Increase Positive Emotions and Decrease Emotional Disturbance in Adolescents with Meditation

Increase Positive Emotions and Decrease Emotional Disturbance in Adolescents with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Adolescence is a time of change and growth. It is the period of life reserved for rebellion and self-discovery, but as the demands in life increase for teens, this time is often fraught with confusion, anxiety or depression. For many teens these challenges lead to disconnection and isolation.” – Making Friends with Yourself

 

Adolescence is 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, 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 has been shown in adolescents to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health. Since adolescent girls are more likely to have emotional issues than boys, it would seem reasonable to hypothesize that mindfulness would have greater psychological benefits for adolescent girls than for boys.

 

In today’s Research News article “Gender differences in response to a school-based mindfulness training intervention for early adolescents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6174072/), Kang and colleagues recruited male and female 6th grade students and randomly assigned them to receive a school-based, 6-week program, 4-5 times per week for, on average, 5 minutes per day of either guided meditations or brief lessons on African history. Before and after training the students were measured for global emotional disturbance, positive emotions, mindfulness, and self-compassion.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the active controls, the adolescents who meditated had significantly higher positive emotions and significantly lower global emotional disturbance. For males there were significant increases in positive emotions for both groups while for females there were significant increases in positive emotions only for the meditation group. A similar trend was present for global emotional disturbance. In addition, they found that for females the higher the levels of self-compassion the higher the levels of positive emotions and the lower the levels of global emotional disturbance. This was not true for males.

 

The results appear to show that meditation training is particularly effective in improving emotions in female but not male adolescents. But the difference was not in the meditation condition but rather in the control condition. Whereas the female controls did not show any improvement in emotions while the meditation group improved. For the males, both groups improved. So, both males and female adolescents had improved emotions following 6-weeks of meditation practice. Adolescents is a turbulent time with strong emotions. The present results suggest that providing meditation training in school may be helpful in controlling and leveling these emotions.

 

So, increase positive emotions and decrease emotional disturbance in adolescents with meditation.

 

“Adolescence is a developmental moment of peak stress, and a teen’s heightened self-consciousness (“Do I look weird? Did I just sound stupid in class?”) cranks up the volume of the inner critic. Self-compassion encourages mindfulness, or noticing your feelings without judgment; self-kindness, or talking to yourself in a soothing way; and common humanity, or thinking about how others might be suffering similarly.” – Rachel Simmons

 

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., Rahrig, H., Eichel, K., Niles, H. F., Rocha, T., Lepp, N. E., … Britton, W. B. (2018). Gender differences in response to a school-based mindfulness training intervention for early adolescents. Journal of school psychology, 68, 163–176. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2018.03.004

 

Abstract

Mindfulness training has been used to improve emotional wellbeing in early adolescents. However, little is known about treatment outcome moderators, or individual differences that may differentially impact responses to treatment. The current study focused on gender as a potential moderator for affective outcomes in response to school-based mindfulness training. Sixth grade students (N = 100) were randomly assigned to either the six weeks of mindfulness meditation or the active control group as part of a history class curriculum. Participants in the mindfulness meditation group completed short mindfulness meditation sessions four to five times per week, in addition to didactic instruction (Asian history). The control group received matched experiential activity in addition to didactic instruction (African history) from the same teacher with no meditation component. Self-reported measures of emotional wellbeing/affect, mindfulness, and self-compassion were obtained at pre and post intervention. Meditators reported greater improvement in emotional wellbeing compared to those in the control group. Importantly, gender differences were detected, such that female meditators reported greater increases in positive affect compared to females in the control group, whereas male meditators and control males displayed equivalent gains. Uniquely among females but not males, increases in self-reported self-compassion were associated with improvements in affect. These findings support the efficacy of school-based mindfulness interventions, and interventions tailored to accommodate distinct developmental needs of female and male adolescents.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6174072/

 

Reduce Teacher Stress and Burnout with Mindfulness

Reduce Teacher Stress and Burnout with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness programs in the workplace may help employees better deal with stress, and develop the ability to observe negative emotions and automatic thought patterns and behaviors, and remain calm, present, self-aware and alert, rather than succumbing to the slippery slope of negative emotions.” – B. Grace Bullock

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This often produces burnout; fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, and professional inefficacy. Teachers experience burnout at high rates. Roughly a half a million teachers out of a workforce of three million, leave the profession each year and the rate is almost double in poor schools compared to affluent schools. Indeed, nearly half of new teachers leave in their first five years.

