there is no reason to believe that this would also not be the case with gay men. Future research should manipulate mindfulness levels with training and assess the impact of the increased mindfulness on the psychological and mental health of the gay men.

 

So, protect against mental illness and suicide in gay men with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness can be a powerful tool in dealing with various mental health challenges and symptoms. Beyond breathing exercises, mindfulness means being fully aware of the facets of the body and mind. This helps in assessing intrusive thoughts and emotional reactions.” – Faith Onimiya

 

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

 

Wang, J., Häusermann, M., & Ambresin, A. E. (2018). Mindfulness and Other Psycho-Social Resources Protective Against Mental Illness and Suicidality Among Gay Men. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 361. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00361

 

Abstract

Background: There is considerable evidence of health disparities among gay men characterized by higher levels of stress and distress. Psycho-social resources have been linked to numerous positive health outcomes and shown to act as buffers in the stress-distress pathway.

Methods: With data from the 3rd Geneva Gay Men’s Health Survey carried out in 2011 using time-space sampling (n = 428), a relatively elaborate profile of 14 psycho-social resources—including mindfulness—is presented. Using their original scores, latent class analysis created an index variable dividing the respondents into meaningful groups. Psycho-social resources—the index variable as well as each resource individually—were then compared to two recent outcomes—i.e., serious mental illness in the past 4 weeks and short-term disability in the past 2 weeks—using a series of logistic regression models, controlling for all other psycho-social resources and socio-demographic confounders. To assess their potential role as buffers, a similar series of logistic regression models were erected using victimization and three outcomes—i.e., major depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempt—in the past 12 months.

Results: According to the latent class analyses, (1) 5.1% of this sample had a low level of psycho-social resources (i.e., one standard deviation (SD) below the group means), (2) 25.2% a medium-low level, (3) 47.4% a medium level (i.e., at the group means), and (4) 22.2% a high level of psycho-social resources (i.e., one SD above the group means). Psycho-social resources appeared to strongly protect against recent mental morbidity and buffer against the impact of victimization on major depression and suicidality in the past 12 months, reducing the adjusted odds ratios below statistical significance. The explained variance and the individual psycho- https://www.huffingtonpost.com/lodro-rinzler/meditation-isnt-enough-a-_b_5672580.htmlConclusions: There may be disparities in several psycho-social resources among gay men, and as strong compensatory and protective factors, they may explain in part the well-established disparities in stress and distress in this population. While multiple psycho-social resources should be promoted in this population, gay men under 25 years should receive particular attention as all three disparities are most pronounced in this age group.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6095030/

 

Improve Adolescent’s Self-Compassion and Reduce Emotional Eating with Mindful Parenting

Improve Adolescent’s Self-Compassion and Reduce Emotional Eating with Mindful Parenting

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Interestingly, parents who simply had higher trait mindfulness did not see significantly better outcomes for their kids, suggesting that being mindful and being a mindful parent may be two different things.” – Jill Suttie

 

Raising children, parenting, is very rewarding, but it can also be challenging. Children test parents frequently. They test the boundaries of their freedom and the depth of parental love. These challenges require that the parents be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive their child. These skills are exactly those that are developed in mindfulness training. It improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves emotion regulation. It improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction. Mindful parenting involves the parents having emotional awareness of themselves and compassion for the child and having the skills to pay full attention to the child in the present moment, to accept parenting non-judgmentally and be emotionally non-reactive to the child.

 

Obesity has become an epidemic in the industrialized world. In the U.S. the incidence of obesity, defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or above has more than doubled over the last 35 years to currently around 35% of the population, while two thirds of the population are considered overweight or obese (BMI > 25). Sadly, children and adolescents have not been spared with 1 in 5 school age children and young people (6 to 19 years) classified as obese. This can be particularly troubling to adolescents who are very sensitive regarding their bodies and appearance and can be the victim of ridicule or shaming by peers.

