Reduce College Students Self-Criticism with Mindful Lovingkindness Training

Reduce College Students Self-Criticism with Mindful Lovingkindness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“What’s so amazing about mindfulness practice is we can use mindfulness to be aware when we have those self-critical voices, and we can label that voice as “judging”. We can notice when we have those judging voices because we have a mindfulness practice that allows us to have quite a bit more self-awareness, more ability to regulate emotions, and all of the positive things that come with the mindfulness practice.“ – Diana Winston

 

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. This is particularly true in very competitive Asian countries like Korea. This can lead to extreme self-criticism where the individual is never happy with themselves producing great unhappiness and psychological distress.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological reactions to stress and resilience in the face of stress. It has also been found to promote the well-being of college students. Mindfulness has been found to improve self-esteem.  One understudied meditation technique is Loving Kindness Meditation. It is designed to develop kindness and compassion to oneself and others. The individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being. Although Loving Kindness Meditation has been practiced for centuries, it has received very little scientific research attention. But it may be effective in counteracting the effects of stress and self-criticism.

 

In today’s Research News article “Psychological and Physiological Effects of the Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion Program on Highly Self-Critical University Students in South Korea.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.585743/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1463957_69_Psycho_20201022_arts_A ) Noh and colleagues recruited healthy Korean college students who were high in self-criticism and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive a Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion program. The training consisted of 8 2-hour sessions over 6 weeks of mindfulness meditation and Loving Kindness Meditation. They were measured before and after training and one and three months later for self-criticism, self-reassurance, mindfulness, compassion, shame, anxiety, depression, fears of compassion, satisfaction with life, and heart rate variability.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, the Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion group had significantly higher self-reassurance, mindfulness, compassion, and satisfaction with life, and significantly lower self-criticism, shame, anxiety, depression, and fears of compassion. These improvements continued to be present 1 and 3 months after the completion of training. In addition, the Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion group had significantly higher heart rate variability.

 

The interpretation of these results has to be tempered with the knowledge that the comparison, control, condition was passive. This opens the study up to a number of potential confoundings. Nevertheless, the results are similar to those of prior research that found that mindfulness training produces higher self-reassurance, compassion, and satisfaction with life, and lower self-criticism, shame, anxiety, and depression. Hence, the current study suggests that Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion training produces improved psychological health in highly self-critical college students. In addition, the increased heart rate variability observed suggests that the trained students had greater physiological relaxation, probably indicating a great resistance to the effects of stress.

 

This is important for the well-being of college students. They are under great pressure to perform especially in Asian countries like Korea. Combining that with high levels of self-criticism is a formula for psychological and physical problems. The kind of mindfulness and loving kindness training employed here appears to be able to markedly counteract the deleterious effects of these forces and produce greater relaxation and overall well-being.

 

So, reduce college students’ self-criticism with Mindful Lovingkindness training.

 

Self-criticism is an unhelpful habit that can sometimes be destructive and cause emotional ill-health. . . Through practicing mindfulness and self-compassion you can loosen up old self-critical habits that may have been present from childhood and develop a kinder, more appreciative way of being with yourself.” – Linda Hall

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Noh S and Cho H (2020) Psychological and Physiological Effects of the Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion Program on Highly Self-Critical University Students in South Korea. Front. Psychol. 11:585743. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.585743

 

Objectives: Self-critical behavior is especially relevant for university students who face academic and non-academic stressors, leading to negative outcomes such as mental distress and psychopathologies. To address this behavior, mindfulness and compassion are important factors to decrease self-criticism and ensure positive outcomes. This study examined the psychological and physiological effects of an intervention, the Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion Program (MLCP), on highly self-critical university students in South Korea.

Methods: Thirty-eight university students with a high level of self-criticism were assigned to an MLCP group (n = 18) or waitlist (WL) group (n = 20). Self-report measures of self-criticism, self-reassurance, psychological distress, and other mental health variables were completed, and the physiological measure of heart rate variability (HRV) was conducted before and after the intervention with both groups. In addition, 1- and 3-month follow-up assessments were conducted using self-report measurements.

Results: Compared to the WL group, participants in the MLCP group experienced significantly greater reductions in self-criticism and psychological distress, and a greater increase in self-reassurance, mental health, and HRV. The improvements in the self-report measures were maintained when assessed 1 and 3 months later.

Conclusions: MLCP could be a promising intervention for alleviating self-criticism and increasing self-reassurance among self-critical individuals.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.585743/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1463957_69_Psycho_20201022_arts_A

Improve the Psychological Health of Health Care Professionals with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Health of Health Care Professionals with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The front lines for health care providers may feel overwhelming. . . turning to mindfulness practice can help us settle, help us get out of all that thinking for a moment. We can try to settle down and maybe give ourselves a little rest or see a situation with a little different clarity. “ – Mindful

 

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. 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. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. Hence, burnout contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses.

 

Preventing the negative psychological consequences of stress in healthcare professionals has to be a priority. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress and improve well-being. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a mindfulness training program that was developed to help deal with stress. MBSR  consists of discussion, meditation, yoga and body scan practices. The evidence has been accumulating regarding MBSR’s effectiveness for the treatment of healthcare professionals, so it makes sense to summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on the Psychological Functioning of Healthcare Professionals: a Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7511255/ ) Kriakous and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the benefits of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for the psychological health of healthcare workers. They identified 30 published research studies.