 

Burnout frequently results from emotional exhaustion. This exhaustion not only affects the teachers personally, but also the students, as it produces a loss of enthusiasm, empathy, and compassion. Regardless of the reasons for burnout or its immediate presenting consequences, it is a threat to schools and their students. In fact, it is a threat to the entire educational systems as it contributes to the shortage of teachers. Hence, preventing burnout has to be a priority.

Mindfulness has been demonstrated to be helpful in treating and preventing burnout.

 

In today’s Research News article “Can mindfulness mitigate the energy-depleting process and increase job resources to prevent burnout? A study on the mindfulness trait in the school context.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6448859/), Guidetti and colleagues examine the relationship of mindfulness to teacher burnout. They recruited primary, middle, and secondary school teachers and had them complete questionnaires measuring teacher mindfulness, teacher stress, meaningfulness of work, and burnout, including emotional exhaustion, and depersonalization.

 

They found significant relationships between mindfulness and the psychological state of the teachers with the higher the teacher’s levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of stress, emotional exhaustion, and depersonalization and the higher the levels of meaningfulness of work. A confirmatory factor analysis revealed that mindfulness was related to burnout (both emotional exhaustion and depersonalization) both directly and indirectly. High levels of mindfulness not only were directly related to burnout but also indirectly by being related to lower levels of stress and higher levels of meaningfulness of work which in turn were related to lower levels of burnout.

 

These results are correlational, so caution must be exercised in inferring causation. Previous research, however, has clearly demonstrated that mindfulness training results in decreased burnout in multiple occupations. So, it is likely that mindfulness is the cause of the lower levels of burnout observed in the current study with teachers. The current results show how mindfulness is related to lower teacher burnout. It does so both directly and indirectly through its relationships with stress and meaningfulness of work.

 

So, reduce teacher stress and burnout with mindfulness.

 

“when teachers practice mindfulness, students’ misbehavior and other stressors become like water off a duck’s back, allowing them to stay focused on what teachers really want to do: teach.” – Vicki Zakrzewski 

 

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

 

Guidetti, G., Viotti, S., Badagliacca, R., Colombo, L., & Converso, D. (2019). Can mindfulness mitigate the energy-depleting process and increase job resources to prevent burnout? A study on the mindfulness trait in the school context. PloS one, 14(4), e0214935. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0214935

 

Abstract

Background

Past studies in the teaching context provided evidence of the role of mindfulness-based intervention in improving occupational wellbeing. This study aims to increase the extant knowledge by testing the mechanism that links teachers’ mindfulness at work to occupational wellbeing. Rooted in the job demand–resource model, the mindfulness trait is conceptualized as a personal resource that has the ability to impact and interact with job demands and resources, specifically workload stress appraisal and perceived meaningfulness of work, in affecting teachers’ burnout.

Methods

A sample of primary, middle, and secondary school teachers (N = 605) completed a questionnaire that aimed to assess teachers’ mindfulness trait and the measures of the quality of occupational life in the school context. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted to test the model fit indices; further analyses were performed to test the hypotheses about mediation and moderation effects.

Results

The CFA showed good model fit indices. Further analyses highlighted that teachers’ mindfulness is negatively associated with workload stress appraisal and that positively influenced work meaning, in turn mediating the relationship between mindfulness and burnout. Finally, mindfulness moderated the effect of workload stress appraisal on burnout.

Conclusions

Rooted in the job demand–resource model, this study emphasizes an underrepresented personal resource, that is, the mindfulness trait at work, and the links that favor its impact on burnout. Practical and future research implications are also discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6448859/

 

Improve Attention and Hyperactivity in Kindergarten Children with Yoga

Improve Attention and Hyperactivity in Kindergarten Children with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga is a systematic workout regimen that has rejuvenating and calming effects on our body and mind. Young kids go through conflicting emotions, and yoga helps calm them down. They are also extremely flexible and therefore, a practice like yoga will help them contort their bodies in different ways.” – Shirin Mehdi

 

Yoga practice has been shown to have a large number of beneficial effects on the psychological, emotional, and physical health of the individual and is helpful in the treatment of mental and physical illness. The acceptance of yoga practice has spread from the home and yoga studios to its application with children in schools. Studies of these school programs have found that yoga practice produces a wide variety of positive psychosocial and physical benefits.

 

Teachers also note improvements in their students following yoga practice. These include improved classroom behavior and social–emotional skills, concentration, mood, ability to function under pressure, social skills, and attention and lower levels of hyperactivity. In addition, school records, academic tests have shown that yoga practice produces improvements in student grades and academic performance. This, in turn, improves the classroom experience for the teachers. Hence there are very good reasons to further study the effects of yoga practice early in children’s schooling; kindergarten.

