Reduce Stress and Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function with Tai Chi or Yoga

Reduce Stress and Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function with Tai Chi or Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The rate of individuals suffering from autonomic nervous system dysfunctions is fast on the rise, due to our high stress and stimulative 21st-century lifestyles. However unknown to many practitioners, there are several natural therapies which are proven to help support the balance of the autonomic nervous system such as meditation and often have fewer side-effects and are better tolerated than many pharmaceutical medications.” –  NaturalHealthBlogger

 

There is an accumulating volume of research findings to demonstrate that Mind-body practices have highly beneficial effects on the health and well-being of humans. These include yoga, tai chi, and qigong, among many others. Because of their proven benefits the application of these practices to relieving human suffering has skyrocketed. Tai Chi has been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevity. Tai Chi training is designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements.  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.

 

One way that these Mind-body practices may have their beneficial effects is by providing balance in the autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic division underlies activation while the parasympathetic division underlies relaxation. When these divisions are out of balance the individual may be overly stressed or overly sedentary. Appropriate balance is important for health and well-being. A measure of balance is provided by the variability of the heart rate. Moderated heart rate variability reflects balance in the autonomic nervous system.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Mind⁻Body Exercises (Tai Chi/Yoga) on Heart Rate Variability Parameters and Perceived Stress: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6262541/ ), Zou and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials investigating the effects of tai chi and yoga on a measure of autonomic balance; heart rate variability. They discovered 17 research publications reporting on research studies of fair to high quality.

 

They report that after both tai chi or yoga practice there are large significant reductions in perceived stress levels. Also, after practice there were small, albeit significant reductions in the normalized low-frequency component of heart rate variation and the ratio of low frequency to high frequency variations and significant increases in the normalized high-frequency component. These components are thought to be indicative of sympathetic and vagal modulation, sympathetic modulation, and sympathetic activity. These effects on heart rate variation components suggest that after tai chi and yoga practice there is better balance in the autonomic nervous system. Additionally, the published studies indicate that while both tai chi and yoga practice decrease stress and improve autonomic balance, that a minimum of 90 minutes per week of yoga practice produces better results.

 

These results are interesting and important. They suggest that tai chi and especially yoga practice promote health and well-being and may do so by reducing perceived levels of stress and balancing the autonomic nervous system. Yoga practice is generally a more intense exercise and it is likely that this greater intensity of exercise is responsible for yoga’s superiority. But Tai Chi is gentle, safe, and easily practiced conveniently without a professional teacher. Hence, it may be better adapted to integration into the daily lifestyle of the individual.

 

So, reduce stress and improve autonomic nervous system function with tai chi or yoga.

 

Practicing yoga is an excellent way to stimulate and bring circuitry to the important parasympathetic nervous system. The gentle movements and slow rhythmic breathing slow the heart and blood pressure. Yoga redirects blood flow to the reproductive and digestive organs. Regular yoga practice results in a sustained state of strength and health, as well as mind and body balance. Tai Chi is widely used for its variety of health benefits and its adaptability to any age or level of fitness. It is an effective technique that enhances your body’s ability to use the mind to get in touch with the body through the nervous system. The results of continued practice include increased awareness, strengthened nerves, and better coordination, to name a few.” – Aleksandra Eifler

 

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

 

Zou, L., Sasaki, J. E., Wei, G. X., Huang, T., Yeung, A. S., Neto, O. B., Chen, K. W., … Hui, S. S. (2018). Effects of Mind⁻Body Exercises (Tai Chi/Yoga) on Heart Rate Variability Parameters and Perceived Stress: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of clinical medicine, 7(11), 404. doi:10.3390/jcm7110404

 

Abstract

Background: Heart rate variability (HRV) as an accurate, noninvasive measure of the Autonomous Nervous System (ANS) can reflect mental health (e.g., stress, depression, or anxiety). Tai Chi and Yoga (Tai Chi/Yoga), as the most widely practiced mind–body exercises, have shown positive outcomes of mental health. To date, no systematic review regarding the long-lasting effects of Tai Chi/Yoga on HRV parameters and perceived stress has been conducted. Objective: To critically evaluate the existing literature on this topic. Methods: Five electronic databases (Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus, SportDiscus and Cochrane Library) were searched from the start of the research project to July 2018. Study selection, data extraction, and study quality assessment were independently carried out by two reviewers. The potentially identified randomized controlled trials (RCT) reported the useful quantitative data that were included only for meta-analysis. Results: meta-analysis of 17 medium-to-high quality RCTs showed significantly beneficial effects on HRV parameters (normalized low-frequency, Hedge’s g = −0.39, 95% CI −0.39 to −0.56, p < 0.001, I2 = 11.62%; normalized high-frequency, Hedge’s g = 0.37, 95% CI 0.22 to −0.52, p < 0.001, I2 = 0%; low-frequency to high-frequency ratio, Hedge’s g = −0.58, 95% CI −0.81 to −0.35, p < 0.001, I2 = 53.78%) and stress level (Hedge’s g = −0.80, 95% CI −1.17 to −0.44, p < 0.001, I2 = 68.54%). Conclusions: Stress reduction may be attributed to sympathetic-vagal balance modulated by mind–body exercises. Tai Chi/Yoga could be an alternative method for stress reduction for people who live under high stress or negative emotions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6262541/