 

They report that the published research studies found that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) significantly reduced healthcare workers’ levels of perceived stress, anxiety, and depression and increased mindfulness and self-compassion. Mindfulness practices have been previously reported to decrease perceived stress, anxiety, and depression and increase self-compassion in a wide variety of healthy and ill individuals. The present research summarizes these benefits for stressed healthcare professionals. These benefits of mindfulness training are important for reducing burnout, improving the psychological health of healthcare workers, and maintaining the workforce, and thereby improving the levels of care delivered to patients.

 

So, improve the psychological health of health care professionals with mindfulness.

 

health care workforce. There is increasing evidence that learning to practice mindfulness can result in decreased burnout and improved well-being. Mindfulness is a useful way of cultivating self-kindness and compassion, including by bringing increased awareness to and acceptance of those things that are beyond our control.” – Kate Fitzpatrick

 

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

 

Kriakous, S. A., Elliott, K. A., Lamers, C., & Owen, R. (2020). The Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on the Psychological Functioning of Healthcare Professionals: a Systematic Review. Mindfulness, 1–28. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01500-9

 

Abstract

Objectives

Burnout and occupational stress are frequently experienced by healthcare professionals (HCPs). Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) has been found to improve the psychological health outcomes of HCPs. To date, systematic reviews and meta-analyses have primarily focused upon empirical investigations into the reduction of stress amongst HCPs using MBSR and are limited to empirical studies published before December 2019. This systematic review aimed to update the current evidence base and broaden our understanding of the effectiveness of MBSR on improving the psychological functioning of HCPs.

Methods

Three electronic databases (Medline, Psych Info and Web of Science) were searched without time frame restrictions. Quantitative studies included randomised controlled trials, clinical controlled trials, pre-post designs and studies with up to a 12-month follow-up period. All studies included in the review employed a MBSR programme, standardised measures of psychological functioning and qualified HCPs as participants.

Results

Using PRISMA guidelines thirty studies were included in the review. The reviewed literature suggested that MBSR was effective in reducing HCPs experiences of anxiety, depression and stress. MBSR was also found to be effective in increasing HCP levels of mindfulness and self-compassion. However, MBSR did not appear as effective in reducing burnout or improving resilience amongst HCPs. Abbreviated MBSR programmes were found to be as effective as the traditional 8-week MBSR programmes.

Conclusions

MBSR is an effective intervention which can help improve the psychological functioning of HCPs. Recommendations include improving the overall quality of the studies by employing more robust controlled designs with randomisation, increased sample sizes with heterogeneous samples, and making active comparisons between interventions used.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7511255/

 

Improve Mental Health with Mindfulness

Improve Mental Health with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness is recommended as a treatment for people with mental ill-health as well as those who want to improve their mental health and wellbeing.” – Mental Health Foundation

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that the development of mindfulness has positive benefits for the individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual life. Mindfulness appears to be beneficial both for healthy people and for people suffering from a myriad of mental and physical illnesses. It appears to be beneficial across ages, from children, to adolescents, to the elderly. And it appears to be beneficial across genders, personalities, race, and ethnicity. The breadth and depth of benefits is unprecedented. There is no other treatment or practice that has been shown to come anyway near the range of mindfulness’ positive benefits.

 

There is a vast array of techniques for the development of mindfulness. It is important to establish the most efficacious techniques and their dosages for the treatment of common mental illnesses. It is particularly important, for reasons of affordability, to employ techniques that qualify for insurance reimbursement.

 

In today’s Research News article “Insurance-Reimbursable Mindfulness for Safety-Net Primary Care Patients: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7009938/ ) Gawande and colleagues recruited adults with a non-severe mental health diagnosis and randomly assigned them to receive either a high or low dose mindfulness training. The high dose training consisted of 8 weeks of twice a week 1-hour mindfulness trainings along with daily 30-45 minutes of home practice. The mindfulness training was adapted from Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) including meditation, trauma-informed practices, and self-compassion training. The low dose mindfulness training consisted of a single 60-minute introduction to mindfulness and encouragement to practice mindfulness. They were measured before and after training for anxiety, depression, perceived stress, disease self-efficacy, mindfulness, self-compassion, and perceived control of disease.

 

The most common disorders were anxiety disorders in 37% and depression in 32% of the participants. They found that in comparison to baseline the high dose mindfulness group had significant reductions in anxiety, depression, and perceived stress and significant increases in disease self-efficacy, mindfulness, and self-compassion. The low dose mindfulness group had only a significant reduction in perceived stress. The high dose mindfulness group had significant greater increases in mindfulness and self-compassion and decreases in anxiety than the low dose group. Importantly, the high dose mindfulness intervention was accepted for reimbursement by insurance companies.

 

The study is important in that it demonstrated that insurance would cover the high dose treatment. This is important for making the treatment affordable for insured clients. The study demonstrated as have a variety of other research studies that mindfulness training produces significant reductions in anxiety, depression, and perceived stress and significant increases in disease self-efficacy, mindfulness, and self-compassion. But the study had a unique control condition of a low dose mindfulness training. The high dose intervention produced significant improvements in mental illness disease symptoms that were for the most part better than those of the low dose. This establishes that participant expectancies and positive biases toward mindfulness training cannot account for the improvements. It also demonstrates that greater doses of mindfulness training produce greater benefits for patients with non-severe mental health issues.

 

So, improve mental health with mindfulness.

