Improve Health Message Effectiveness with Mindfulness

Improve Health Message Effectiveness with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

So, improve health message effectiveness with mindfulness.

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

Abstract

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

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

 

Improve Health Behaviors in Adolescents with Mindfulness

Improve Health Behaviors in Adolescents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Your teenager may react with skepticism at first when you suggest meditation. But, with all the noise in the world and on the internet these days, teens can definitely benefit from taking time to quiet the noise and meditate. It’s a handy practice that can help them through all kinds of confusing and stressful situations in life.” – Cleveland Clinic

 

We tend to think that illness is produced by physical causes, disease, injury, viruses, bacteria, etc. But, many health problems are behavioral problems or have their origins in maladaptive behavior. This is evident in car accident injuries that are frequently due to behaviors, such as texting while driving, driving too fast or aggressively, or driving drunk. Other problematic behaviors are cigarette smoking, alcoholism, drug use, or unprotected sex. Problems can also be produced by lack of appropriate behavior such as sedentary lifestyle, not eating a healthy diet, not getting sufficient sleep or rest, or failing to take medications according to the physician’s orders. Additionally, behavioral issues can be subtle contributors to disease such as denying a problem and failing to see a physician timely or not washing hands. In fact, many modern health issues, costing the individual or society billions of dollars each year, and reducing longevity, are largely preventable. Hence, promoting healthy behaviors and eliminating unhealthy ones has the potential to markedly improve health.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to promote health and improve illness. It is well established that if patterns and habits of healthy behaviors can be established early in life, long-term health can be promoted and ill health can be prevented. In today’s Research News article “Integrating mindfulness training in school health education to promote healthy behaviors in adolescents: Feasibility and preliminary effects on exercise and dietary habits.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5840835/ ), Salmoirago-Blotcher and colleagues explore the relationship of mindfulness to health behaviors in adolescents.

 

They recruited 9th grade classes in two high schools and assigned one to receive either 6-months of the usual health education class for 45 minutes 4 days per week combined with mindfulness training for 45 minutes one day per week or to receive the 4 days health education plus 1-day attention control. Students were measured before and after the 6-month training period for physical activity and dietary intake. Over the 6-month training period class attendance was high at 96%.

 

They did not find differences between groups before and after training for students who had low physical activity at baseline and did not find differences in dietary intakes. But, for students, particularly males, who were physically active at baseline participation in the health education plus mindfulness class produced significant increases in activity levels at the end of training. This was not true for the health education plus attention control condition.

 

These findings suggest that incorporating mindfulness training into the health education curriculum may increase health behaviors in adolescents. It is unfortunate that this intervention did not appear to work with the students who needed it the most, the sedentary students and did not work for dietary intake, with overweight and obesity a major problem. Perhaps a more refined and targeted program my work with this group. Unfortunately, the research did not explore other known benefits of mindfulness training for adolescents such as psychological health. This should be explored with future research. Regardless, the results suggest that mindfulness training should be further explored to increase health behaviors in adolescents. Strengthening these behaviors at a relatively early age may have positive health consequences throughout their lives.

 

So, improve health behaviors in adolescents with mindfulness.

 

“Qualitative data collection reveals that adolescents are less anxious and sleep better after doing yoga; in addition, their self-awareness and ease in their body increase, and their worldview begins to shift toward a more positive alignment.” – Sat Bir S. Khalsa

 

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

 

Salmoirago-Blotcher, E., Druker, S., Frisard, C., Dunsiger, S. I., Crawford, S., Meleo-Meyer, F., … Pbert, L. (2018). Integrating mindfulness training in school health education to promote healthy behaviors in adolescents: Feasibility and preliminary effects on exercise and dietary habits. Preventive Medicine Reports, 9, 92–95. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2018.01.009

 