 

In today’s Research News article “12 Weeks of Kindergarten-Based Yoga Practice Increases Visual Attention, Visual-Motor Precision and Decreases Behavior of Inattention and Hyperactivity in 5-Year-Old Children.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00796/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_963174_69_Psycho_20190416_arts_A), Jarraya and colleagues recruited kindergarten students and randomly assigned them to either practice yoga, normal physical education, or no treatment control. Yoga and Physical Education occurred twice per week for 30 minutes for 12 weeks. The Hatha yoga practice included postures and breathing exercises. The children were measured by their kindergarten teacher before and after the treatments for visual attention, visuomotor precision, inattention, and hyperactivity/impulsivity.

 

They found that in comparison to PE and control children, the children who practiced yoga had significantly improved visual attention and visuomotor precision, and significantly lower inattention, and hyperactivity/impulsivity. Visuomotor precision is a measure of cognitive function and includes measures of language, memory and learning, sensorimotor, social perception, and visuospatial processing. Hence, yoga practice improved attention, behavioral control, and higher-level thinking in the kindergarten children.

 

These are exciting results that are similar to those observed with older children. The abilities observed to have improved in the kindergarten children who practiced yoga are abilities that are essential for school performance. Attention is a key ability and that along with an additional reduction in hyperactivity sets the stage for learning. Then improved cognitive ability further heightens learning ability. This suggests that yoga practice has large benefits and should be recommended for young children to promote their ability to learn and perform in school.

 

So, improve attention and hyperactivity in kindergarten children with yoga.

 

“It sounds kind of goofy to people who don’t work with little kids, but kids that have a weak core have a hard time sitting still, and that can look like they’re not paying attention. Those are the kinds of mind-body connections you don’t think about until you start looking into it.” – Chas Zelinsky

 

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

 

Jarraya S, Wagner M, Jarraya M and Engel FA (2019) 12 Weeks of Kindergarten-Based Yoga Practice Increases Visual Attention, Visual-Motor Precision and Decreases Behavior of Inattention and Hyperactivity in 5-Year-Old Children. Front. Psychol. 10:796. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00796

 

The present study assesses the impact of Kindergarten-based yoga on cognitive performance, visual-motor coordination, and behavior of inattention and hyperactivity in 5-year-old children. In this randomized controlled trial, 45 children (28 female; 17 male; 5.2 ± 0.4 years) participated. Over 12 weeks, 15 children performed Hatha-yoga twice a week for 30 min, another 15 children performed generic physical education (PE) twice a week for 30 min, and 15 children performed no kind of physical activities, serving as control group (CG). Prior to (T0) and after 12 weeks (T1), all participants completed Visual Attention and Visuomotor Precision subtests of Neuropsychological Evaluation Battery and teachers evaluated children’s behavior of inattention and hyperactivity with the Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Rating Scale-IV. At T0, no significant differences between groups appeared. Repeated measures analysis of variance revealed that following Bonferroni–Holm corrections yoga, in comparison to PE and CG, had a significant positive impact on the development on behavior of inattention and hyperactivity. Further, yoga has a significant positive impact on completion times in two visumotor precision tasks in comparison to PE. Finally, results indicate a significant positive effect of yoga on visual attention scores in comparison to CG. 12 weeks of Kindergarten-based yoga improves selected visual attention and visual-motor precision parameters and decreases behavior of inattention and hyperactivity in 5-year-old children. Consequently, yoga represents a sufficient and cost-benefit effective exercise which could enhance cognitive and behavioral factors relevant for learning and academic achievement among young children.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00796/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_963174_69_Psycho_20190416_arts_A

 

Reduce Stress and Enhance Academic Buoyancy in Adolescents with Online Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Reduce Stress and Enhance Academic Buoyancy in Adolescents with Online Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“In the last few years mindfulness has emerged as a way of treating children and adolescents with conditions ranging from ADHD to anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, depression and stress. And the benefits are proving to be tremendous.” – Julianne Garey

 

Adolescence is 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, 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 in adolescents to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health. A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It is a mindfulness-based psychotherapy technique that is employs many of the techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). ACT focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes.

 

The original form of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), however, required a certified trained therapist. This resulted in costs that many clients couldn’t afford. In addition, the participants had to be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that were not always compatible with busy schedules and at locations that were not always convenient. As an alternative, mindfulness-based treatments delivered over the internet have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of ACT for adolescents when delivered over the internet.