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Gawande, R., Pine, E., Griswold, T., Creedon, T., Vallejo, Z., Rosenbaum, E., Lozada, A., & Schuman-Olivier, Z. (2019). Insurance-Reimbursable Mindfulness for Safety-Net Primary Care Patients: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Mindfulness, 10(9), 1744–1759. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-019-01116-8

 

Abstract

Objectives:

Mindfulness is effective for reducing anxiety and depression and increasing chronic disease self-management. An accessible, insurance-reimbursable model for implementation in patient-centered medical homes within US healthcare systems has promise for patients with multi-morbid conditions. Clarifying both the dose needed to impact anxiety, depression and self-management, and the design requirements for accessible primary care implementation, is essential.

Methods:

We tested feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of Mindfulness Training for Primary Care (MTPC), an 8-week, referral-based, insurance-reimbursable mindfulness program integrated within primary care, compared with a Low-Dose Comparator (LDC), consisting of a 60-minute mindfulness introduction plus referral to community and digital resources. Outcome measures were assessed at baseline and 8 weeks. MTPC is trauma-informed, incorporates mindfulness-oriented behavior change skills, and is designed to target anxiety, depression, stress, and chronic illness selfmanagement. Participants schedule a PCP visit to co-create a self-management action plan during week 6.

Results:

Primary care providers (PCP) referred 344 patients over 14 months. Eighty-one participants with DSM-V anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, trauma- and stress-related disorders participated in this pilot randomized-controlled comparative effectiveness trial [MTPC (n=54); LDC (n=27)]. These data suggest that MTPC was more effective than LDC for reducing anxiety (p=0.01), enhancing mindfulness (p=0.02) and self-compassion (p=0.001), and for catalyzing selfmanagement behavior change through action plan initiation (OR=4.34, p=0.03).

Conclusions:

MTPC was successfully integrated into a health system, was billed to insurance, and was acceptable to a diverse primary care population. Replication with a larger study and further accessibility adaptations are needed to confirm and expand these pilot results.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7009938/

 

Novelty Seeking Lowers the Ability of Mindfulness Training to Increase Self-Compassion.

Novelty Seeking Lowers the Ability of Mindfulness Training to Increase Self-Compassion.

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness is the foundation of self-compassion insofar as we can only respond self-compassionately when we know we are struggling.” – Pittman McGehee

 

One of the more remarkable aspects of Western culture is that in general people do not like themselves. We are constantly comparing ourselves to others and since there can only one best, virtually everyone falls short. So, we constantly criticize ourselves for not being the smartest, the swiftest, the strongest, the most liked, the most handsome or beautiful. If there wasn’t something wrong with us, then we would be the best. As a result, we become focused and obsessed with our flaws. This can lead to anxiety and worry and poorer mental health.

 

Mindfulness promotes experiencing and accepting ourselves as we are, which is a direct antidote to seeing ourselves in comparison to others and as we wish to be. In other words, mindfulness promotes self-compassion. Self-compassion involves being warm and understanding about ourselves rather than self-criticism. If we have that attitude, we will like ourselves more and suffer less. So, it is important to study what factors affect the ability of mindfulness training to increase self-compassion.

 

In today’s Research News article “More Purpose in Life and Less Novelty Seeking Predict Improvements in Self-Compassion During a Mindfulness-Based Intervention: The EXMIND Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7146234/ ) Akase and colleagues recruited adult participants and randomly assigned them to receive either 8 weekly mindfulness training sessions or 4 weeks of mindfulness training followed by 4 weeks of existential approach. Both groups required daily home practice. The mindfulness training included raisin exercise, mindful breathing, body scan, walking meditation, and sitting meditation. The participants were measured before, at 4 weeks and after training for mindfulness, self-compassion, temperament, reading ability, depression, parental bonding, and purpose in life.

 

They found that mindfulness training produced significantly increased self-compassion at 4 weeks and significantly greater increased self-compassion at the end of training. They also found that the higher the levels at baseline of purpose in life and the lower the levels of novelty seeking the greater the change in self-compassion produced by mindfulness training. In addition, they found that the higher the levels of purpose in life, but not novelty seeking, the higher the levels of self-compassion.

 

The findings found as has been seen in previous research that mindfulness training improves self-compassion. This is important as higher levels of self-compassion are associated with better mental health, greater resistance to stress, and less burnout. The current study found also that the effectiveness of mindfulness training in increasing self-compassion was best in participants who were low in novelty seeking and high in purpose in life.

 

That self-compassion and purpose in life are related may be due to conceptual overlap between the two. Indeed, many of the questions in the scales measuring purpose in life and self-compassion are very similar. Novelty seeking, on the other hand, is not directly related to self-compassion, rather it appears to modulate the effectiveness of mindfulness training to improve self-compassion. It was speculated that novelty seeking makes it more difficult to disengage from spontaneous thoughts (mind wandering) during mindfulness exercises and thereby decreases the effectiveness of mindfulness training.

 

Hence, novelty seeking lowers the ability of mindfulness training to increase self-compassion.