 

Reduce Stress and Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function with Tai Chi or Yoga

Reduce Stress and Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function with Tai Chi or Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The rate of individuals suffering from autonomic nervous system dysfunctions is fast on the rise, due to our high stress and stimulative 21st-century lifestyles. However unknown to many practitioners, there are several natural therapies which are proven to help support the balance of the autonomic nervous system such as meditation and often have fewer side-effects and are better tolerated than many pharmaceutical medications.” –  NaturalHealthBlogger

 

There is an accumulating volume of research findings to demonstrate that Mind-body practices have highly beneficial effects on the health and well-being of humans. These include yoga, tai chi, and qigong, among many others. Because of their proven benefits the application of these practices to relieving human suffering has skyrocketed. Tai Chi has been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevity. Tai Chi training is designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements.  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.

 

One way that these Mind-body practices may have their beneficial effects is by providing balance in the autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic division underlies activation while the parasympathetic division underlies relaxation. When these divisions are out of balance the individual may be overly stressed or overly sedentary. Appropriate balance is important for health and well-being. A measure of balance is provided by the variability of the heart rate. Moderated heart rate variability reflects balance in the autonomic nervous system.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Mind⁻Body Exercises (Tai Chi/Yoga) on Heart Rate Variability Parameters and Perceived Stress: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6262541/ ), Zou and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials investigating the effects of tai chi and yoga on a measure of autonomic balance; heart rate variability. They discovered 17 research publications reporting on research studies of fair to high quality.

 

They report that after both tai chi or yoga practice there are large significant reductions in perceived stress levels. Also, after practice there were small, albeit significant reductions in the normalized low-frequency component of heart rate variation and the ratio of low frequency to high frequency variations and significant increases in the normalized high-frequency component. These components are thought to be indicative of sympathetic and vagal modulation, sympathetic modulation, and sympathetic activity. These effects on heart rate variation components suggest that after tai chi and yoga practice there is better balance in the autonomic nervous system. Additionally, the published studies indicate that while both tai chi and yoga practice decrease stress and improve autonomic balance, that a minimum of 90 minutes per week of yoga practice produces better results.

 

These results are interesting and important. They suggest that tai chi and especially yoga practice promote health and well-being and may do so by reducing perceived levels of stress and balancing the autonomic nervous system. Yoga practice is generally a more intense exercise and it is likely that this greater intensity of exercise is responsible for yoga’s superiority. But Tai Chi is gentle, safe, and easily practiced conveniently without a professional teacher. Hence, it may be better adapted to integration into the daily lifestyle of the individual.

 

So, reduce stress and improve autonomic nervous system function with tai chi or yoga.

 

Practicing yoga is an excellent way to stimulate and bring circuitry to the important parasympathetic nervous system. The gentle movements and slow rhythmic breathing slow the heart and blood pressure. Yoga redirects blood flow to the reproductive and digestive organs. Regular yoga practice results in a sustained state of strength and health, as well as mind and body balance. Tai Chi is widely used for its variety of health benefits and its adaptability to any age or level of fitness. It is an effective technique that enhances your body’s ability to use the mind to get in touch with the body through the nervous system. The results of continued practice include increased awareness, strengthened nerves, and better coordination, to name a few.” – Aleksandra Eifler

 

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

 

Zou, L., Sasaki, J. E., Wei, G. X., Huang, T., Yeung, A. S., Neto, O. B., Chen, K. W., … Hui, S. S. (2018). Effects of Mind⁻Body Exercises (Tai Chi/Yoga) on Heart Rate Variability Parameters and Perceived Stress: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of clinical medicine, 7(11), 404. doi:10.3390/jcm7110404

 

Abstract

Background: Heart rate variability (HRV) as an accurate, noninvasive measure of the Autonomous Nervous System (ANS) can reflect mental health (e.g., stress, depression, or anxiety). Tai Chi and Yoga (Tai Chi/Yoga), as the most widely practiced mind–body exercises, have shown positive outcomes of mental health. To date, no systematic review regarding the long-lasting effects of Tai Chi/Yoga on HRV parameters and perceived stress has been conducted. Objective: To critically evaluate the existing literature on this topic. Methods: Five electronic databases (Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus, SportDiscus and Cochrane Library) were searched from the start of the research project to July 2018. Study selection, data extraction, and study quality assessment were independently carried out by two reviewers. The potentially identified randomized controlled trials (RCT) reported the useful quantitative data that were included only for meta-analysis. Results: meta-analysis of 17 medium-to-high quality RCTs showed significantly beneficial effects on HRV parameters (normalized low-frequency, Hedge’s g = −0.39, 95% CI −0.39 to −0.56, p < 0.001, I2 = 11.62%; normalized high-frequency, Hedge’s g = 0.37, 95% CI 0.22 to −0.52, p < 0.001, I2 = 0%; low-frequency to high-frequency ratio, Hedge’s g = −0.58, 95% CI −0.81 to −0.35, p < 0.001, I2 = 53.78%) and stress level (Hedge’s g = −0.80, 95% CI −1.17 to −0.44, p < 0.001, I2 = 68.54%). Conclusions: Stress reduction may be attributed to sympathetic-vagal balance modulated by mind–body exercises. Tai Chi/Yoga could be an alternative method for stress reduction for people who live under high stress or negative emotions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6262541/