Abstract

Whether mindfulness training (MT) could improve healthy behaviors is unknown. This study sought to determine feasibility and acceptability of integrating MT into school-based health education (primary outcomes) and to explore its possible effects on healthy behaviors (exploratory outcomes). Two high schools in Massachusetts (2014–2015) were randomized to health education plus MT (HE-MT) (one session/week for 8 weeks) or to health education plus attention control (HE-AC). Dietary habits (24-h dietary recalls) and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA/7-day recalls) were assessed at baseline, end of treatment (EOT), and 6 months thereafter. Quantile regression and linear mixed models were used, respectively, to estimate effects on MVPA and dietary outcomes adjusting for confounders. We recruited 53 9th graders (30 HEM, 23 HEAC; average age 14.5, 60% white, 59% female). Retention was 100% (EOT) and 96% (6 months); attendance was 96% (both conditions), with moderate-to-high satisfaction ratings. Among students with higher MVPA at baseline, MVPA was higher in HE-MT vs. HE-AC at both EOT (median difference = 81 min/week, p = 0.005) and at 6 months (p = 0.004). Among males, median MVPA was higher (median difference = 99 min/week) in HE-MT vs. HEAC at both EOT (p = 0.056) and at 6 months (p = 0.04). No differences were noted in dietary habits. In sum, integrating school-based MT into health education was feasible and acceptable and had promising effects on MVPA among male and more active adolescents. These findings suggest that MT may improve healthy behaviors in adolescents and deserve to be reproduced in larger, rigorous studies.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5840835/

 

Could Mindfulness Help Save the World?

Could Mindfulness Help Save the World?

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“While the link between mindfulness, nature, and well-being is not concrete, research suggests an interrelationship between these three attributes. This research supports the sense of well-being and renewal I found from meditating in the garden, and perhaps why I sought the garden while taking a course in mindfulness practice.” – Joanna Shaw

 

The ability of humans to manipulate and control the environment has developed to the point that human activity is now threatening to destroy that environment. This can be seen in the rapid extinction of once thriving species, the loss of forestation, the historic rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, sea level rise, and climate change. It has been argued that we may have crossed a tipping point where the environmental damage is irreversible. But, if we haven’t, there is a pressing need to address the very activities that are producing the damage. We need to begin acting more responsibly toward our environment in an attempt to reverse and heal the damage,

 

This will require actions by humans. This will require positive ecological behaviors. Ecological behavior is defined “as behaviors that protect/avoid harm to the environment and span all areas of life such as nutrition, mobility and transportation, energy and water consumption, waste avoidance, and consumerism.” In other words, humans need to change their behaviors toward more sustainable patterns.

 

Mindfulness promotes awareness of the internal and external environments. As such, it promotes sensitivity to these environments and to the impact of our actions on ourselves and the environment. In fact, mindfulness has been shown to be associated with the individual’s feelings of connectedness to nature. It is thus possible that mindfulness can stimulate ecological behavior and be a positive force for reversing the damage to our precious environment.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfully Green and Healthy: An Indirect Path from Mindfulness to Ecological Behavior.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02306/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_527044_69_Psycho_20180130_arts_A ), Geiger and colleagues examine the relationship of mindfulness with ecological behavior. They recruited participants from a University community including students, faculty, and staff and had them complete measures of mindfulness, health behaviors, and ecological behaviors. Health behaviors include “behaviors on nutrition, hygiene, stress recovery, risk prevention and physical exercise.” Ecological behaviors include “energy conservation, mobility, waste avoidance and recycling, consumerism, and vicarious, social behaviors toward conservation.”

 

Geiger and colleagues found that high levels of mindfulness were strongly related to high levels of health behaviors, but only moderately related to high levels of ecological behaviors, while health behaviors were strongly related to ecological behaviors. This suggests that mindfulness may be related directly and indirectly to ecological behaviors through the intermediary of health behavior. Indeed, an indirect effects analysis demonstrated exactly that, high levels of mindfulness were associated with high levels of ecological behaviors directly and also indirectly through mindfulness’ associations with health behaviors and in turn ecological behaviors.