 

The growing movements of self-compassion and mindfulness are linked by the growing awareness and evidence from a huge body of research that indicate that treating ourselves (and others) with kindness not only feels better but also allows us to make healthy changes and face new challenges with more success.” – Samantha Price

 

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

 

Akase, M., Terao, T., Kawano, N., Sakai, A., Hatano, K., Shirahama, M., Hirakawa, H., Kohno, K., & Ishii, N. (2020). More Purpose in Life and Less Novelty Seeking Predict Improvements in Self-Compassion During a Mindfulness-Based Intervention: The EXMIND Study. Frontiers in psychiatry, 11, 252. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00252

 

Abstract

Objectives

Recently, a 4-week mindfulness-based intervention followed by a 4-week existential approach was found to be as effective for increasing self-compassion as an 8-week mindfulness-based intervention. The purpose of the present study was to identify the factors that predicted change in self-compassion during the 8-week mindfulness-based intervention.

Methods

Fifty-seven of the 61 completers of the 8-week mindfulness-based intervention provided baseline, 4-week, and 8-week self-compassion scale scores. The mean age of the 47 females and 10 males was 49.6 years. Pearson’s correlation coefficients were generated on the associations between the change of total self-compassion scale scores from baseline to 8 weeks with age; gender; and the baseline scores on the Temperament Evaluation of Memphis, Pisa and San Diego Auto-questionnaire, Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI), Mini-Mental State Examination, Japanese Adult Reading Test, Young Mania Rating Scale, Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, Parental Bonding Instrument, and purpose in life (PIL). Multiple regression analysis was performed to identify the predictors of the change in total self-compassion scale scores.

Results

Novelty seeking (TCI) was significantly and negatively associated with the change in total self-compassion scale scores, whereas the PIL scores were significantly and positively associated with the change in total self-compassion scale scores. Novelty seeking was not significantly associated with baseline, 4-week, or 8-week total self-compassion scale scores, whereas the PIL scores were significantly and positively associated with baseline, 4-week, and 8-week total self-compassion scale scores. The limitation of the present study was a relatively small number of subjects which deterred a more sophisticated analysis of the pathways involved.

Conclusions

The present findings suggest that more PIL and less novelty seeking predict improvements in self-compassion during mindfulness-based interventions, although novelty seeking might substantially predict the improvement but self-compassion scale and PIL might somewhat conceptually overlap.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7146234/

 

Improve Compassion and Self-Compassion in Health Care Professionals with Mindfulness

Improve Compassion and Self-Compassion in Health Care Professionals with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Burgeoning research is showing that self-compassion skills can be of particular benefit to health care professionals, allowing them to experience greater satisfaction in their caregiving roles, less stress, and more emotional resilience.” – CMSC

 

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. 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. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. Hence, burnout 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 and improve well-being. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep.

 

One way that mindfulness may help reduce burnout is by improving self-compassion. Self-compassion is “treating oneself with kindness and understanding when facing suffering, seeing one’s failures as part of the human condition, and having a balanced awareness of painful thoughts and emotions” (Kristin Neff). This may reduce the perfectionism and self-judgement that is common among physicians and thereby reduce burnout.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness, Compassion, and Self-Compassion Among Health Care Professionals: What’s New? A Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01683/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1401267_69_Psycho_20200811_arts_A) Conversano and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effects of mindfulness on compassion and self-compassion and the symptoms of burnout in health care professionals. They identified 57 published studies consisting of: “randomized controlled trials (4), studies with pre-post measurements (23), cross-sectional studies (12), cohort studies (11), and qualitative studies (7)”.

 

They report that the published research found that the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program was effective in increasing mindfulness and self-compassion and reducing burnout, stress, anxiety and depression. Other mindfulness trainings were effective in increasing mindfulness and self-compassion and reducing negative emotions and compassion fatigue. Compassion training programs were effective in increasing mindfulness, positive emotions, and self-compassion and reducing interpersonal conflicts, negative emotions and compassion fatigue.

 

This research summary suggests that mindfulness training and compassion training are both useful in combatting the stress of healthcare work and reducing potential burnout of these professionals. The large number of studies employing different mindfulness and compassion training programs makes a strong case for the use of mindfulness and compassion training to reduce the likelihood of burnout of health care professionals and thereby improve the quality of the delivery of health care to the patients. This all suggests that mindfulness and compassion training should be routinely incorporated in the training and continuing education of healthcare workers,

 

Improve compassion and self-compassion in health care professionals with mindfulness.

 

health care professionals who completed the MBSR program reported an increase in feelings of self-compassion and reduced stress.” – Elaine Mead

 

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

 

Conversano C, Ciacchini R, Orrù G, Di Giuseppe M, Gemignani A and Poli A (2020) Mindfulness, Compassion, and Self-Compassion Among Health Care Professionals: What’s New? A Systematic Review. Front. Psychol. 11:1683. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01683

 

Health care professionals (HCPs) are a population at risk for high levels of burnout and compassion fatigue. The aim of the present systematic review was to give an overview on recent literature about mindfulness and compassion characteristics of HCPs, while exploring the effectiveness of techniques, involving the two aspects, such as MBSR or mindfulness intervention and compassion fatigue-related programs. A search of databases, including PubMed and PsycINFO, was conducted following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines and the methodological quality for this systematic review was appraised using AMSTAR-2 (A MeaSurement Tool to Assess systematic Reviews-2). The number of articles that met the inclusion criteria was 58 (4 RCTs, 24 studies with pre-post measurements, 12 cross-sectional studies, 11 cohort studies and 7 qualitative studies). MBSR intervention was effective at improving, and maintaining, mindfulness and self-compassion levels and to improve burnout, depression, anxiety, stress. The most frequently employed interventional strategies were mindfulness-related trainings that were effective at improving mindfulness and self-compassion, but not compassion fatigue, levels. Compassion-related interventions have been shown to improve self-compassion, mindfulness and interpersonal conflict levels. Mindfulness was effective at improving negative affect and compassion fatigue, while compassion satisfaction may be related to cultivation of positive affect. This systematic review summarized the evidence regarding mindfulness- and compassion-related qualities of HCPs as well as potential effects of MBSR, mindfulness-related and compassion-related interventions on professionals’ psychological variables like mindfulness, self-compassion and quality of life. Combining structured mindfulness and compassion cultivation trainings may enhance the effects of interventions, limit the variability of intervention protocols and improve data comparability of future research.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01683/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1401267_69_Psycho_20200811_arts_A