 

In today’s Research News article “Reducing Stress and Enhancing Academic Buoyancy among Adolescents Using a Brief Web-based Program Based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6394525/ ), Puolakanaho and colleagues recruited adolescents in the 9th grade and randomly assigned them to receive a 5-week online program of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) or to a no-treatment control condition. They were measured before and after the program for academic skills, reading fluency, math skills, stress, school stress, and academic buoyancy. Academic buoyancy “refers to a student’s capacity to overcome everyday academic life setbacks and challenges successfully.”

 

They found that 76% of the participants completed the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) program. They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment controls that ACT produced a significant reduction in overall stress levels and a significant increase in academic buoyancy. These findings suggest that ACT can be taught online to adolescents and successfully promote their ability to withstand the stress of adolescence and to promote their ability to overcome the challenges of school.

 

So, reduce stress and enhance academic buoyancy in adolescents with online acceptance and commitment therapy.

 

mindfulness is uniquely able to help adolescents navigate this time of growing autonomy, more complicated life challenges and heightened reactivity to stressors in their lives.” – Karen Pace

 

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

 

Puolakanaho, A., Lappalainen, R., Lappalainen, P., Muotka, J. S., Hirvonen, R., Eklund, K. M., Ahonen, T., … Kiuru, N. (2018). Reducing Stress and Enhancing Academic Buoyancy among Adolescents Using a Brief Web-based Program Based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of youth and adolescence, 48(2), 287-305.

 

Abstract

Acceptance and commitment therapy programs have rarely been used as preventive tools for alleviating stress and enhancing coping skills among adolescents. This randomized controlled trial examined the efficacy of a novel Finnish web- and mobile-delivered five-week intervention program called Youth COMPASS among a general sample of ninth-grade adolescents (n= 249, 49% females). The intervention group showed a small but significant decrease in overall stress (between-group Cohen’s d = 0.22) and an increase in academic buoyancy (d= 0.27). Academic skills did not influence the intervention gains, but the intervention gains were largest among high-stressed participants. The results suggest that the acceptance and commitment based Youth COMPASS program may be well suited for promoting adolescents’ well-being in the school context.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6394525/

 

Increase Wellness and Decrease Burnout in Medical Students with Mindfulness

810986

Increase Wellness and Decrease Burnout in Medical Students with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“training in mindfulness – focusing controlled attention on physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions in the present moment – helps students to acknowledge and process the stresses and strains of their work.” – Cathy Kerr

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Burnout, in fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system as it contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses.

 

Preventing burnout has to be a priority. Unfortunately, it is beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress and prevent burnout, so it is important that methods be found to reduce the individual’s responses to stress; to make the individual more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep. It would be best to provide techniques to combat burnout early in a medical career. Medical School is extremely stressful and many students show distress and express burnout symptoms. Medical school may be an ideal time to intervene.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Targeted Mindfulness Curriculum for Medical Students During Their Emergency Medicine Clerkship Experience.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6040904/ ), Chung and colleagues in an uncontrolled pilot study delivered a mindfulness curriculum to students during their training in emergency medicine. The training was delivered in 4-weekly 60 minute sessions that included meditation practice, readings, journaling, discussion, and developing a personal wellness plan. They completed questionnaires before and after the 4 weeks of training and 6 months later regarding the impact of the training on their behavior and attitudes.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline, after training there were significant improvements in self-reported behaviors and attitudes. The students reported increased confidence in their ability to meditate and be mindful, explain these skills to others, and recommend these practices to others. They also reported that they practiced meditation and mindfulness more often and talked to others about these practices. In addition, they reported that wellness was important to medical students and that they were using their own wellness plan. Importantly, these improvements were still present 6 months after the completion of the training.

 

These are very preliminary results from an uncontrolled pilot study and need to be verified in a randomized controlled trial with objective measures of wellness and resistance to stress. Previous controlled studies, however, have shown that mindfulness training is effective in treating and preventing burnout and reducing the psychological and physiological responses to stress. So, these present results are suggestive that this simple brief curriculum may produce similar benefits.

 

It is important to use a brief training and this one only involved 4 hours of formal instruction. Medical students have a vast amount of important information to learn and master in a limited amount of time. They do not have the luxury of unused time for extensive instruction. So, a brief training that produces positive results that persist could be very valuable to their health and well-being during this stressful time and during a stressful career.

 

So, increase wellness and decrease burnout in medical students with mindfulness.

 

“I have taken my own advice. I am still at it: sitting on the deck, focusing on my breath, watching my thoughts, clearing my mind amid the shrill end-of-summer calls of the cicadas. I think I have noticed an effect — I feel a deeper sense of acceptance in my life, without losing a passion or resolve to change things for the better.” – Manoj Jain

 

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

 

Chung, A. S., Felber, R., Han, E., Mathew, T., Rebillot, K., & Likourezos, A. (2018). A Targeted Mindfulness Curriculum for Medical Students During Their Emergency Medicine Clerkship Experience. The western journal of emergency medicine, 19(4), 762-766.