 

One helpful method to reduce intake and help to control body weight is mindful eating. It involves paying attention to eating while it is occurring, including attention to the sight, smell, flavors, and textures of food, to the process of chewing and may help reduce intake. Indeed, high levels of mindfulness are associated with lower levels of obesity and mindfulness training has been shown to reduce binge eating, emotional eating, and external eating. In addition, mindfulness has been shown to improve the individual’s ability to respond adaptively to emotions. Hence, mindfulness may be an antidote to emotional eating. It is not known if mindful parenting can reduce emotional eating in adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Is Mindful Parenting Associated With Adolescents’ Emotional Eating? The Mediating Role of Adolescents’ Self-Compassion and Body Shame.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02004/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_812127_69_Psycho_20181030_arts_A ), Gouveia and colleagues recruited parent-adolescent dyads of mother or father and their 12-18 year old adolescent. The parents were measured for body size and mindful parenting. The adolescents were measured for body size, self-compassion, body shame, and emotional eating. The dyads were separated based upon the Body Mass Index (BMI) of the adolescents into normal weight and overweight and obese (BMI > 85th percentile) groups. They then performed a regression analysis of the data.

 

They found that the best fitting model of the data indicated that mindful parenting of the adolescents by the parents was associated indirectly with reduced emotional eating by the adolescents. The indirect path indicated that mindful parenting was associated with increased adolescent self-compassion which was in turn associated both with reduced emotional eating and reduced feelings of shame concerning their bodies which in turn was associated with reduced emotional eating. They also found that the facet of mindful parenting that was most associated with the benefits was the parents’ compassion for the child.

 

These results are correlational, so no conclusions regarding causation can be inferred. The results, however, are suggestive that the parents’ compassion for the child affects the child’s feelings of compassion toward itself which helps the child overcome feeling of shame about its body, all of which contribute to reduced eating in response to emotions. It remains for future research to determine if promoting parental compassion toward the adolescent may cause positive change in the adolescent, improving self-compassion, reducing body shame, and in turn reducing emotional eating.

 

So, improve adolescent’s self-compassion and reduce emotional eating with mindful parenting.

 

“Mindful parenting means that you bring your conscious attention to what’s happening, instead of getting hijacked by your emotions. . . It’s about accepting whatever is going on, rather than trying to change it or ignore it. Being a mindful parent means that you pay attention to what you’re feeling. It does not mean that you will not get angry or upset. Of course you will feel negative emotions, but acting on them mindlessly is what compromises our parenting.” – Parent Co

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

 

Gouveia MJ, Canavarro MC and Moreira H (2018) Is Mindful Parenting Associated With Adolescents’ Emotional Eating? The Mediating Role of Adolescents’ Self-Compassion and Body Shame. Front. Psychol. 9:2004. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02004

 

This study aimed to explore whether parents’ mindful parenting skills were associated with adolescents’ emotional eating through adolescents’ levels of self-compassion and body shame. The sample included 572 dyads composed of a mother or a father and his/her child (12–18 years old), with normal weight (BMI = 5–85th percentile) or with overweight/obesity with or without nutritional treatment (BMI ≥ 85th percentile) according to the WHO Child Growth Standards. Parents completed self-report measures of mindful parenting (Interpersonal Mindfulness in Parenting Scale), and adolescents completed measures of self-compassion (Self-Compassion Scale-Short Form), body shame (Experience of Shame Scale), and emotional eating (Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire). Two path models, one with the total score for mindful parenting and the other with its dimensions, were tested in AMOS. Mindful parenting, specifically the dimension of compassion for the child, was indirectly associated with emotional eating through adolescents’ self-compassion (point estimate = −0.27, p = 0.03, CI 95% [−0.61, −0.06]) and through self-compassion and body shame sequentially (point estimate = −0.19, p = 0.03, CI 95% [−0.37, −0.05]). The path model was invariant across weight groups but not across adolescents’ sex (the indirect effects were significant among girls only). This study provides a novel comprehensive model of how mindful parenting, especially the dimension of compassion for the child, can be associated with adolescents’ emotional eating behaviors by suggesting a potential sequence of mechanisms that may explain this association. This study suggests the beneficial effect of both mindful parenting and adolescents’ self-compassion skills for adolescent girls struggling with feelings of body shame and emotional eating behaviors.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02004/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_812127_69_Psycho_20181030_arts_A