 

Improve Physical and Mental Health with Musculoskeletal Disorders with Mindfulness Practices

Improve Physical and Mental Health with Musculoskeletal Disorders with Mindfulness Practices

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) is the term given to a variety of painful conditions that affect the muscles, bones, and joints, which are a leading cause of long term sickness absence. . .MSDs are also at risk of developing symptoms of depression . . . Being off work for a significant period of time, whether due to an musculoskeletal disorder or other condition, can cause many other repercussions – including mental health issues.” – Fit for Work

 

Orthopedic Disorders consist of a wide range of problems that are concerned with muscles, ligaments and joints. Disorders are ailments, injuries or diseases that cause knee problems, whiplash, dislocated shoulder, torn cartilages, foot pain and fibromyalgia. The most common forms of orthopedic disorders are arthritis, and back and neck pain.

 

Arthritis is a chronic disease that most commonly affects the joints. Depending on the type of arthritis symptoms may include pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, and decreased range of motion. It affects an estimated 52.5 million adults in the United States. The pain, stiffness, and lack of mobility associate with arthritis produce fatigue and markedly reduce the quality of life of the sufferers.

 

The most common forms of chronic pain are back and neck pain. Low Back Pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide and affects between 6% to 15% of the population. Back and neck pain interferes with daily living and with work, decreasing productivity and creating absences. Arthritis and back pain can have very negative psychological effects and may lead to depression, isolation, and withdrawal from friends and social activities.

 

There are many different treatments for pain, but few are both safe and effective for chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions. So, alternative treatments are needed. Mindfulness practices are effective in treating pain and have been shown to be safe and effective in the management of arthritislow back pain and neck pain. In addition, mindfulness practices have been shown to improve mental health. So, it is likely that mindfulness practices will be effective for both the physical and mental health issues that accompany musculoskeletal disorders.

 

In today’s Research News article “Scoping review of systematic reviews of complementary medicine for musculoskeletal and mental health conditions.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6196876/ ), Lorenc and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies on the effectiveness of mindfulness practices for the treatment of the psychological problems that accompany musculoskeletal disorders.

 

They summarize the evidence from 111 published research studies and report that these studies support the effectiveness of yoga for low back pain, and anxiety; Tai Chi for osteoarthritis, depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders; meditation for depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders; and mindfulness for stress and distress. There were no safety problems found with any of these mindfulness techniques.

 

This review indicates that there has accumulated a large body of evidence for the safety and effectiveness of mindfulness practices for the physical and mental health issues that accompany musculoskeletal disorders. Hence the published research to date supports the use of mindfulness practices in the package of treatments for musculoskeletal disorders.

 

So, improve physical and mental health with musculoskeletal disorders with mindfulness practices.

 

“Yoga has been used to alleviate musculoskeletal pain and has been associated with significant improvement in range of motion and function, decreased tenderness, lower levels of depressive symptoms, and decreased pain during activity in patients with musculoskeletal disorders.” – Ruth McCaffrey

 

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

 

Lorenc, A., Feder, G., MacPherson, H., Little, P., Mercer, S. W., & Sharp, D. (2018). Scoping review of systematic reviews of complementary medicine for musculoskeletal and mental health conditions. BMJ open, 8(10), e020222. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2017-020222

 

Abstract

Objective

To identify potentially effective complementary approaches for musculoskeletal (MSK)–mental health (MH) comorbidity, by synthesising evidence on effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and safety from systematic reviews (SRs).

Design

Scoping review of SRs.

Methods

We searched literature databases, registries and reference lists, and contacted key authors and professional organisations to identify SRs of randomised controlled trials for complementary medicine for MSK or MH. Inclusion criteria were: published after 2004, studying adults, in English and scoring >50% on Assessing the Methodological Quality of Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR); quality appraisal checklist). SRs were synthesised to identify research priorities, based on moderate/good quality evidence, sample size and indication of cost-effectiveness and safety.

Results

We included 84 MSK SRs and 27 MH SRs. Only one focused on MSK–MH comorbidity. Meditative approaches and yoga may improve MH outcomes in MSK populations. Yoga and tai chi had moderate/good evidence for MSK and MH conditions. SRs reported moderate/good quality evidence (any comparator) in a moderate/large population for: low back pain (LBP) (yoga, acupuncture, spinal manipulation/mobilisation, osteopathy), osteoarthritis (OA) (acupuncture, tai chi), neck pain (acupuncture, manipulation/manual therapy), myofascial trigger point pain (acupuncture), depression (mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), meditation, tai chi, relaxation), anxiety (meditation/MBSR, moving meditation, yoga), sleep disorders (meditative/mind–body movement) and stress/distress (mindfulness). The majority of these complementary approaches had some evidence of safety—only three had evidence of harm. There was some evidence of cost-effectiveness for spinal manipulation/mobilisation and acupuncture for LBP, and manual therapy/manipulation for neck pain, but few SRs reviewed cost-effectiveness and many found no data.