 

This study is correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. It will remain for future research to demonstrate that increasing mindfulness through mindfulness training increases ecological behaviors. Nevertheless, the study demonstrates clear and strong relationships between mindfulness and behaviors that tend to protect and develop the environment. This further suggests that mindfulness may be a key to saving the planet. Developing mindfulness in the population may lead to the development of sustainable action toward the environment and perhaps reversing the present damage.

 

So, start saving the planet with mindfulness.

 

“Nature and mindfulness inform each other in profound ways. They are both aligned. Nature can provide the same kind of calming, quieting effect, which is enormously therapeutic and joyous for me.” – Mark Tercek

 

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

 

Geiger SM, Otto S and Schrader U (2018) Mindfully Green and Healthy: An Indirect Path from Mindfulness to Ecological Behavior. Front. Psychol. 8:2306. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02306

 

This paper examines the nature of the link between mindfulness and ecological behavior. Based on the notion that mindfulness incorporates heightened awareness of bodily sensations, we suggest an indirect path from mindfulness to ecological behavior that is mediated through individual health behavior, such as improved nutrition and increased exercise. This indirect path is corroborated with two online studies (n = 147/n = 239) where mindfulness, personal health behavior and ecological behavior were assessed. We conclude that increased mindful awareness of momentary experience indeed favors more healthy lifestyles, which in turn relate to increased ecological behavior beyond personal health benefits. The findings support an agreeableness of personal and planetary health behavior and open up a path for environmental educational interventions based on mindfulness practices and personal health gains.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02306/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_527044_69_Psycho_20180130_arts_A

Improve Heart Failure Treatment Adherence with Spirituality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Given the mechanism by which we think religion/spirituality influences physical health, i.e., through psychosocial and behavioral pathways, and the strong influence that psychosocial and behavioral factors have on risk of developing cardiovascular disease, there is no medical condition that R/S is more likely to influence than CVD.” – Fernando A. Lucchese

 

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack.” – Centers for Disease Control.

 

A myriad of treatments has been developed for heart disease including a variety of surgical procedures and medications. In addition, lifestyle changes have proved to be effective including quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses. Contemplative practices, such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. In addition, mindfulness practices have also been shown to be helpful for producing the kinds of other lifestyle changes needed such as smoking cessation, weight reduction, and stress reduction. Mindfulness has also been shown to be linked to spirituality and

Spirituality and religiosity are known to help with a wide range of physical and psychological problems. So, it would make sense to investigate the relationship of spirituality and religiosity to recovery from heart failure.

 

In today’s Research News article “Association between Spirituality and Adherence to Management in Outpatients with Heart Failure.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1332516243438965/?type=3&theater

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4940148/

Alvarez and colleagues measured adherence to therapy, quality of life, depression, religiosity and spirituality in adult patients with heart failure. They found that there were significant relationships between spirituality and adherence to pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic therapy, such that the higher the spirituality of the patient the greater the adherence. This was true for all of the spirituality subscales including spiritual connection, meaning of life, awe and wonder, wholeness & integration, spiritual strength, inner peace, hope & optimism and faith and was also true for intrinsic religiosity but not overall religiosity. They also found that the higher the levels of spirituality the higher the quality of life, both overall and disease specific, and the lower the depression.

 

It should be pointed out that these results are correlational and as such causation cannot be concluded. It could be that the kinds of people who tend to adhere to medical recommendations are also the kinds of people who pursue spirituality. It will take a study where spirituality is manipulated to establish a causal connection.

 

These findings indicate that spirituality has very positive relationships with adherence and quality of life and negative relationship to depression in heart failure patients. Adherence is particularly significant. One of the biggest challenges in all of medicine is to get patients to actually take the prescribed medications, perform the recommended life style changes, and participate in the prescribed therapy sessions. So, increasing adherence is very important for increasing the likelihood of patients getting the full benefit of their medical recommendations. For heart failure patients this could literally be the difference between life and death. These findings, like many others, point to the importance of spirituality and intrinsic religiosity, but not simple participation in religion, in the health and well-being of the individual.

 

So, improve heart failure treatment adherence with spirituality.