 

Abstract

Introduction

Despite high rates of burnout in senior medical students, many schools provide the majority of their wellness training during the first and second preclinical years. Students planning a career in emergency medicine (EM) may be at particularly high risk of burnout, given that EM has one of the highest burnout rates of all the specialties in the United States We developed an innovative, mindfulness-based curriculum designed to be integrated into a standard EM clerkship for senior medical students to help students manage stress and reduce their risk of burnout.

Methods

The curriculum included these components: (1) four, once-weekly, 60-minute classroom sessions; (2) prerequisite reading assignments; (3) individual daily meditation practice and journaling; and (4) the development of a personalized wellness plan with the help of a mentor. The design was based on self-directed learning theory and focused on building relatedness, competence, and autonomy to help cultivate mindfulness.

Results

Thirty students participated in the curriculum; 20 were included in the final analysis. Each student completed surveys prior to, immediately after, and six months after participation in the curriculum. We found significant changes in the self-reported behaviors and attitudes of the students immediately following participation in the curriculum, which were sustained up to six months later.

Conclusion

Although this was a pilot study, our pilot curriculum had a significantly sustained self-reported behavioral impact on our students. In the future, this intervention could easily be adapted for any four-week rotation during medical school to reduce burnout and increase physician wellness.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6040904/

Improve Coping Strategies to Stress with Mindfulness

Improve Coping Strategies to Stress with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

In the modern world education is a key for success. Where a high school education was sufficient in previous generations, a college degree is now required to succeed in the new knowledge-based economies. There is a lot of pressure on students to excel so that they can get the best jobs after graduation. This stress might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s physical and mental health, well-being, and school performance. It is, for the most part, beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress, so it is important that methods be found to reduce the college students’ responses to stress; to make them more resilient when high levels of stress occur.

 

So, it would seem important to examine various techniques to improve coping strategies for stress in college students. Contemplative practices including meditationmindfulness training, and yoga practice have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Indeed, these practices have been found to reduce stress and improve psychological health in college students.  In today’s Research News article “Differential Effect of Level of Self-Regulation and Mindfulness Training on Coping Strategies Used by University Students.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6210926/ ), Fuente and colleagues examined the ability of students to cope with the stress of final exams and the ability of mindfulness training to produce more effective coping strategies.

 

They recruited college students and randomly assigned them to receive either 10 weeks, once a week for 1.5 hours, mindfulness training or to a no-treatment control condition. They were measured before and after training (during final exams) for self-regulation, including goal setting, perseverance, decision-making, and learning from mistakes, and coping strategies, including avoidant distraction, reducing anxiety and avoidance, preparing for the worst, emotional venting and isolation, resigned acceptance, family help and counsel, self-talk, positive reappraisal and firmness, communicating feelings and social support, and seeking alternative reinforcements.

 

They found that there was an increase in coping strategies at the end of training during final exams for those students who were high in self-regulation. With students with low levels of self-regulation mindfulness training appeared to help by decreasing emotion-focused coping particularly preparing for the worst, resigned acceptance, emotional venting, and isolation, and by increasing positive coping including positive reappraisal and firmness, self-talk, help for action.

 

These results suggest that students who have difficulty with regulating their own behavior benefit the most from mindfulness training, decreasing ineffective coping strategies and increasing effective strategies. So, mindfulness training improves the student’s ability to cope with stress effectively when the student has difficulty regulating themselves. This makes sense as students who are self-disciplined can deal with stress without mindfulness, but those who are not self-disciplined need the assistance of the non-judgmental awareness characteristic of mindfulness to identify the most effective coping strategies to deal with the stress.

 

So, improve coping strategies to stress with mindfulness.

 

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

 

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

Fuente, J., Mañas, I., Franco, C., Cangas, A. J., & Soriano, E. (2018). Differential Effect of Level of Self-Regulation and Mindfulness Training on Coping Strategies Used by University Students. International journal of environmental research and public health, 15(10), 2230. doi:10.3390/ijerph15102230

 

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to verify, in a group of psychology students, whether mindfulness training in conjunction with the individual’s level of self-regulation behavior would produce a change in the use of coping strategies. A total of 38 students participated in this study, with one experimental group and one control group, in a randomized controlled trial. Observation of the experimental group revealed a significant decrease in specific emotion-focused, negative coping strategies (preparing for the worst, resigned acceptance, emotional venting, and isolation), and a significant increase in specific problem-focused, positive coping (positive reappraisal and firmness, self-talk, help for action), in combination with students’ existing low-medium-high level of self-regulation. The importance and usefulness of mindfulness techniques in Higher Education is discussed, in conjunction with differences in university students’ level of self-regulation behavior.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6210926/

 

Improve Emotional Responding in Adolescents with School-Based Mindfulness Training

Improve Emotional Responding in Adolescents with School-Based Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness has many benefits for students, including better sleep, increased focus, reduced stress and reduced challenges related to depression and anxiety,” – Patricia Lester

 

Adolescence should be 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. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health of adolescents.

 

Most measures of emotional responding are self-report subjective measures. The electrical responses of the brain, however, can be used to objectively measure emotional responding and attention. Evoked potentials are brain electrical responses to specific stimuli. The P3b response in the evoked potential is a positive going electrical response occurring between a 4.2 to 5.2 tenths of a second following the target stimulus presentation. The P3b response is thought to measure attention to emotional stimuli.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of school‐based mindfulness training on emotion processing and well‐being in adolescents: evidence from event‐related potentials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6175003/ ), Sanger and colleagues obtained the cooperation of 4 secondary schools and recruited 16-18 year old students from each. The adolescent students from two schools received mindfulness training while the adolescent students from the other two schools were assigned to a wait list. Mindfulness training occurred in 8, 50-minute sessions over a month in the regular school day. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness, stress, depression, empathy, health and acceptability of the program.

 

In addition, the students’ Electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded while their attention was examined with an emotional oddball task. They watched a screen where the same two faces with neutral expressions were presented repeatedly, 80% of the time. Different happy or sad faces (oddball) were presented 20% of the time. The students were asked to press a space bar every time a happy or sad face appeared. The change in the EEG evoked by the faces was recorded as well as the speed and accuracy of the students’ responses. In particular the P3b evoked response was targeted. It consists of a positive going change in the evoked potential occurring 420-520 milliseconds after the stimulus. It is associated with attention to emotional stimuli.

 

They found that the size of the P3b evoked response to both the happy and the sad faces decreased over time in the control group suggesting a loss of responsivity to emotional stimuli (habituation) in the non-trained students. On the other hand, the size of the response did not decrease in the trained students, suggesting a lack of habituation, a maintained responsiveness to emotional stimuli. In addition, they found that the mindfulness trained group had fewer visits to the doctor for psychological reasons and increased overall well-being.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that mindfulness training help to maintain the adolescents’ attention to emotionally relevant stimuli. This may be helpful in maintaining socially appropriate responses to other peoples’ emotional expressions which would tend to improve social ability. This could be of great benefit during the awkward times of adolescence. In addition, the training appears to reduce psychological issues and improve the students’ well-being.

 

So, improve emotional responding in adolescents with school-based mindfulness training.

 

“Introducing mindfulness-based programs in schools and in everyday practice can have a life-long impact on the psychological, social, and cognitive well-being of children and teens. So go out and help your child to practice and enjoy simple mindfulness exercises when they are young.” – Courtney Ackerman

 

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

 

Sanger, K. L., Thierry, G., & Dorjee, D. (2018). Effects of school‐based mindfulness training on emotion processing and well‐being in adolescents: evidence from event‐related potentials. Developmental Science, 21(5), e12646. http://doi.org/10.1111/desc.12646

 

Abstract

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS

  • Mindfulness training was associated with maintained P3b mean amplitudes to facial target stimuli, indicating sustained sensitivity to socially relevant, affective stimuli.
  • Trained students reported higher well‐being despite mindfulness course engagement being correlated with greater stress awareness.
  • Self‐reported changes in empathy correlated significantly with changes in P3b to emotional faces across groups.

In a non‐randomized controlled study, we investigated the efficacy of a school‐based mindfulness curriculum delivered by schoolteachers to older secondary school students (16–18 years). We measured changes in emotion processing indexed by P3b event‐related potential (ERP) modulations in an affective oddball task using static human faces. ERPs were recorded to happy and sad face oddballs presented in a stimulus stream of frequent faces with neutral expression, before and after 8 weeks of mindfulness training. Whilst the mean amplitude of the P3b, an ERP component typically elicited by infrequent oddballs, decreased between testing sessions in the control group, it remained unchanged in the training group. Significant increases in self‐reported well‐being and fewer doctor visits for mental health support were also reported in the training group as compared to controls. The observed habituation to emotional stimuli in controls thus contrasted with maintained sensitivity in mindfulness‐trained students. These results suggest that in‐school mindfulness training for adolescents has scope for increasing awareness of socially relevant emotional stimuli, irrespective of valence, and thus may decrease vulnerability to depression.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6175003/

Mindfulness Promotes Health and Well-Being in Stressed College Students

Mindfulness Promotes Health and Well-Being in Stressed College Students

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

In the modern world education is a key for success. Where a high school education was sufficient in previous generations, a college degree is now required to succeed in the new knowledge-based economies. There is a lot of pressure on students to excel so that they can be admitted to the best universities and there is a lot of pressure on university students to excel so that they can get the best jobs after graduation. This is particularly true in highly rated, elite, universities. This stress might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s physical and mental health, well-being, and school performance.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

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

 

Abstract

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

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

 

Improve Teacher Mental Well-Being with Yoga

Improve Teacher Mental Well-Being with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga is a psychology—the whole practice helps us work with the nature of the mind, the nature of being a human, how emotions live in our bodies, how they affect our behavior and our minds,” – Ashley Turner

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like school teaching, burnout is all too prevalent. It frequently results from emotional exhaustion. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. This exhaustion produces a loss of enthusiasm, empathy, and compassion. Regardless of the reasons for burnout or its immediate presenting consequences, it is a threat to the effectiveness and mental health of teachers. Hence, preventing burnout in teachers is important.

 

Mindfulness techniques, including meditation, yoga, and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) are gaining increasing attention for the treatment of the symptoms of stress and burnout. They have been demonstrated to be helpful in reducing the psychological and physiological responses to stress and for treating and preventing burnout in a number of work environments. Yoga practice has the extra benefits of not only being mindfulness training but also as an exercise. Hence, it’s important to study the effects of yoga practice on the mental health of teachers.

 

In today’s Research News article “Increased Mental Well-Being and Reduced State Anxiety in Teachers After Participation in a Residential Yoga Program.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6083945/ ), Telles and colleagues recruited primary school teachers and assigned them to matched groups either receiving a residential yoga practice program or no-treatment. The residential yoga program consisted of 2 2-hour yoga practice sessions per day for 15 days along with theory presentations and discussion. Yoga practice included physical postures, meditation, regulated breathing exercises, and guided relaxation training. The teachers were measured before and after training for anxiety and mental well-being.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and to the no-treatment control group, the teachers who participated in the residential yoga program had significantly reduced anxiety levels and significantly improved mental well-being with moderate effect sizes. In this study there was not an active control condition, so conclusions must be tempered with the understanding that participant or experimenter bias might be responsible for the results. Nevertheless, the results are in line with previous findings from better controlled studies that yoga practice improves emotions and mental well-being. Hence, it would appear that yoga practice may be useful for lessening burnout in stressed teachers.

 

So, improve teacher mental well-being with yoga.

 

“providing educators with training in yoga- and mindfulness-based skills may have several beneficial effects for educators, including increases in calmness, mindfulness, well-being, and positive mood, improvements in classroom management, emotional reactivity, physical symptoms, blood pressure, and cortisol awakening response, and decreases in mind and body stress.” – Bethany Butzer

 

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

 

Telles, S., Gupta, R. K., Bhardwaj, A. K., Singh, N., Mishra, P., Pal, D. K., & Balkrishna, A. (2018). Increased Mental Well-Being and Reduced State Anxiety in Teachers After Participation in a Residential Yoga Program. Medical Science Monitor Basic Research, 24, 105–112. http://doi.org/10.12659/MSMBR.909200

 

Abstract

Background

Reducing stress in the workplace improves mental health. Teaching is of social importance, but it may receive inadequate recognition and rewards. The present study compared mental well-being and state anxiety in primary school teachers who practiced 15 days of yoga in a residential setting with those who continued their usual routine.

Material/Methods

We enrolled 236 primary school teachers to participate in the study. We assigned 118 primary school teachers (group mean ±S.D., age 41.5±6.0 years, 74 females) to the experimental group; they underwent 15 days of yoga training for 6 hours/day) in a residential yoga center. The non-yoga control group (group mean ±S.D., age 42.3±6.0 years, 79 females) consisted of 118 teachers who continued with their normal teaching routine.

Results

After 15 days in the residential yoga program, there was an increase in overall mental well-being (p<.001) and lower state anxiety (p<.01) (repeated-measures ANOVA, followed by post hoc multiple comparison tests). At baseline, the non-yoga control group had higher levels of state anxiety, presumably related to their remaining in the workplace.

Conclusions

The study was a 15-day, comparative, controlled trial. The results show that after 15 days of participation in the residential yoga program, primary school teachers increased all aspects of mental well-being and had reduced state anxiety.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6083945/

 

Improve the Emotional and Psychosocial Quality of Life of Grammar School Children with Yoga

Improve the Emotional and Psychosocial Quality of Life of Grammar School Children with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Studies show that mindfulness- and yoga-based skills, conscious breath work, and body awareness improve academic performance and emotional regulation. Mindfulness-based practices also reduce anxiety and increase attention. . . . Research also reveals that mindfulness strategies enhance executive function in kids, supporting positive behavioral changes. In addition, a yoga practice promotes confidence and strength along with compassion and self-acceptance.” – Kimberly Jordan Allen

 

Yoga practice has been shown to have a large number of beneficial effects on the psychological, emotional, and physical health of the individual and is helpful in the treatment of mental and physical illness. The acceptance of yoga practice has spread from the home and yoga studios to its application with children in schools. Studies of these school programs have found that yoga practice produces a wide variety of positive psychosocial and physical benefits.

 

Teachers also note improvements in their students following yoga practice. These include improved classroom behavior and social–emotional skills, concentration, mood, ability to function under pressure, social skills, and attention and lower levels of hyperactivity. In addition, school records, academic tests have shown that yoga practice produces improvements in student grades and academic performance. This, in turn, improves the classroom experience for the teachers. Hence there are very good reasons to further study the effects of yoga practice in school on grammar school children.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of mindfulness and yoga on quality of life for elementary school students and teachers: results of a randomized controlled school-based study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5903833/ ), Bazzano and colleagues recruited third grade students who screened positive for symptoms of anxiety and randomly assigned them to receive either an 8-week yoga/mindfulness training or to a no-treatment control condition. The yoga program occurred in 10 in-class 40-minute sessions and included postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation. The students were measured at the beginning, middle, and end of the 8-week intervention period for life satisfaction and childhood quality of life including physical, emotional, social, and school domains. In addition, teachers were measured for health-related quality of life.

 

They found that in the middle and after the yoga/mindfulness intervention the students had significant improvements in psychosocial and emotional quality of life. The teachers reported that after the program they were significantly more likely to include yoga practice in their classrooms. Hence, the brief yoga/mindfulness program was successful in improving the social and emotional life conditions for the children and these improvements were sufficiently noticeable that the teachers decided to continue employing yoga practice in the classroom after the program was completed.

 

These results are encouraging and suggest that even at a relatively young age and early in children’s school life practicing yoga in school improves their and their teachers’ lives. It should be noted that the comparison condition did not include any treatment. In future research an active control condition such as aerobic exercise should be included to determine if the effects are specific for yoga practice or might occur with any exercise program. Regardless, the program helped to improve the lives of anxious young students.

 

So, improve the emotional and psychosocial quality of life of grammar school children with Yoga.

 

“Yoga in my classroom creates a sense of community. They are more of a unified group.  Something about yoga brings the students together, almost like team building.” – YogaCalm

 

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

 

Bazzano, A. N., Anderson, C. E., Hylton, C., & Gustat, J. (2018). Effect of mindfulness and yoga on quality of life for elementary school students and teachers: results of a randomized controlled school-based study. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 11, 81–89. http://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S157503

 

Abstract

Objective

To assess the impact of a yoga curriculum in an elementary school on student quality of life, and to assess teacher and staff perception of potential barriers to, and benefits of, introducing yoga and mindfulness into the classroom.

Methods

A randomized controlled trial was utilized to assess the impact of a brief intervention on third-grade students who screened positive for symptoms of anxiety. Students were randomized to an intervention group of 20 students receiving small-group yoga/mindfulness activities for 8 weeks between October 2016 and February 2017, and a control group of 32 students receiving care as usual. The Brief Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale-Peabody Treatment Progress Battery and the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL) served as outcomes. Teachers were invited to participate in two professional development sessions about introducing yoga and mindfulness into the classroom, and completed a survey following each of the sessions.

Results

In generalized estimating equation models adjusted for time, the yoga-based intervention was associated with a 14.17 unit increase in student emotional PedsQL (p-value 0.001) and a 7.43 unit increase in psychosocial PedsQL (p-value 0.01). Results were not attenuated by adjustment. Teachers and staff reported using yoga more frequently in the classroom following the second of two professional development sessions (p-value <0.05). Perceived barriers to introducing yoga to the classroom were similar at two data collection time points, while perceived benefits remained high.

Conclusion

The intervention was associated with a significant improvement in emotional and psychosocial quality of life in the intervention group when compared to the control group, suggesting that yoga/mindfulness interventions may improve symptoms of anxiety among students. Yoga/mindfulness activities may facilitate stress management among elementary school students and may be added as a complement to social and emotional learning activities.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5903833/