Conclusions

Only one SR studied MSK–MH comorbidity. Research priorities for complementary medicine for both MSK and MH (LBP, OA, depression, anxiety and sleep problems) are yoga, mindfulness and tai chi. Despite the large number of SRs and the prevalence of comorbidity, more high-quality, large randomised controlled trials in comorbid populations are needed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6196876/

 

Improve the Psychological Health of Mothers of Children With Fragile X Syndrome with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Health of Mothers of Children With Fragile X Syndrome with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“the key to reducing caregiver burnout and compassion fatigue lies in what can be construed to some as the seemingly counter intuitive wisdom of mindfulness. Being mindful and engaging in radical self-care is proving to be one of the most effective ways to take care of your loved one while fortifying yourself.” – Audrey Meinertzhagen

 

Fragile X Syndrome is an incurable genetic disorder that involves the FMR1 gene on the X Chromosome. This gene is involved in promotion communications between neurons in the nervous system. This disorder affects about 200,000 children a year in the US and is characterized by trouble learning skills like sitting, crawling, or walking, problems with language and speech, hand-flapping and not making eye contact, temper tantrums, poor impulse control, anxiety, extreme sensitivity to light or sound, and hyperactivity and trouble paying attention. Some children with fragile X also have changes to their face and body that can include a large head, long, narrow face, large ears, a large forehead and chin, loose joints, and flat feet.

 

Needless to say, raising these children can be a challenge and place considerable stress on the caregivers. Caregiving exacts a tremendous toll on caregivers’ health and well-being. Caregiving has been associated with increased levels of depression and anxiety as well as higher use of psychoactive medications, poorer self-reported physical health, compromised immune function, and increased mortality. The challenges of caring for a child with Fragile X Syndrome requires that the individual be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive. These skills are exactly those that are developed in mindfulness training. It improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves emotion regulation. And it improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction. So, it is not surprising that mindfulness improves caregiving and assists the caregiver in coping with the stress.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and Acceptance as Potential Protective Factors for Mothers of Children With Fragile X Syndrome.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6232517/ ), Wheeler and colleagues administered an online survey to mothers of children with Fragile X Syndrome. They measured the severity of the child’s disability, perceived stress, mindfulness, mindful parenting, anxiety, depression, physical health, and psychological acceptance. They then performed a regression analysis to explore the relationships between these variables.

 

They found that overall the mothers were high in perceived stress and anxiety. The child’s symptoms took their toll as the greater the severity of the child’s disability the higher the levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and physical symptoms in the mothers. They also found that mindfulness and acceptance appeared to buffer these effects with high levels of mindfulness and acceptance associated with low levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and physical symptoms and high levels of mindful parenting associated with low levels of anxiety, depression, and physical symptoms. Importantly, acceptance attenuated the effect of the child’s disability the lower the levels of physical symptoms. Being mindful and accepting of the child’s condition and behavior were very highly associated with reduced maternal distress.

 

These results are interesting but they are correlational and causation cannot be determined. But they suggest that mindfulness, mindful parenting, and acceptance are important for dealing with the deleterious effects of caring for a child with Fragile X Syndrome. Previous research has shown that mindfulness can produce improvements in the caregiver’s psychological state. So, it is likely that there is a causal connection between mindfulness and the psychological state of caregivers for children with Fragile X Syndrome.

 

These results suggest that training in mindfulness, mindful parenting, and acceptance may be greatly beneficial for mothers caring for children with Fragile X Syndrome, reducing their distress and potentially improving their caregiving for the child. This is a difficult situation for the mothers and such help could be greatly beneficial.

 

So, improve the psychological health of mothers of children with Fragile X Syndrome with mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness practices could be helpful for these caregivers because they encourage a nonjudgmental interpretation of their child’s situation, and increased acceptance of their reality. Mindfulness practices also help people observe their thoughts and behaviors with less reactivity and judgment, which could enable caregivers to better respond to the emotional and physical difficulties they encounter.” – Emily Nauman

 

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

 

Wheeler, A. C., Miller, S., Wylie, A., & Edwards, A. (2018). Mindfulness and Acceptance as Potential Protective Factors for Mothers of Children With Fragile X Syndrome. Frontiers in public health, 6, 316. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2018.00316

 