 

“the link between improved health and spiritual wellbeing was at least partially explained by the role gratitude plays in spirituality. It seems that a more grateful heart is indeed a more healthy heart. Gratitude journaling is an easy way to support cardiac health.” –  Paul Mills

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

Alvarez, J. S., Goldraich, L. A., Nunes, A. H., Zandavalli, M. C. B., Zandavalli, R. B., Belli, K. C., … Clausell, N. (2016). Association between Spirituality and Adherence to Management in Outpatients with Heart Failure. Arquivos Brasileiros de Cardiologia, 106(6), 491–501. http://doi.org/10.5935/abc.20160076

 

Abstract

Background: Spirituality may influence how patients cope with their illness.

Objectives: We assessed whether spirituality may influence adherence to management of outpatients with heart failure.

Methods: Cross sectional study enrolling consecutive ambulatory heart failure patients in whom adherence to multidisciplinary treatment was evaluated. Patients were assessed for quality of life, depression, religiosity and spirituality utilizing validated questionnaires. Correlations between adherence and psychosocial variables of interest were obtained. Logistic regression models explored independent predictors of adherence.

Results: One hundred and thirty patients (age 60 ± 13 years; 67% male) were interviewed. Adequate adherence score was observed in 38.5% of the patients. Neither depression nor religiosity was correlated to adherence, when assessed separately. Interestingly, spirituality, when assessed by both total score sum (r = 0.26; p = 0.003) and by all specific domains, was positively correlated to adherence. Finally, the combination of spirituality, religiosity and personal beliefs was an independent predictor of adherence when adjusted for demographics, clinical characteristics and psychosocial instruments.

Conclusion: Spirituality, religiosity and personal beliefs were the only variables consistently associated with compliance to medication in a cohort of outpatients with heart failure. Our data suggest that adequately addressing these aspects on patient’s care may lead to an improvement in adherence patterns in the complex heart failure management.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4940148/

 

Increase Health Behaviors with Mindfulness

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Even though the academic research on mindfulness meditation isn’t as robust as, say, nutrition or exercise, there is a reason why it’s been around for literally thousands of years. And we’re starting to get a better understanding of why it seems to be beneficial for so many aspects of life, from disease and pain management, to sleep, to control of emotions.” – Amanda Chan

 

We tend to think that illness is produced by physical causes, disease, injury, viruses, bacteria, etc. But, many health problems are behavioral problems or have their origins in maladaptive behavior. This is evident in car accident injuries that are frequently due to behaviors, such as texting while driving, driving too fast or aggressively, or driving drunk. Other problematic behaviors are cigarette smoking, alcoholism, drug use, or unprotected sex. Problems can also be produced by lack of appropriate behavior such as sedentary lifestyle, not eating a healthy diet, not getting sufficient sleep or rest, or failing to take medications according to the physician’s orders. Additionally, behavioral issues can be subtle contributors to disease such as denying a problem and failing to see a physician timely or not washing hands. In fact, many modern health issues, costing the individual or society billions of dollars each year, and reducing longevity, are largely preventable. Hence, promoting healthy behaviors and eliminating unhealthy ones has the potential to markedly improve health.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to promote health and improve illness. It appears to be associated with a number of factors that also promote health including emotion regulation, stress management, and immune function. Many of the improvements occur by changing health behaviors. This suggests that mindfulness may affect health indirectly through intermediaries, with mindfulness affecting an intermediary which in turn affects health behaviors which in turn affects health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness facets, trait emotional intelligence, emotional distress, and multiple health behaviors: A serial two-mediator model.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1230914793599111/?type=3&theater

or see below

Jacobs and colleagues explore the role of emotional intelligence and stress management as intermediaries between mindfulness and health behaviors. They had a large group of occupational therapists complete a series of tests on-line and conducted sophisticated statistical analyses to determine mediation effects of emotional intelligence and stress management between four different facets of mindfulness, observing, describing, acting with awareness and accepting without judging, and health behaviors.