 

Improve Recovery from Substance Abuse with Rolling Mindfulness Training

Improve Recovery from Substance Abuse with Rolling Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

By facilitating conscious awareness with a nonjudgmental perspective, mindfulness can decrease the vicious circles of anxiety, fear, anger, sadness, depression, guilt, regret, and shame that make so many recovering people vulnerable to relapse.” – Dan Mager

 

Substance abuse is a major health and social problem. There are estimated 22.2 million people in the U.S. with substance dependence. It is estimated that worldwide there are nearly ¼ million deaths yearly as a result of illicit drug use which includes unintentional overdoses, suicides, HIV and AIDS, and trauma. Obviously, there is a need to find effective methods to prevent and treat substance abuse. There are a number of programs that are successful at stopping the drug abuse, including the classic 12-step program emblematic of Alcoholics Anonymous. Unfortunately, the majority of drug and/or alcohol abusers’ relapse and return to substance abuse. Hence, it is important to find an effective method to treat substance abuse and prevent relapse.

 

Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve recovery from various addictions. Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) has been developed to specifically assist in relapse prevention and has been shown to be effective. “MBRP integrates mindfulness practices with cognitive-behavioral Relapse Prevention therapy and aims to help participants increase awareness and acceptance of difficult thoughts, feelings, and sensations to create changes in patterns of reactive behavior that commonly lead to relapse. Mindfulness training in MBRP provides clients with a new way of processing situational cues and monitoring internal reactions to contingencies, and this awareness supports proactive behavioral choices in the face of high-risk relapse situation.” – Grow et al. 2015

 

Typically, Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) is administered with a group together from start to end. In practice in residential treatment programs, however, individuals enter treatment at different times. It would be important to examine whether MBRP with rolling admissions, where participants enter the therapy program at different times, is effective in treating substance abuse patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “An open trial of rolling admission mindfulness-based relapse prevention (Rolling MBRP): feasibility, acceptability, dose-response relations, and mechanisms.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6660179/) Roos and colleagues recruited residents in a short-term residential substance abuse disorders treatment program. They were provided 50 minute, twice per week, for 8 weeks group Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) program. Participants could enter the program at any time during a 10-month period. They were measured before and after treatment for abstinent days, dependence severity, self-compassion, mindfulness, mental health, craving, and self-efficacy.

 

They found that the participants completed, on average, 3.69 sessions and the participants rated the sessions as very helpful. They found that in comparison to baseline and patients who did not participate, the rolling Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) group had significantly decreased cravings, and increased mental health, mindfulness, and self-compassion. In addition, for attendees, the greater the amounts of formal and informal mindfulness practice, the greater the improvements in cravings, mental health, mindfulness, and self-compassion.

 

Prior studies demonstrated that mindfulness training improves mental health and self-compassion and is effective in improving the mental health of patients with a variety of addictions and in preventing substance abuse relapse. The present study is important in demonstrating that Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) offered on a rolling basis is also effective. Such a rolling entry treatment program is better suited to the intake of patients in residential substance abuse treatment programs and makes MBRP more useable in these programs.

 

So, improve recovery from substance abuse with rolling mindfulness training.

 

Learning about your personal triggers, developing the ability to breathe through discomfort, and creating a mindfulness based lifestyle in recovery can be lifesavers in both early sobriety and throughout the rest of your life.” -Clear Mind Treatment

 

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

 

Roos, C., Kirouac, M., Stein, E., Wilson, A., Bowen, S., & Witkiewitz, K. (2019). An open trial of rolling admission mindfulness-based relapse prevention (Rolling MBRP): feasibility, acceptability, dose-response relations, and mechanisms. Mindfulness, 10(6), 1062–1073. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-1054-5

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) is an effective treatment for substance use disorders (SUD). However, evidence is primarily based on studies of closed groups, and few studies support flexible formats of MBRP, such as rolling groups. This nonrandomized, open trial evaluated feasibility, acceptability, dose-response relations, and mechanisms of rolling admission MBRP (“Rolling MBRP”) offered as part of short-term residential treatment for SUD. Rolling MBRP was developed prior to the trial through an iterative process over several years. Participants included 109 adults (46% female, 74.3% racial/ethnic minorities, mean age=36.40). Rolling MBRP was offered to all patients in the program 2x/week and attendance was tracked. Outcomes were craving, self-efficacy, mental health, mindfulness, and self-compassion at discharge. Self-reported out-of-session mindfulness practice was examined as a mediator of attendance-outcome relations. Analyses involved multiple regression and mediation models. Feasibility was demonstrated by good attendance rates. Acceptability was demonstrated by high engagement in mindfulness practice and high satisfaction ratings. Total sessions attended did not predict outcomes at discharge. However, attending 2+ sessions (versus 1 or none) significantly predicted better mental health and higher mindfulness at discharge, and these effects were mediated by informal and formal mindfulness practice. Total sessions attended had significant indirect effects on craving, self-compassion, mindfulness, and mental health, via mindfulness practice. Results support the feasibility and acceptability of Rolling MBRP and suggest mindfulness practice may be a key mechanism driving effects of MBRP on other key mechanisms during the recovery process, such as decreased craving and improved mental health.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6660179/

 

Reduce the Risk of Major Depression Relapse with Mindfulness

Reduce the Risk of Major Depression Relapse with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

a growing body of research is pointing to an intervention that appears to help prevent relapse by altering thought patterns without side effects: mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or MBCT.” – Stacy Lu

 

Clinically diagnosed depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. Major depression can be quite debilitating. Depression can be difficult to treat and is usually treated with anti-depressive medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. But drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time. In addition, many patients who achieve remission have relapses and recurrences of the depression.

 

Relapsing into depression is a terribly difficult situation. The patients are suffering and nothing appears to work to relieve their intense depression. Suicide becomes a real possibility. So, it is imperative that other treatments be identified that can relieve the suffering. Mindfulness training is an alternative treatment for depression. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs failMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was specifically developed to treat depression. MBCT involves mindfulness training, containing sitting, walking and body scan meditations, and cognitive therapy that attempts to teach patients to distinguish between thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and behaviors, and to recognize irrational thinking styles and how they affect behavior.

 

There has been considerable research demonstrating that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is effective in treating depression.  In today’s Research News article “The effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy on risk and protective factors of depressive relapse – a randomized wait-list controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7275325/), Schanche and colleagues investigate the ability of  MBCT to reduce risk factors associated with relapse in patients with major depressive disorder.

 

They recruited adult patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder who had at least 3 depressive episodes and who were currently in remission. They were randomly assigned to be on a wait list or to receive 8 weekly 2-hour sessions of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). They were measured before and after training for rumination, emotion regulation, anxiety, self-compassion, mindfulness, and depression.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list group after Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) there were significant reductions in rumination, anxiety, emotional reactivity to stress and depression and significant increases in emotion regulation, self-compassion and mindfulness. Hence, MBCT significantly improved the psychological well-being of these patients.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) produces a reduction in the types of negative emotional symptoms that could promote a depressive relapse and an increase in factors that could promote resistance to relapse especially the ability to effectively cope with their emotions and compassion for themselves. Mindfulness training has been repeatedly shown in the past to reduce rumination, anxiety, emotional reactivity to stress and depression and increase emotion regulation and self-compassion. The present study demonstrates that these benefits occur in patients in remission from major depressive disorder. This suggests that MBCT is effective in improving the major depressive disorder patients psychological state in a way that suggests that they would be resistant to relapse in the future.

 

So, reduce the risk of major depression relapse with mindfulness.

 

MBCT and CT attempt to reduce the risk of relapse by promoting different skill sets. CT promotes challenging dysfunctional thinking and increasing physical activity level. MBCT promotes nonjudgmental monitoring of moment-by-moment experience, and decentering from thoughts or seeing thoughts as transient mental phenomena and not necessarily valid.” – American Mindfulness Research Association

 

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

 

Elisabeth Schanche, Jon Vøllestad, Endre Visted, Julie Lillebostad Svendsen, Berge Osnes, Per Einar Binder, Petter Franer, Lin Sørensen. The effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy on risk and protective factors of depressive relapse – a randomized wait-list controlled trial. BMC Psychol. 2020; 8: 57. Published online 2020 Jun 5. doi: 10.1186/s40359-020-00417-1

 

Abstract

Background

The aim of this randomized wait-list controlled trial was to explore the effects of Mindfulness–Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) on risk and protective factors for depressive relapse within the domains of cognition, emotion and self-relatedness.

Methods

Sixty-eight individuals with recurrent depressive disorder were randomized to MBCT or a wait-list control condition (WLC).

Results

Completers of MBCT (N = 26) improved significantly on measures assessing risk and protective factors of recurrent depression compared to WLC (N = 30) on measures of rumination (d = 0.59, p = .015), emotion regulation (d = 0.50, p = .028), emotional reactivity to stress (d = 0.32, p = .048), self-compassion (d = 1.02, p < .001), mindfulness (d = 0.59, p = .010), and depression (d = 0.40, p = .018). In the Intention To Treat sample, findings were attenuated, but there were still significant results on measures of rumination, self-compassion and depression.

Conclusions

Findings from the present trial contribute to evidence that MBCT can lead to reduction in risk factors of depressive relapse, and strengthening of factors known to be protective of depressive relapse. The largest changes were found in the domain of self-relatedness, in the form of large effects on the participants’ ability to be less self-judgmental and more self-compassionate.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7275325/

 

Improve Health Care Professional Self-Compassion with Mindfulness

Improve Health Care Professional Self-Compassion with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness is especially suited to physicians, because it can help counteract the worrying, perfectionism and self-judgment that are so common among doctors.” – WellMD

 

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. 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. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. Hence, burnout 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 and improve well-being. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep.

 

One way that mindfulness may help reduce burnout is by improving self-compassion. Self-compassion is “treating oneself with kindness and understanding when facing suffering, seeing one’s failures as part of the human condition, and having a balanced awareness of painful thoughts and emotions” (Kristin Neff). This may reduce the perfectionism and self-judgement that is common among physicians and thereby reduce burnout.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Mindfulness-Based Interventions on Self-compassion in Health Care Professionals: a Meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7223423/), Wasson and colleagues review summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of mindfulness training in improving self-compassion in physicians. They identified 28 published research studies.

 

They found that the published research reports that mindfulness-based interventions produced significant improvements in self-compassion in a variety of health care professionals. The effects sizes were moderate and there were no indications of publication bias. These results are important as having compassion for oneself is a prerequisite to having true compassion for others and this is essential for patient treatment. In addition, self-compassion may inoculate the health care worker from burnout. Hence, mindfulness training is important for health care professionals.

 

So, improve health care professional self-compassion with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness is growing in popularity as a way of promoting self-compassion among physicians. “This is all about being aware and in tune with yourself, learning to listen to your body and your mind so you know what you need and can give that to yourself.” – Kevin Teoh

 

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

 

Rachel S. Wasson, Clare Barratt, William H. O’Brien, Effects of Mindfulness-Based Interventions on Self-compassion in Health Care Professionals: a Meta-analysis. Mindfulness (N Y) 2020 Mar 5 : 1–21. doi: 10.1007/s12671-020-01342-5

 

Abstract

Objectives

Health care professionals have elevated rates of burnout and compassion fatigue which are correlated with poorer quality of life and patient care, and inversely correlated with self-compassion. Primary studies have evaluated the extent to which mindfulness-based interventions increase self-compassion with contradictory findings. A meta-analytic review of the literature was conducted to quantitatively synthesize the effects of mindfulness-based interventions on self-compassion among health care professionals.

Methods

Twenty-eight treatment outcome studies were identified eligible for inclusion. Five cumulative effect sizes were calculated using random-effects models to evaluate differences of changes in self-compassion for treatment and control groups. Within and between group comparisons were evaluated. Sub-group and moderator analyses were conducted to explore potential moderating variables.

Results

Twenty-seven articles (k = 29, N = 1020) were utilized in the pre-post-treatment meta-analysis. Fifteen samples (52%) included health care professionals and fourteen (48%) professional health care students. Results showed a moderate effect size between pre-post-treatment comparisons (g = .61, 95% CI = .47 to .76) for self-compassion and a strong effect size for pre-treatment to follow-up (g = .76, 95% CI = .41 to 1.12). The effect size comparing post-treatment versus post-control was moderate. One exploratory moderator analysis was significant, with stronger effects for interventions with a retreat component.

Conclusions

Findings suggest mindfulness-based interventions improve self-compassion in health care professionals. Additionally, a variety of mindfulness-based programs may be useful for employees and trainees. Future studies with rigorous methodology evaluating effects on self-compassion and patient care from mindfulness-based interventions are warranted to extend findings and explore moderators.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7223423/

 

Reduce Stress and Increase Self-Compassion in Medical Students with Online Mindfulness Training

Reduce Stress and Increase Self-Compassion in Medical Students with Online Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

What we found should encourage even the busiest medical students and physicians. There are shorter, sustainable ways to bring meditation into your life, and they can help you reduce stress and depression and improve your medical study and practice.” – Periel Shapiro

 

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 “Determining the feasibility and effectiveness of brief online mindfulness training for rural medical students: a pilot study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7137339/), Moore and colleagues recruited medical students focusing on rural health care who were undergoing training in widespread rural healthcare facilities. They had them complete an 8-week online mindfulness training program. They were measured before and after training and 4 months later for amount of mindfulness practice, perceived stress, self-compassion, and compassion. In addition, they submitted a self-reflective essay on how the mindfulness training program affected them.

 

They found that at the end of training and at the 4-month follow-up there was a significant decrease in perceived stress and increase in self-compassion. The greater the perceived stress and the lower the self-compassion at baseline, the greater the change after training. The essays revealed that although the students found the program valuable, they had difficulty in engaging in the practice amid their busy schedules. The students also commented that the program improved their self-awareness, self-compassion. and performance, and reduced their stress levels.

 

The results are compatible with prior research that mindfulness training decreases perceived stress and increases self-compassion. These benefits would likely contribute to reducing burnout during their education and perhaps later in their careers. Importantly, the study demonstrated that mindfulness training can be successfully delivered to medical students over the internet. This latter point is particularly important as the students were spread out in disparate rural communities and so in-person training was impossible. This underscores that importance of implementing the training over the internet.

 

So, reduce stress and increase self-compassion in medical students with online mindfulness training.

 

mindfulness training positively influences the way students approach and reflect on their well-being and education within the medical education context.” – Alice Malpass

 

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

 

Moore, S., Barbour, R., Ngo, H., Sinclair, C., Chambers, R., Auret, K., Hassed, C., & Playford, D. (2020). Determining the feasibility and effectiveness of brief online mindfulness training for rural medical students: a pilot study. BMC medical education, 20(1), 104. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-020-02015-6

 

Abstract

Background

We sought to determine the feasibility and effectiveness of a mindfulness training program, delivered online to medical students at a Rural Clinical School.

Methods

An 8-week online training program was delivered to penultimate-year medical students at an Australian Rural Clinical School during 2016. Using a mixed methods approach, we measured the frequency and duration of participants’ mindfulness meditation practice, and assessed changes in their perceived stress, self-compassion and compassion levels, as well as personal and professional attitudes and behaviours.

Results

Forty-seven participants were recruited to the study. 50% of participants were practising mindfulness meditation at least weekly by the end of the 8-week program, and 32% reported practising at least weekly 4 months following completion of the intervention. There was a statistically significant reduction in participants’ perceived stress levels and a significant increase in self-compassion at 4-month follow-up. Participants reported insights about the personal and professional impact of mindfulness meditation training as well as barriers to practice.

Conclusions

The results provide preliminary evidence that online training in mindfulness meditation can be associated with reduced stress and increased self-compassion in rural medical students. More rigorous research is required to establish concrete measures of feasibility of a mindfulness meditation program.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7137339/

 

Improve Self-Compassion with Psychophysiological Flexibility and Mindfulness

Improve Self-Compassion with Psychophysiological Flexibility and Mindfulness

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

self-compassion is strongly associated with emotional wellbeing, coping with life challenges, lower levels of anxiety and depression, healthy habits such as diet and exercise, and more satisfying personal relationships. It is an inner strength that enables us to be more fully human—to acknowledge our shortcomings, learn from them, and make necessary changes with an attitude of kindness and self-respect.” – Greater Good Science Center

 

One of the more remarkable aspects of Western culture is that in general people do not like themselves. We are constantly comparing ourselves to others and since there can only one best, virtually everyone falls short. So, we constantly criticize ourselves for not being the smartest, the swiftest, the strongest, the most liked, the most handsome or beautiful. If there wasn’t something wrong with us, then we would be the best. As a result, we become focused and obsessed with our flaws. This can lead to anxiety and worry.

 

Mindfulness promotes experiencing and accepting ourselves as we are, which is a direct antidote to seeing ourselves in comparison to others and as we wish to be. In other words, mindfulness promotes self-compassion. Self-compassion involves being warm and understanding about ourselves rather than self-criticism. If we have that attitude, we will like ourselves more and suffer less. So, it is important to study the mindfulness and self-compassion and their relationships with the ability to regulate emotional arousal.

 

In today’s Research News article “Is Dispositional Self-Compassion Associated With Psychophysiological Flexibility Beyond Mindfulness? An Exploratory Pilot Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00614/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1302118_69_Psycho_20200416_arts_A), Svendsen and colleagues recruited college students and had them complete scales measuring self-compassion, mindfulness, anxiety, and rumination. They also had their cardiac function measured at rest with an electrocardiogram (ECG). This was used to calculate the vagally mediated heart rate variability as a measure of psychophysiological flexibility. It measures the interplay between the parasympathetic and sympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system, with higher heart rate variability signaling parasympathetic predominance, usually indicating relaxation.

 

Employing regression analysis, they found that the higher the levels of self-compassion the higher the levels of mindfulness and psychophysiological flexibility. They also found that both higher levels of mindfulness and also self-compassion the lower the levels of anxiety and rumination (worry). So, mindfulness is related to self-compassion and lower anxiety and rumination and self-compassion is related to mindfulness and psychophysiological flexibility and lower anxiety and rumination.

 

The findings are correlative and as such causation cannot be determined. But they show that mindfulness is significantly related to self-compassion and both are related to better mental health. In prior manipulative studies, it has been demonstrated that mindfulness causes increased self-compassion and decreased anxiety and rumination. So, the present results likely reflect causal connections.

 

The results also demonstrated that self-compassion has the strongest relationship with psychophysiological flexibility suggesting that self-compassion is related to the ability to regulate emotional arousal. It is this ability that may underlie the lower levels of anxiety and rumination found with high levels of self-compassion. Hence, mindfulness and self-compassion are important components of the mental health of young adults.

 

So, improve self-compassion with psychophysiological flexibility and mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness increases empathy and compassion for others and for oneself, and that such attitudes are good for you. To me, that affirms that when we practice mindfulness, we are simultaneously strengthening our skills of compassion.” – Shauna Shapiro

 

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

 

Svendsen JL, Schanche E, Osnes B, Vøllestad J, Visted E, Dundas I, Nordby H, Binder P-E and Sørensen L (2020) Is Dispositional Self-Compassion Associated With Psychophysiological Flexibility Beyond Mindfulness? An Exploratory Pilot Study. Front. Psychol. 11:614. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00614

 

Abstract

Background: Dispositional mindfulness and self-compassion are shown to associate with less self-reported emotional distress. However, previous studies have indicated that dispositional self-compassion may be an even more important buffer against such distress than dispositional mindfulness. To our knowledge, no study has yet disentangled the relationship between dispositional self-compassion and mindfulness and level of psychophysiological flexibility as measured with vagally mediated heart rate variability (vmHRV). The aim was thus to provide a first exploratory effort to expand previous research relying on self-report measures by including a psychophysiological measure indicative of emotional stress reactivity.

Methods: Fifty-three university students filled out the “Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire” (FFMQ) and the “Self-Compassion Scale” (SCS), and their heart rate was measured during a 5 min resting electrocardiogram. Linear hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to examine the common and unique variance explained by the total scores of the FFMQ and the SCS on level of resting vmHRV.

Results: Higher SCS total scores associated significantly with higher levels of vmHRV also when controlling for the FFMQ total scores. The SCS uniquely explained 7% of the vmHRV. The FFMQ total scores did not associate with level of vmHRV.

Conclusion: These results offer preliminary support that dispositional self-compassion associates with better psychophysiological regulation of emotional arousal above and beyond mindfulness

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00614/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1302118_69_Psycho_20200416_arts_A