Abstract

Women with an FMR1 premutation may be at increased genetic risk for stress vulnerability. This increased vulnerability, when combined with stressful parenting that can result from raising children with fragile X syndrome (FXS), may result in negative physical and emotional outcomes. Mindfulness and acceptance have been found to be protective factors for parents of children with similar behavioral challenges, but these traits have not previously been explored among mothers with a child with FXS. This study explored the associations of child disability severity with maternal stress, anxiety, depression, and physical health symptoms in 155 biological mothers of children with FXS. Women completed an online survey using standardized measures of stress, mindfulness, and acceptance. General mindfulness, mindfulness in the parenting role, and general acceptance were explored as potential protective factors between the child disability severity and maternal outcomes. Trait mindfulness and acceptance were significant predictors of lower stress, anxiety, depression, and daily health symptoms, while mindful parenting was associated with lower stress, anxiety, and depression. Acceptance was found to attenuate the effects of child severity on maternal stress and depression. These findings suggest that interventions focused on improving mindfulness and acceptance may promote health and well-being for mothers of children with FXS and have important health implications for all individuals with an FMR1 premutation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6232517/

 

Relieve Burnout in Practicing Psychologists with Mindful Self-Compassion Training

Relieve Burnout in Practicing Psychologists with Mindful Self-Compassion Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness interventions in the workplace target workplace functioning: reducing stress and improving decision-making, productivity, resilience, interpersonal communication, organizational relationships, perspective-taking, and self-care,”– M. Janssen

 

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. Mindfulness is also known to improve self-compassion, understanding one’s own suffering. It is possible that this may be a key to understanding mindfulness’ effects on burnout.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindful Self-Compassion Training Reduces Stress and Burnout Symptoms Among Practicing Psychologists: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Brief Web-Based Intervention.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02340/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_847629_69_Psycho_20181211_arts_A ), Eriksson and colleagues recruited practicing psychologists and randomly assigned them a wait list control condition or to receive mindful self-compassion training online for 6 weeks of 15 minute per day for 6 days per week. The program consisted of mindfulness exercises and compassion-focused exercises with 6 components, “(1) Kind attention, (2) Kind awareness, (3) Loving kindness with oneself and others, (4) Self-compassion—part 1, (5) Self-compassion—part 2, (6) Compassion with others and Quiet Practice.” The participants were measured before and after training for mindfulness, self-compassion, perceived stress, and burnout.

 

They found that compared to baseline and the wait-list control group, the group receiving mindful self-compassion training had significantly higher mindfulness and self-compassion and significantly lower self-coldness, perceived stress and burnout symptoms including fatigue, weariness, tension, and listlessness. They also found that the greater the change in self-compassion the greater the reduction in perceived stress and burnout. This suggests that improvements in self-compassion are an important consequence of mindfulness training in reducing burnout.

 

The fact that the program was delivered online and only involved 15 minutes per day is important for the engagement of busy professionals. This resulted in about 4 out of 5 psychologists successfully completing the program. Importantly, the observed sizes of the effects of the training were comparable to those seen in studies employing face-to-face training. Hence, offering the program online appeared to have the major advantages of convenience and wide availability without reducing effectiveness.

 

These results suggest that mindful self-compassion training delivered online is effective in reducing the symptoms of burnout in practicing psychologists. This should not only relieve the suffering of the psychologists but also make them more effective in relieving the suffering of their clients.

 

So, relieve burnout in practicing psychologists with mindful self-compassion training.

 

Self-compassion enhances our careers by increasing our motivation,16 encouraging us to take risks without fear of failure, to persist despite obstacles; it fosters personal growth, and even reduces medical errors.” – Laurie Keefer

 

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

 

Eriksson T, Germundsjö L, Åström E and Rönnlund M (2018) Mindful Self-Compassion Training Reduces Stress and Burnout Symptoms Among Practicing Psychologists: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Brief Web-Based Intervention. Front. Psychol. 9:2340. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02340

 

Objective: The aims of this study were (a) to examine the effects of a 6 weeks web-based mindful self-compassion program on stress and burnout symptoms in a group of practicing psychologists, and (b) to examine relationships between changes in self-compassion and self-coldness and changes in stress and burnout symptoms.

Method: In a randomized controlled trial, 101 practicing psychologists were assigned to a training group (n = 51) or a wait-list control group (n = 49). The training encompassed 15 min exercises per day, 6 days a week, for 6 weeks. The participants completed the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS), the Five Facets of Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and the Shirom Melamed Burnout Questionnaire (SMBQ) pre and post intervention.

Results: Eighty-one participants (n = 40 in the training group, n = 41 in the control group) took part in the pre and post intervention assessments. Selective gains for the intervention group were observed for SCS total scores (d = 0.86; d = 0.94 for the SCS), FFMQ scores (d = 0.60), while levels of self-coldness was reduced (d = 0.73). Critically, levels of perceived stress (d = 0.59) and burnout symptoms (d = 0.44 for SMBQ total) were additionally lowered post intervention. Finally, the results confirmed the hypothesis that the measures of distress would be more strongly related to self-coldness than self-compassion, a pattern seen in cross-sectional analyses and, for burnout, also in the longitudinal analyses.

Conclusions: This training program appeared effective to increase self-compassion/reduce self-coldness, and to alleviate stress and symptoms of burnout and provide support of the distinction between self-compassion and self-coldness. Additional studies, preferably three-armed RCTs with long-term follow-up, are warranted to further evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02340/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_847629_69_Psycho_20181211_arts_A

 

Improve Psychological Health with Online Mindfulness Training

Improve Psychological Health with Online Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“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

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, online mindfulness training programs 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. There is evidence that mindfulness programs delivered online can be quite effective. But there is a need to further investigate the effectiveness of these programs as an alternative to face-to-face trainings.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of an Online Mindfulness Intervention on Perceived Stress, Depression and Anxiety in a Non-clinical Sample: A Randomised Waitlist Control Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6244637/ ), Querstet and colleagues recruited adult participants online and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive a 4-week online mindfulness course. The course was implemented with audio and video components and required about 2 hours each week and additional homework. The participants were measured before and after the training for mindfulness, perceived stress, anxiety, and depression. After the wait-list controls completed their mindfulness training they completed follow-up measures at 3 and 6 months after the training.

 

They found that in comparison to the wait-list controls, the participants who received mindfulness training had significant reductions in perceived stress, anxiety, and depression. There were also significant increases in mindfulness including the observing, describing, acting with awareness, and non-judging facets. These effects were sustained 3 and 6 months after the completion of training. They also found that the decreases in perceived stress, anxiety, and depression, produced by the intervention were mediated by the increases in the non-judging facet of mindfulness. The effect on depression was also meditated by the describing facet of mindfulness.

 

It is interesting that the facet of mindfulness that appeared to have the greatest impact on the psychological health of the participants was non-judging. Hence, being able to be aware of varied experiences simply as experiences and not judging them is a key to improved psychological well-being. This makes sense as most of the things that happen to an individual are not under their control. What can be controlled are the reactions to the experiences. These are best accomplished if they can be seen as not good or bad, important or trivial, or due to some personal characteristic, but simply as they are.

 

The results add to the accumulating evidence that mindfulness can be trained online and that it produces similar benefits as face-to-face training. This is very important as this makes mindfulness training inexpensive and available to a very large population regardless of schedule and location. This makes it possible to bring the benefits of mindfulness training, promoting psychological health and well-being, to a wide audience.

 

So, improve psychological health with online mindfulness training.

 

“Mindfulness helps to train individuals in bringing back the attention time and time again when it has wandered. And it is precisely through helping individuals to not get carried away by their thoughts that mindfulness has been shown to be so effective for conditions like anxiety and depression.” – Carolyn Gregoire

 

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

Querstret, D., Cropley, M., & Fife-Schaw, C. (2018). The Effects of an Online Mindfulness Intervention on Perceived Stress, Depression and Anxiety in a Non-clinical Sample: A Randomised Waitlist Control Trial. Mindfulness, 9(6), 1825–1836.

 

Abstract

Mindfulness interventions have been shown to be effective for health and wellbeing, and delivering mindfulness programmes online may increase accessibility and reduce waiting times and associated costs; however, research assessing the effectiveness of online interventions is lacking. We sought to: (1) assess the effects of an online mindfulness intervention on perceived stress, depression and anxiety; (2) assess different facets of mindfulness (i.e. acting with awareness, describing, non-judging and non-reacting) as mechanisms of change and (3) assess whether the effect of the intervention was maintained over time. The sample was comprised of 118 adults (female, n = 95) drawn from the general population. Using a randomised waitlist control design, participants were randomised to either an intervention (INT) or waitlist control (WLC) group. Participants completed the online intervention, with the WLC group starting after a 6-week waitlist period. Participants completed measures of depression (PHQ-9), anxiety (GAD-7) and perceived stress (PSS-10) at baseline, post-treatment, 3- and 6-month follow-up. Participants who completed the mindfulness intervention (n = 60) reported significantly lower levels of perceived stress (d = − 1.25 [− 1.64, − 0.85]), anxiety (d = − 1.09 [− 1.47, − 0.98]) and depression (d = − 1.06 [− 1.44, − 0.67]), when compared with waitlist control participants (n = 58), and these effects were maintained at follow-up. The effect of the intervention was primarily explained by increased levels of non-judging. This study provides support for online mindfulness interventions and furthers our understanding with regards to how mindfulness interventions exert their positive effects.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6244637/

 

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 Mental Health with Yoga Nidra and Meditation

Improve Mental Health with Yoga Nidra and Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga nidra promotes deep rest and relaxation that isn’t found in your average meditation practice. The stages of body scan and breath awareness alone can be practiced to calm the nervous system, leading to less stress and better health.” – Allison Ray Jeraci

 

Meditation leads to concentration, concentration leads to understanding, and understanding leads to happiness” – This wonderful quote from the modern-day sage Thich Nhat Hahn is a beautiful pithy description of the benefits of meditation practice. Meditation allows us to view our experience and not put labels on it, not make assumptions about it, not relate it to past experiences, and not project it into the future. Rather meditation lets us experience everything around and within us exactly as it is arising and falling away from moment to moment.

 

Meditation training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. Meditation techniques have common properties of restful attention on the present moment, but there are large differences. These differences are likely to produce different effects on the practitioner. Yoga Nidra is a deep relaxation technique where the practitioner lies on the back in a “corpse pose” and is guided through body scan and imagery into a deeply relaxed state. Meditation involves a more active and concentrated process on the part of the practitioner but also leads to relaxation. It is not known if these two different contemplative techniques have different effects on psychological health.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Impact of Yoga Nidra and Seated Meditation on the Mental Health of College Professors.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6134749/ ), Ferreira-Vorkapic and colleagues recruited healthy adults and randomly assigned them to either practice Yoga Nidra of meditation for 3 months, once a week for 45 minutes, or to a wait-list control. They were measured before and after training for anxiety, depression, fear, and perceived stress.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, the participants who practiced either Yoga Nidra or meditation had significant reductions in anxiety, depression, fear, and perceived stress. There were no significant differences between the contemplative techniques on any of the measure of psychological health. Hence, the techniques would appear to be equally effective in improving the psychological state of the participants.

 

It should be mentioned that since the control condition did not receive any treatment and both treated groups had significant effects, that a subject expectancy (placebo effect), attention, of experimenter bias effects may account for the improvements. It is also possible that the techniques may produce different effects on variable that were not measured, as only negative mood states were measured and a variety of contemplative techniques have been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, fear, and perceived stress. Regardless, the present study demonstrates that the contemplative techniques of Yoga Nidra and meditation are effective in improving the psychological states of the practitioners.

 

So, improve mental health with Yoga Nidra and meditation.

 

“As you can imagine, feeling well rested is life changing, but yoga nidra also improves your overall health. A 2013 study showed that practicing yoga nidra improved anxiety, depression, and overall well-being.” – Karen Brody

 

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

 

Ferreira-Vorkapic, C., Borba-Pinheiro, C. J., Marchioro, M., & Santana, D. (2018). The Impact of Yoga Nidra and Seated Meditation on the Mental Health of College Professors. International journal of yoga, 11(3), 215-223.

 

Abstract

Background:

World statistics for the prevalence of anxiety and mood disorders shows that a great number of individuals will experience some type of anxiety or mood disorder at some point in their lifetime. Mind–body interventions such as Hatha Yoga and seated meditation have been used as a form of self-help therapy and it is especially useful for challenging occupations such as teachers and professors.

Aims:

In this investigation, we aimed at observing the impact of Yoga Nidra and seated meditation on the anxiety and depression levels of college professors.

Materials and Methods:

Sixty college professors, men and women, aged between 30 and 55 years were randomly allocated in one of the three experimental groups: Yoga Nidra, seated meditation, and control group. Professors were evaluated two times throughout the 3-month study period. Psychological variables included anxiety, stress, and depression.

Results:

Data analysis showed that the relaxation group presented better intragroup results in the anxiety levels. Meditation group presented better intragroup results only in the anxiety variable (physical component). Intergroup analysis showed that, except for the depression levels, both intervention groups presented better results than the control group in all other variables.

Conclusions:

Prepost results indicate that both interventions represent an effective therapeutic approach in reducing anxiety and stress levels. However, there was a tendency toward a greater effectiveness of the Yoga Nidraintervention regarding anxiety, which might represent an effective tool in reducing both cognitive and physiological symptoms of anxiety.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6134749/

 

Improve Psychological Well-Being with a Mindfulness Smartphone Ap

Improve Psychological Well-Being with a Mindfulness Smartphone Ap

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“When it comes to building a mindfulness meditation practice, “there’s no substitute for a live connection with a teacher — and encouragement from a group or class. But for people who have already taken a class or been introduced to the basics apps are a terrific support to the process.” – Steven Hickman

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, Apps for smartphones have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But, the question arises as to the effectiveness of these Apps in inducing mindfulness and improving psychological health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Improvements in Stress, Affect, and Irritability Following Brief Use of a Mindfulness-based Smartphone App: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6153897/ ), Economides and colleagues recruited meditation naïve adults on-line and randomly assigned them to practice either meditation or psychoeducation with a cellphone ap. They practiced for 10 minutes per day for 10 days. The meditation ap presented meditation instructions and guided meditations while the psychoeducation ap was structured identically but contained a presentation about the concepts of mindfulness and how an individual applied them. They were measured before and after training for stress, positive and negative emotions, and irritability.

 

Approximately 20% of the initial participants in both groups dropped out before completing the study. Of the completers, compared to baseline and the psychoeducation group, the participants who received the meditation training had significantly lower levels of stress and irritability, and greater levels of positive emotions. Hence, a simple meditation training with a smartphone ap produced significant improvements in psychological well-being.

 

These results are interesting and potentially important as they demonstrate that a simple practice guided with brief smartphone instructions can significantly improve psychological health in individuals without mental or physical illness. A strength of the study was that there was an equivalent comparison condition, psychoeducation ap, to the meditation ap. This suggests that meditation practice was responsible for the results and not some confounding factor such as participant bias, attentional effects, practice effects, experimenter bias, or expectancy effects.  Hence, it appears that meditation practice via smartphone ap may be a simple, inexpensive, convenient way to spread the benefits of meditation practice to widespread populations.

 

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

 

“Mindfulness based programs in person have been found to be effective for reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. However, it’s unclear if you can reap the same benefits of mindfulness programs with mobile apps. There is only one scientific study on the effectiveness of a mindfulness app . . . showed improvement in mood and fewer symptoms of depression.” – Marilyn Wei

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

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

 

Study Summary

 

Economides, M., Martman, J., Bell, M. J., & Sanderson, B. (2018). Improvements in Stress, Affect, and Irritability Following Brief Use of a Mindfulness-based Smartphone App: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Mindfulness, 9(5), 1584–1593. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0905-4

 

Abstract

Mindfulness training, which involves observing thoughts and feelings without judgment or reaction, has been shown to improve aspects of psychosocial well-being when delivered via in-person training programs such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). Less is known about the efficacy of digital training mediums, such as smartphone apps, which are rapidly rising in popularity. In this study, novice meditators were randomly allocated to an introductory mindfulness meditation program or to a psychoeducational audiobook control featuring an introduction to the concepts of mindfulness and meditation. The interventions were delivered via the same mindfulness app, were matched across a range of criteria, and were presented to participants as well-being programs. Affect, irritability, and two distinct components of stress were measured immediately before and after each intervention in a cohort of healthy adults. While both interventions were effective at reducing stress associated with personal vulnerability, only the mindfulness intervention had a significant positive impact on irritability, affect, and stress resulting from external pressure (between group Cohen’s d = 0.44, 0.47, 0.45, respectively). These results suggest that brief mindfulness training has a beneficial impact on several aspects of psychosocial well-being, and that smartphone apps are an effective delivery medium for mindfulness training

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6153897/

 

Improve Diabetes with Meditation

Improve Diabetes with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“As a therapist who works primarily with people with diabetes, I have found that those who have a deeper understanding of themselves and have the ability to cope well with stressful life events simply live better with diabetes, both in terms of diabetes control and general quality of life.” – Joseph Nelson

 

Diabetes is a major health issue. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States and nearly 600 million people worldwide have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Diabetes is heavily associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and circulatory problems leading to amputations. As a result, diabetes doubles the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes.

 

Type 2 diabetes is a common and increasingly prevalent illness that is largely preventable. One of the reasons for the increasing incidence of Type 2 Diabetes is its association with overweight and obesity which is becoming epidemic in the industrialized world. A leading cause of this is a sedentary life style. Unlike Type I Diabetes, Type II does not require insulin injections. Instead, the treatment and prevention of Type 2 Diabetes focuses on diet, exercise, and weight control. Recently, mindfulness practices have been shown to be helpful in managing diabetes. There is a need for further research into this promising approach to the treatment of patients with diabetes.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mind–Body Interactions and Mindfulness Meditation in Diabetes.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5954593/ ), Priya and Kalra review and summarize the published research literature on the effectiveness of meditation-based practices for patients with diabetes. They report that the research found that meditation produces changes to the brain areas that reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress and this improves emotion regulation and coping responses to the disease and overall feelings of well-being.

 

They report that in diabetes patients, meditation-based treatments have been found to improve the psychological state of the patients including improved mood and reduced psychological distress, anxiety, and depression and increased self-care behaviors. These treatments also appear to improve the diabetes patient’s physiological state including lower weight and waist circumference, improved glycemic control, and improved cardiovascular health, including blood pressure, heart rate variability, and vascular resistance.

 

Hence, the published research indicates that meditation-based practices are safe and effective treatments for diabetes patients. “To summarise, mindfulness interventions have demonstrated impact on a broad range of outcomes relating to all domains of holistic care in diabetes – biological, psychological and also social” (Priya and Kalra, 2018).

 

So, improve diabetes with meditation.

 

“Exercise trains the body and meditation train the mind. Many people with diabetes find meditation is a good way to reduce stress, lower blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure readings and minimize pain. Regular meditation should become an important part of your diabetes self-management program.” – Roberta Kleinman

 

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

 

Priya, G., & Kalra, S. (2018). Mind–Body Interactions and Mindfulness Meditation in Diabetes. European Endocrinology, 14(1), 35–41. http://doi.org/10.17925/EE.2018.14.1.35

 

Abstract

Diabetes is associated with significant psychological distress. It is, therefore, important to ensure the physical and emotional as well as psychosocial wellbeing of individuals living with diabetes. Meditation-based strategies have been evaluated for their complementary role in several chronic disorders including depression, anxiety, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The practice of meditation is associated with reduction in stress and negative emotions and improvements in patient attitude, health-related behaviour and coping skills. There is increased parasympathetic activity with reduction in sympathetic vascular tone, stress hormones and inflammatory markers. Additionally, several studies evaluated the role of mindfulness-based stress reduction in diabetic individuals and demonstrated modest improvements in body weight, glycaemic control and blood pressure. Thus, mindfulness meditation-based intervention can lead to improvements across all domains of holistic care – biological, psychological and social. Though most of these studies have been of short duration and included small numbers of patients, meditation strategies can be useful adjunctive techniques to lifestyle modification and pharmacological management of diabetes and help improve patient wellbeing.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5954593/