 

They found that all of the mindfulness facets were significantly associated with positive health behaviors. The observing facet was primarily associated directly with health behaviors while the mindfulness facets of acting with awareness and accepting without judging affected health behaviors indirectly by affecting emotional intelligence and stress management which in turn, improved health behavior. Hence, the effects of mindfulness on health behaviors is partially direct with observing and indirect through emotional intelligence and stress management for the acting with awareness and accepting without judging facets.

 

These results suggest that observing, being able to notice and pay attention to internal and external occurrences, allow the individual to be better able to change their health behavior. Perhaps, being more aware of the effects of behavior on the body, the condition of the body, and the links to external conditions is helpful in motivating behavioral change. In other words, improved awareness of what the individual is doing and its consequences produces positive change in what the individual does.

 

Emotional intelligence involves being able to experience emotions fully without judging them. The mindfulness facet of accepting involves “being nonjudgmental and allowing the experienced

phenomena to be as they are without attempting to avoid, change or eliminate them.” Hence, mindfully accepting emotions is itself a component of emotional intelligence. In addition, emotional intelligence involves acting appropriately and adaptively in response to the emotions. This includes acting with awareness. Hence, the mindfulness facet of acting with awareness would be directly linked to emotional intelligence. In turn, emotional intelligence would allow for a more rational and adaptive response to our situation which would include promoting health behavior. So, the ability of mindfulness to produce positive health behaviors occurs in part directly and in part through its relationship with emotional intelligence.

 

The most important message here is that mindfulness can contribute greatly to your health. It improves your behavior to take better care of your health and it also improves the way you deal with your emotions making you better able to cope with the stresses of everyday life, improving your health. So, increase health behaviors with mindfulness.

 

“people who have battled with health problems for years find relief through accepting and working with their condition in a new way, dropping the desperate struggle to make things different from how they are. Mindfulness training makes it possible for a different kind of healing to take place, creating an open space of awareness from which people can start choosing to live well, as best they can, even with a serious illness.” – Line Goguen-Hughes

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

 

Study Summary

Jacobs, I., Wollny, A., Sim, C.-W. & Horsch, A. (2016). Mindfulness facets, trait emotional intelligence, emotional distress, and multiple health behaviors: A serial two-mediator model. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology

 

Abstract

In the present study, we tested a serial mindfulness facets-trait emotional intelligence (TEI)-emotional distress-multiple health behaviors mediation model in a sample of N = 427 German-speaking occupational therapists. The mindfulness facets-TEI-emotional distress section of the mediation model revealed partial mediation for the mindfulness facets Act with awareness (Act/Aware) and Accept without judgment (Accept); inconsistent mediation was found for the Describe facet. The serial two-mediator model included three mediational pathways that may link each of the four mindfulness facets with multiple health behaviors. Eight out of 12 indirect effects reached significance and fully mediated the links between Act/Aware and Describe to multiple health behaviors; partial mediation was found for Accept. The mindfulness facet Observe was most relevant for multiple health behaviors, but its relation was not amenable to mediation. Implications of the findings will be discussed.

 

Control Blood Pressure with Mindfulness

“A chronic state of arousal isn’t healthy. It causes hypertension, and it has been implicated in diabetes, asthma, and various gastrointestinal disorders. Part of the arousal response is to turn off the immune system, so you are breaking down instead of healing yourself.” ~ Erika Friedmann

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths, roughly 1,000 deaths each day, had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.  Hypertension is present in about 70% of first heart attacks, about 80% of first strokes, and about 70% of chronic heart failures. It is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. Additionally, nearly a third of American adults have prehypertension, with blood pressure higher than normal, but not yet considered hypertension.

 

High blood pressure, because it doesn’t have any primary symptoms is usually only diagnosed by direct measurement of blood pressure usually by a health care professional. When hypertension is chronically present over three quarters of patients are treated with antihypertensive drugs. But these medications often have adverse side effects. So, patients feel lousy when taking the drugs, but fine when they’re not. So, compliance is a major issue with many patients not taking the drugs regularly or stopping entirely.

 

Obviously there is a need for alternative to drug treatments for hypertension. Stress is known to be a contributing factor to hypertension. It acts in part by increasing activity in the sympathetic nervous system, the activating component of the peripheral nervous system and by increasing the release of stress hormones. So controlling stress would appear to be a reasonable non-drug approach to reducing high blood pressure.

 

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs were designed specifically to reduce stress. They include meditation, body scan, and yoga practices. Meditation (see http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/2015/08/21/control-blood-pressure-with-meditation/), and yoga (see http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/category/contemplative-practice/yoga-contemplative-practice/), and body scan (see http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/2015/07/29/get-your-calm-on/)  have  been shown to be successful in reducing both the psychological and physiological responses to stress. So, it would seem appropriate to use these techniques as alternatives to drug treatment for hypertension.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of Group Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction Program and Conscious Yoga on Lifestyle, Coping Strategies, and Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressures in Patients with Hypertension”

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1154248347932423/?type=3&theater

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4685370/

Nejati and colleagues compared hypertensive patients randomly assigned to receive an 8-week MBSR program or no treatment. They found significant positive improvements produced by MBSR treatment including improved lifestyle (nutrition, exercise, health responsibility, stress management, interpersonal support, and self-actualization), coping strategies (problem-focused and emotion-focused), and blood pressure (systolic and diastolic).

 

These results are impressive, but need to be tempered with the fact that the control condition was a no treatment condition. Without an active control many potentially confounding variables are present. But the results reinforce previous studies that make a compelling case that mindfulness practices such as MBSR are excellent alternatives to medication for the treatment of hypertension.

 

So, control blood pressure with mindfulness.

 

“Meditation can help us in many aspects of our lives, whether it be physically or mentally. It is a discipline that when practiced daily significantly decreases stress related diseases such as high blood pressure while increasing a deep relaxation response and the feel-good factor.” – Zenlama
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

Healthier Behaviors Come with Mindfulness

“The evidence cannot be overlooked: secondhand smoke kills, secondhand smoke harms, and secondhand smoke has no safe limit of exposure.” – Dr. Len

 

Mindfulness is known to promote physical health. Many of its benefits are attributed to the physical effects of mindfulness on the nervous system, the immune or the stress hormone systems. But many of the health issues in a modern society result from the individual’s behaviors. These include a poor diet, lack of exercise, cigarette smoking, drinking in excess, etc. Fortunately, mindfulness can assist with these problems also, affecting health by altering health related behaviors such as a healthy diet or exercise. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to produce healthier eating habits, reducing overeating and binge eating (see http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/2015/08/26/eat-mindfully-for-obesity/). Mindfulness can also help the individual deal with problem drinking (see http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/2015/08/28/kick-the-drug-habit-with-mindfulness/).

 

It has been well established that second hand cigarette smoke is dangerous. Since 1964, it has been estimated that 2,500,000 nonsmokers have died from health problems caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. About 34,000 heart disease deaths and that 7,300 lung cancer deaths each year are produced by breathing secondhand smoke. Obviously, an important but rarely studied health related behavior is the avoidance of secondhand smoke.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness, Physical Activity and Avoidance of Secondhand Smoke: A Study of College Students in Shanghai”

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1097112870312638/?type=3&theater

Gao and colleagues studied the relationship between college students’ levels of mindfulness and their avoidance of secondhand smoke and their activity levels. They found that the higher the level of mindfulness the higher the level of avoidance of secondhand smoke. In addition, higher levels of mindfulness were associated with higher activity levels. Interestingly, being male made it much more difficult to avoid secondhand smoke.

 

These results support the notion that mindfulness improves health and well-being not only directly through effects on the physiology but also indirectly by altering the types of behaviors that are associated with health. It both increases behaviors that tend to improve health, exercise, and decreasing behaviors that can lead to poor health, breathing secondhand smoke.

 

So, practice mindfulness and be healthier.

 

“The doctor of the future will give no medicines, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the causes and prevention of disease”. ~Thomas Edison

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies