Mindfulness Reduces Stress and Negative Emotions in College Students

Mindfulness Reduces Stress and Negative Emotions in College Students

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.” – Marcus Aurelius

 

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

 

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

 

In today’s Research News article “Investigating the effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on stress level and brain activity of college students.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9121238/ ) An and colleagues recruited college students and randomly assigned them to either a no-treatment control condition or to receive 8 weekly 1.5-hour sessions of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) along with home practice. MBSR consists of meditation, yoga, and body scan practices along with group discussion. They were measured before and after training and 2 months later for perceived stress, anxiety, and depression. They also had their electroencephalogram (EEG) measured while performing a stressful task (easy, moderate, and hard mental arithmetic, and the Stroop task).

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment group, the students who received Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training had significantly reduced levels of perceived stress, anxiety, and depression that were maintained 2 months later with the exception of perceived stress which continued to significantly decline from the end of training to 2 months later. They also found that during the stressful tasks that the alpha rhythm power in the EEG was significantly increased in the frontal, temporal, and occipital areas after MBSR.

 

Alpha power is reflective of relaxation. These findings then suggest that mindfulness training improves psychological well-being and the ability to relax under stress. Although not investigated, the improvements should translate into better academic performance. Nevertheless, mindfulness training is highly beneficial to college students and should be recommended.

 

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

An A, Hoang H, Trang L, Vo Q, Tran L, Le T, Le A, McCormick A, Du Old K, Williams NS, Mackellar G, Nguyen E, Luong T, Nguyen V, Nguyen K, Ha H. Investigating the effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on stress level and brain activity of college students. IBRO Neurosci Rep. 2022 May 14;12:399-410. doi: 10.1016/j.ibneur.2022.05.004. PMID: 35601693; PMCID: PMC9121238.

 

Abstract

Financial constraints usually hinder students, especially those in low-middle income countries (LMICs), from seeking mental health interventions. Hence, it is necessary to identify effective, affordable and sustainable counter-stress measures for college students in the LMICs context. This study examines the sustained effects of mindfulness practice on the psychological outcomes and brain activity of students, especially when they are exposed to stressful situations. Here, we combined psychological and electrophysiological methods (EEG) to investigate the sustained effects of an 8-week-long standardized Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) intervention on the brain activity of college students. We found that the Test group showed a decrease in negative emotional states after the intervention, compared to the no statistically significant result of the Control group, as indicated by the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) (33% reduction in the negative score) and Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale (DASS-42) scores (nearly 40% reduction of three subscale scores). Spectral analysis of EEG data showed that this intervention is longitudinally associated with increased frontal and occipital lobe alpha band power. Additionally, the increase in alpha power is more prevalent when the Test group was being stress-induced by cognitive tasks, suggesting that practicing MBSR might enhance the practitioners’ tolerance of negative emotional states. In conclusion, MBSR intervention led to a sustained reduction of negative emotional states as measured by both psychological and electrophysiological metrics, which supports the adoption of MBSR as an effective and sustainable stress-countering approach for students in LMICs.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9121238/

 

Mindfulness Improves the Well-Being of The Caregivers of Children with Developmental Disabilities

Mindfulness Improves the Well-Being of The Caregivers of Children with Developmental Disabilities

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.” — Rosalyn Carter

 

Intellectual disabilities involve below average intelligence and relatively slow learning. They are quite common, affecting an estimated 10% of individuals worldwide. These disabilities present problems for the individual in learning mathematics, reading and writing. Individuals with intellectual disorders often have challenging behaviors including aggression, disruptive and socially inappropriate behaviors, self‐injury and withdrawal behaviors. The challenging behaviors not only reduce the quality of life of the individual but also puts them at higher risk of abuse, neglect, deprivation, institutionalization, and restraints.  In addition, caregivers may have to deal with verbal and physical abuse. Obviously, there is a need for therapies that can reduce these behaviors. Mindfulness training may be useful. It has been shown to improve the behavior of individuals with intellectual disabilities and the well-being or their caregivers. So, there is a need to summarize what has been learned regarding the influence of mindfulness on the caregivers of children with developmental disabilities.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Mindfulness-Based and Acceptance Commitment Therapy-Based Interventions to Improve the Mental Well-Being Among Parents of Children with Developmental Disabilities: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8237545/ ) Chua and Shorey review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research on the influence of mindfulness on the caregivers of children with developmental disabilities.

 

They identified 10 published research studies that clearly demonstrate that mindfulness improves the well-being of the caregivers including improvements in anxiety, depression, and perceived stress. Importantly, these improvements would predict that the caregivers would be less likely to burnout and would provide better care for the children.

 

My caregiver mantra is to remember: the only control you have is over the changes you choose to make.” — Nancy L. Kriseman

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Chua JYX, Shorey S. The Effect of Mindfulness-Based and Acceptance Commitment Therapy-Based Interventions to Improve the Mental Well-Being Among Parents of Children with Developmental Disabilities: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Autism Dev Disord. 2022 Jun;52(6):2770-2783. doi: 10.1007/s10803-021-04893-1. Epub 2021 Jun 28. PMID: 34181139; PMCID: PMC8237545.

 

Abstract

Parents of children with developmental disabilities are susceptible to mental health problems. Mindfulness-based and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)-based interventions can improve their mental well-being. This review examined the effectiveness of mindfulness-based and ACT-based interventions in improving mental well-being and mindfulness among parents of children with developmental disabilities. Six electronic databases were searched, resulting in the inclusion of ten studies published between 2014 and 2020. Meta-analysis was conducted using the random-effect model. The results suggest that mindfulness-based and ACT-based interventions were effective in decreasing parental stress, anxiety and depression, however, the effectiveness of these interventions in increasing parental mindfulness was inconclusive. Based on these findings, we discussed considerations for implementing interventions and identified areas which warrant further research.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8237545/

 

Priming Improves the Effectiveness of Mindfulness to Reduce Stress and Improve Attention

Priming Improves the Effectiveness of Mindfulness to Reduce Stress and Improve Attention

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness is the awareness that arises from paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

One of the primary effects of mindfulness training is an improvement in the ability to pay attention to the task at hand and ignore interfering stimuli. This is an important consequence of mindfulness training and produces improvements in thinking, reasoning, and creativity. The importance of heightened attentional ability to the individual’s ability to navigate the demands of complex modern life cannot be overstated. It helps in school, at work, in relationships, or simply driving a car.  Priming occurs when information about a stimulus is presented beforehand. It is not known if priming regarding mindfulness will enhance its effectiveness.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of a Brief Mindfulness Practice on Perceived Stress and Sustained Attention: Does Priming Matter?” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9167905/) Ueberholz and Fiocco

Recruited undergraduate students for an online experiment. They were randomly assigned to either prime pus 10-minute meditation, 10-minute meditation only, or prime only conditions. The prime consisted of a mindfulness infographic including information on mindfulness, brain changes with mindfulness, and behavioral changes with mindfulness. The 10-minute audio guided meditation consisted in breath following and body scan meditations. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness, perceived stress, and sustained attention with a go/no go task.

 

They found that after training both the primed and no-prime meditation groups had significantly lower levels of perceived stress and fewer omission errors than the prime only group. On the other hand only the primed group had improved sustained attention as measured by commission errors and correct responses.

 

The results suggest that as seen in many studies meditation practice reduces perceived stress and improves attention. The results also suggest that priming with mindfulness information prior to meditation increases the impact of meditation on sustained attention.

 

So, potentiate the effects of meditation with priming.

 

Research indicates mindfulness and meditation can help us allocate cognitive resources more efficiently. Sustained attention in particular appears to be enhanced in those who practice.” – William Stafford

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Ueberholz, R. Y., & Fiocco, A. J. (2022). The Effect of a Brief Mindfulness Practice on Perceived Stress and Sustained Attention: Does Priming Matter?. Mindfulness, 1–12. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-022-01913-8

 

Abstract

Objectives

The objective of the current study was to investigate the effect of a brief mindfulness practice on perceived stress and sustained attention, and to determine whether priming the benefits of mindfulness meditation enhances this effect.

Methods

Two hundred and twenty undergraduate students were randomly assigned to a control condition (CC), a meditation condition (MC), or a priming + meditation condition (PMC). Baseline and post-treatment measures included subjective stress ratings on a visual analog scale (VAS) and performance on a Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART), determined by reaction time coefficient of variability (RTCV) and three measures of accuracy: correct responses, errors of commission, and errors of omission.

Results

Repeated measures analyses revealed that both the MC and the PMC displayed a decline in perceived stress relative to the CC. Analyses further revelated that the MC and PMC displayed fewer errors of omission relative to the CC. However, only the PMC displayed better performance relative to the CC with respect to total correct response and errors of commission. There were no significant between-group differences for RTCV.

Conclusions

These findings are novel and provide a foundation to further investigate the effect of priming on mindfulness engagement and its potential benefits.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9167905/

Improve Psychological Well-Being and Labor Duration with Pregnancy Yoga

Improve Psychological Well-Being and Labor Duration with Pregnancy Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Prenatal yoga is a great way to stay active during pregnancy. It’s both gentle and low impact, while offering physical and mental benefits.” – Karisa Ding

 

The period of pregnancy is a time of intense physiological and psychological change. Anxiety, depression, and fear are quite common during pregnancy. More than 20 percent of pregnant women have an anxiety disorder, depressive symptoms, or both during pregnancy. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve anxiety and depression normally and to relieve maternal anxiety and depression during pregnancy and to relieve postpartum depression. Yoga has been shown to relieve maternal anxiety and depression during pregnancy. The research is accumulating. So, it makes sense to review and summarize what has been learned regarding the effects of yoga during pregnancy.

 

In today’s Research News article “The characteristics and effectiveness of pregnancy yoga interventions: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8957136/ ) Corrigan and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research studies of the effects of yoga during pregnancy. They identified 31 published research studies including 2413 pregnant women.

 

They report that the published research found that practicing yoga during pregnancy produces significant psychological benefits including decreases in perceived stress, anxiety, and depression and significant increases in physical, psychological, and social quality of life. They also report that practicing yoga reduced the duration of labor.

 

The findings of the published research to date suggests that practicing yoga during pregnancy improves the psychological well-being of the women and reduces the amount of labor.

 

Women who do yoga — including breathing exercises, posture positions and meditation — for one hour a day have been shown to have a lower preterm labor rate, as well as lower risk of pregnancy-reduced hypertension, compared with women who spent the same amount of time walking.” – Maura Hohman

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Corrigan, L., Moran, P., McGrath, N., Eustace-Cook, J., & Daly, D. (2022). The characteristics and effectiveness of pregnancy yoga interventions: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC pregnancy and childbirth, 22(1), 250. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-022-04474-9

 

Abstract

Background

Yoga is a popular mind-body medicine frequently recommended to pregnant women. Gaps remain in our understanding of the core components of effective pregnancy yoga programmes. This systematic review and meta-analysis examined the characteristics and effectiveness of pregnancy yoga interventions, incorporating the FITT (frequency, intensity, time/duration and type) principle of exercise prescription.

Methods

Nine electronic databases were searched: MEDLINE, PsycINFO, EMBASE, CINAHL, WHOLiS, AMED, ScieLo, ASSIA and Web of Science. Randomised control trials and quasi-experimental studies examining pregnancy yoga interventions were eligible. Covidence was used to screen titles, abstracts, and full-text articles. Outcomes of interest were stress, anxiety, depression, quality of life, labour duration, pain management in labour and mode of birth. The Cochrane Collaboration’s Risk of Bias Assessment tool was used to assess methodological quality of studies and GRADE criteria (GRADEpro) evaluated quality of the evidence. Meta-analysis was performed using RevMan 5.3.

Results

Of 862 citations retrieved, 31 studies met inclusion criteria. Twenty-nine studies with 2217 pregnant women were included for meta-analysis. Pregnancy yoga interventions reduced anxiety (SMD: -0.91; 95% CI: − 1.49 to − 0.33; p = 0.002), depression (SMD: -0.47; 95% CI: − 0.9 to − 0.04, P = 0.03) and perceived stress (SMD: -1.03; 95% CI: − 1.55 to − 0.52; p < 0.001). Yoga interventions also reduced duration of labour (MD = − 117.75; 95% CI − 153.80 to − 81.71, p < 0.001) and, increased odds of normal vaginal birth (OR 2.58; 95% CI 1.46–4.56, p < 0.001) and tolerance for pain. The quality of evidence (GRADE criteria) was low to very low for all outcomes. Twelve or more yoga sessions delivered weekly/bi-weekly had a statistically significant impact on mode of birth, while 12 or more yoga sessions of long duration (> 60 min) had a statistically significant impact on perceived stress.

Conclusion

The evidence highlights positive effects of pregnancy yoga on anxiety, depression, perceived stress, mode of birth and duration of labour.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8957136/

 

Alter Cognition of Patients with Anxiety with Mindfulness

Alter Cognition of Patients with Anxiety with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Anxiety can mentally exhaust you and have real impacts on your body. But before you get anxious about being anxious, know that research has shown you can reduce your anxiety and stress with a simple mindfulness practice.” – Mandy Ferreira 

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, or 18% of the population. A characterizing feature of anxiety disorders is that the sufferer overly identifies with and personalizes their thoughts. The sufferer has recurring thoughts, such as impending disaster, that they may realize are unreasonable, but are unable to shake. Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects, and these drugs are often abused. There are several psychological therapies for anxiety. But, about 45% of the patients treated do not respond to the therapy. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders.

 

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety disordersMBCT 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. But how MBCT affects the thought processes in anxiety disorders needs further investigation.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy: A Preliminary Examination of the (Event-Related) Potential for Modifying Threat-Related Attentional Bias in Anxiety.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9159034/ ) Gupta and colleagues recruited adults with high levels of anxiety and randomly assigned them to receive 8 weekly 2.5 hour sessions of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) along with home practice presented either online of in-person. Before and after training they were measured for anxiety, depression, and perceived stress. In addition, the participants had their electroencephalogram (EEG) recorded while performing a task to measure threat-related attentional bias.

 

They found that after Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) there were significantly lower levels of anxiety, depression, and perceived stress. In addition, after MBCT EEG responses and response times to pictures of faces showing emotions were reduced. Hence, mindfulness training improved the psychological well-being of anxious adults in association with reduced brain responses to emotional faces.

 

As you become more mindful, you will also notice that you will become more centered, happier, and less depressed and this in turn has a direct positive effect on your anxiety.” – Stefan G. Hofmann

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Gupta, R. S., Kujawa, A., Fresco, D. M., Kang, H., & Vago, D. R. (2022). Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy: A Preliminary Examination of the (Event-Related) Potential for Modifying Threat-Related Attentional Bias in Anxiety. Mindfulness, 1–14. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-022-01910-x

 

Abstract

Objectives

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) can reduce anxiety and depression symptoms in adults with anxiety disorders, and changes in threat-related attentional bias may be a key mechanism driving the intervention’s effects on anxiety symptoms. Event-related potentials (ERPs) can illuminate the physiological mechanism through which MBCT targets threat bias and reduces symptoms of anxiety. This preliminary study examined whether P1 ERP threat–related attentional bias markers in anxious adults change from pre- to post-MBCT delivered in-person or virtually (via Zoom) and investigated the relationship between P1 threat–related attentional bias markers and treatment response.

Methods

Pre- and post-MBCT, participants with moderate to high levels of anxiety (N = 50) completed a dot-probe task with simultaneous EEG recording. Analyses focused on pre- and post-MBCT P1 amplitudes elicited by angry-neutral and happy-neutral face pair cues, probes, and reaction times in the dot-probe task and anxiety and depression symptoms.

Results

Pre- to post-MBCT, there was a significant reduction in P1-Probe amplitudes (d = .23), anxiety (d = .41) and depression (d = .80) symptoms, and reaction times (d = .10). Larger P1-Angry Cue amplitudes, indexing hypervigilance to angry faces, were associated with higher levels of anxiety both pre- and post-MBCT (d = .20). Post-MBCT, anxiety symptoms were lower in the in-person versus virtual group (d = .80).

Conclusions

MBCT may increase processing efficiency and decreases anxiety and depression symptoms in anxious adults. However, changes in threat bias specifically were generally not supported. Replication with a comparison group is needed to clarify whether changes were MBCT-specific.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9159034/

 

Virtual Mindfulness Training Improves Well-Being

Virtual Mindfulness Training Improves Well-Being

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Spending too much time planning, problem solving, daydreaming, or thinking negative or random thoughts can be draining. It also can make you more likely to experience stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression. Practicing mindfulness exercises, on the other hand, can help you direct your attention away from this kind of thinking and engage with the world around you.” – Mayo Clinic

 

Mindfulness 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. As a result, mindfulness training has been called the third wave of therapies. But the vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques require a trained teacher. The participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their schedules and at locations that may not be convenient.

 

As an alternative, training over the internet has been developed. This has 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 internet training in improving psychological well-being. The evidence is accumulating. So, it makes sense to review what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Virtual mindfulness interventions to promote well-being in adults: A mixed-methods systematic review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8765070/ ) Xu and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies on the effectiveness of mindfulness training over the internet to improve psychological well-being. They identified 32 published studies.

 

They report that the published studies found that internet-based mindfulness training produced significant improvements in well-being and mental health including reductions in anxiety and depression, perceived stress, sleep disruptions, and negative emotions and significant increases in academic performance and cognition, including reduced mind-wandering.

 

The published research indicates that on-line mindfulness training improves the well-being, mental health, and cognitive performance of students.

 

Even though the app we evaluate is vastly less expensive than in-person psychotherapy, it leads to comparable short-run improvements in mental health.” – Advik Shreekumar

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Xu, J., Jo, H., Noorbhai, L., Patel, A., & Li, A. (2022). Virtual mindfulness interventions to promote well-being in adults: A mixed-methods systematic review. Journal of affective disorders, 300, 571–585. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2022.01.027

 

Abstract

Background

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have experienced drastic changes in their academic and social lives with ensuing consequences towards their physical and mental well-being. The purpose of this systematic review is to identify virtual mindfulness-based interventions for the well-being of adults aged 19 to 40 years in developed countries and examine the efficacy of these techniques/exercises.

Methods

This mixed-methods systematic review follows the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines with a registered PROSPERO protocol. With a convergent integrated synthesis approach, IEEE Xplore, PsychInfo, Web of Science and OVID were searched with a predetermined criteria and search strategy employing booleans and filters for peer-reviewed and gray literature. Data screening and extraction were independently performed by two authors, with a third author settling disagreements after reconciliation. Study quality of selected articles was assessed with two independent authors using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT). Studies were analyzed qualitatively (precluding meta and statistical analysis) due to the heterogeneous study results from diverse study designs in present literature.

Results

Common mindfulness-based interventions used in the appraised studies included practicing basic mindfulness, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy programs (MBCT) and the Learning 2 BREATHE (L2B) program.

Conclusion

Studies implementing mindfulness interventions demonstrated an overall improvement in well-being. Modified versions of these interventions can be implemented in a virtual context, so adults can improve their well-being through an accessible format.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8765070/

 

Improve Weight Loss with Yoga Practice

Improve Weight Loss with Yoga Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga may be a promising way to help with behavioral change, weight loss, and maintenance by burning calories, heightening mindfulness, and reducing stress.” – Emily Cronkleton

 

Overweight and obesity is epidemic in the modern world. Despite copious research and a myriad of dietary and exercise programs, there still is no safe and effective weight loss method. Mindfulness is known to be associated with lower risk for obesityalter eating behavior and improve health in obesity. This suggests that mindfulness training may be an effective treatment for overweight alone or in combination with other therapies. Yoga is both an exercise and a mindfulness practice that has been shown to have a myriad of physical and psychological benefits. These include significant loss in weight and body mass index (BMI), resting metabolism, and body fat.

 

In today’s Research News article “A preliminary investigation of yoga as an intervention approach for improving long-term weight loss: A randomized trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8815874/ ) Unick and colleagues recruited overweight and obese adult women and had them complete a 12-week behavioral weight loss program including reduced caloric intake and increased exercise and weekly 1-hour group eating behavior therapy meetings. They then randomly assigned them to receive 12 weeks of twice weekly 1-hour classes of either yoga or culinary and nutrition classes. The women were measured before treatment, after the weight loss treatment (3 months), and after yoga or control treatment (6 months) for body size, physical activity, mindfulness perceived stress, distress tolerance, positive and negative emotions, and self-compassion.

 

The women lost on average 6.4 kg of weight over the behavioral weight loss treatment. They found that among the women with high weight loss (>5% body weight) after the 3-month yoga or control period those that practiced yoga had a significantly greater average weight loss, 9.0 kg, compared to controls, 6.7 kg and had significantly greater increases in mindfulness, distress tolerance, and self-compassion and significantly greater decreases in negative emotions and perceived stress.

 

The findings show that for overweight and obese women who had significant weight losses, as a result of a behavioral weight reduction program, those that practiced yoga during the succeeding 3 months lost more weight than controls. This suggests that practicing yoga after weight loss treatment produces greater further reductions in weight and improved psychological well-being.

 

So, yoga assists in long-term weight loss after a dietary program and improves psychological well-being.

 

Yoga, if done right, becomes a lifestyle change, which in turn can help increase physical activity and decrease emotional eating. And it can help you manage stress, which can also help with weight maintenance.” – Judi Barr

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Unick, J. L., Dunsiger, S. I., Bock, B. C., Sherman, S. A., Braun, T. D., & Wing, R. R. (2022). A preliminary investigation of yoga as an intervention approach for improving long-term weight loss: A randomized trial. PloS one, 17(2), e0263405. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0263405

 

Abstract

Objective

Yoga targets psychological processes which may be important for long-term weight loss (WL). This study is the first to examine the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of yoga within a weight management program following WL treatment.

Methods

60 women with overweight or obesity (34.3±3.9 kg/m2, 48.1±10.1 years) were randomized to receive a 12-week yoga intervention (2x/week; YOGA) or a structurally equivalent control (cooking/nutrition classes; CON), following a 3-month behavioral WL program. Feasibility (attendance, adherence, retention) and acceptability (program satisfaction ratings) were assessed. Treatment groups were compared on weight change, mindfulness, distress tolerance, stress, affect, and self-compassion at 6 months. Initial WL (3-mo WL) was evaluated as a potential moderator.

Results

Attendance, retention, and program satisfaction ratings of yoga were high. Treatment groups did not differ on WL or psychological constructs (with exception of one mindfulness subscale) at 6 months. However, among those with high initial WL (≥5%), YOGA lost significantly more weight (-9.0kg vs. -6.7kg) at 6 months and resulted in greater distress tolerance, mindfulness, and self-compassion and lower negative affect, compared to CON.

Conclusions

Study findings provide preliminary support for yoga as a potential strategy for improving long-term WL among those losing ≥5% in standard behavioral treatment.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8815874/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Medical Students School Performance

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Medical Students School Performance

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“in medical students . . . mindfulness meditation may be used to elicit positive emotions, minimize negative affect and rumination, and enable effective emotion regulation.” –  Michael Minichiello

 

Medical School is challenging both intellectually and psychologically. Stress levels are high, and burnout is common. It’s been estimated that 63% of medical students experience negative consequences from stress while symptoms of severe stress were present in 25% of students. High stress levels lead to lower performance in medical school and higher levels of physical and mental health problems, especially anxiety and depression. Indeed 50% of medical students report burnout and 11% have considered suicide in the last year.

 

Obviously, there is a need to either lower stress levels in medical education or find methods to assist medical students in dealing with the stress. One promising possibility is mindfulness training. It has been shown to reduce stress in students, to help with the negative consequences of stress and to reduce burnout in medical professionals. So, it would seem reasonable to suspect that mindfulness would be helpful in assisting medical students cope with the stress of their training.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness practice correlates with reduced exam-induced stress and improved exam performance in preclinical medical students with the “acting with awareness”, “non-judging” and “non-reacting” facets of mindfulness particularly associated with improved exam performance.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8864822/ ) Hearn and Stocker recruited undergraduate medical students at the end of their 2nd year of study and measured them 7 days before and immediately before their end-of-year examinations for salivary cortisol levels, perceived stress, mindfulness, and exam performance.

 

They found that just prior to the exams there were, not surprisingly, significant increases in perceived stress and salivary cortisol levels. The greater the increase in salivary cortisol levels the poorer the performance on the exams. In addition, the greater the students’ levels of mindfulness, including the acting with awareness, non-judging, and non-reactivity facet scores, the better the exam performance and the smaller the.increase in salivary cortisol.

 

These findings are correlative. So, causation cannot be determined. But these results suggest that mindfulness is associated with smaller physiological responses to stress and better grades.

 

Hence, the more mindful the students were the better their academic performance.

 

We all have a need to know ourselves better and to understand our place in the world. That’s the fundamental motivation  for students to not only think of medical training as learning a set of facts and procedures but also paying attention to their evolving relationship to the work that they do. The meaning they derive from that work, and their connection to it.” – Ronald Epstein

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Hearn, J. H., & Stocker, C. J. (2022). Mindfulness practice correlates with reduced exam-induced stress and improved exam performance in preclinical medical students with the “acting with awareness”, “non-judging” and “non-reacting” facets of mindfulness particularly associated with improved exam performance. BMC psychology, 10(1), 41. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-022-00754-3

 

Abstract

Background

Medical students demonstrate higher levels of psychological distress compared with the general population and other student groups, especially at exam times. Mindfulness interventions show promise in stress reduction for this group, and in the reduction of cortisol, an established clinical marker of the body’s stress response. This study investigated the relationship of mindfulness to exam-induced stress, salivary cortisol and exam performance in undergraduate medical students.

Methods

A controlled pre-post analysis design with within-groups comparisons. 67 medical students completed the five facet mindfulness questionnaire (FFMQ) and provided saliva samples, from which cortisol was extracted, during group work (control/baseline) and immediately prior to end of year 2 examinations (experimental). Academic performance data was extracted for comparison with measures.

Results

Exam-induced salivary cortisol concentration showed a significant negative relation with exam performance. Total FFMQ score showed a significant positive relation with exam performance and a significant negative relation with exam-induced salivary cortisol. The specific mindfulness facets of acting with awareness, non-judging and non-reacting also showed a positive correlation with exam performance.

Conclusions

This study suggests that there exists an important relationship between mindfulness and the physiological biomarker of stress, cortisol, and this manifests into improved assessment outcomes potentially through healthier, more adaptive coping and stress management strategies. In particular, this study identifies the acting with awareness, non-judging and non-reacting facets of mindfulness to be significantly associated with exam performance suggesting that these may be important facets for clinical educators to target when helping students with mindfulness practice.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8864822/

 

The Psychological Well-Being and Performance of Athletes is Associated with Mindfulness

The Psychological Well-Being and Performance of Athletes is Associated with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“So, while ‘mindfulness’ may seem like a current fad, the Zen-influenced philosophy and practice of karate training is in fact infused with mindfulness.” – Kris Chapman

 

Athletic performance requires the harmony of mind and body. Excellence is in part physical and in part psychological. That is why an entire profession of sports psychology has developed. “In sport psychology, competitive athletes are taught psychological strategies to better cope with a number of demanding challenges related to psychological functioning.” They use a number of techniques to enhance performance including mindfulness training. It has been shown to improve attention and concentration and emotion regulation and reduces anxiety and worry and rumination, and the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, mindfulness training has been employed by athletes and even by entire teams to enhance their performance.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Relationship between Mindfulness Practices and the Psychological State and Performance of Kyokushin Karate Athletes.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8997751/ ) Vveinhardt and Kaspare recruited adult Karate athletes and had them complete measures of mindfulness, meditation experience, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, emotional state, Karate experience, and duration and intensity of sporting experience.

 

They found that the higher the levels of the athletes’ mindfulness the lower the levels of anxiety, depression, and perceived stress. Further, they found that the athletes who meditated had better emotional states than those who didn’t. Finally, they found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the level of Karate performance as indicated by the belt they had obtained. Because these findings are correlative no conclusions regarding causation can be reached.

 

Hence, mindfulness was associated with better athletic performance and psychological well-being.

 

Karate combines breathing with simple meditation to help students become more relaxed and centered.” – Scott Bullard

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Vveinhardt, J., & Kaspare, M. (2022). The Relationship between Mindfulness Practices and the Psychological State and Performance of Kyokushin Karate Athletes. International journal of environmental research and public health, 19(7), 4001. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19074001

 

Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between mindfulness practices and the psychological state and qualification of kyokushin karate athletes. The survey was conducted using the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS-15) and the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21). The study involved 371 Lithuanian kyokushin karate athletes (of which 59.3% were male and 40.7% were female; 71.4% of research participants have practiced this sport for 11 and more years and have the 1st dan or a higher belt). The results of the study showed a positive impact of mindfulness in reducing stress experienced by athletes, improving their psychological state, and enhancing their athletic performance. A moderate negative correlation was identified between stress, anxiety, and mindfulness, and while the mindfulness score was increasing, the severity level of depression was decreasing. Meanwhile, the correlation of the meditation effect and anxiety with kyokushin karate 0–7 kyu belt was very weak but statistically significant. The research results could be useful not only for athletes and their coaches but also for sports organizations. After analysing the benefits of mindfulness for kyokushin karate athletes, mindfulness practices are proposed for the effective improvement of athletes’ physical and psychological state when preparing for professional-level competitions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8997751/

 

Improve Cognition at Work with Mindfulness

Improve Cognition at Work with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness has a variety of benefits — many of which can positively impact an individual’s job performance.” –  Headspace

 

Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. Indeed, the work environment has even become an important part of our social lives, with friendships and leisure time activities often attached to the people we work with. But work-related stress is epidemic in the western workplace. Almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This stress can result in impaired health and can result in burnout; producing fatigue, cynicism, and professional inefficacy. To help overcome unhappiness, stress, and burnoutmindfulness practices have been implemented in the workplace.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and music interventions in the workplace: assessment of sustained attention and working memory using a crowdsourcing approach.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9044827/ ) Axelsen and colleagues recruited adult workers online and randomly assigned them to a wait-list control condition, or to receive 10 minutes daily for 30 days of mindfulness training with the “Headspace” smartphone app, or to listen to music with a smartphone app.  Before and after the interventions the participants completed a measure of perceived stress and also engaged in playing cognitive games on their smartphones which were designed to measure sustained attention and working memory.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, both the mindfulness and music groups had significant reductions in perceived stress. Only the mindfulness group had significant increases in sustained attention and working memory. Hence, feelings of being stressed can be reduced by either mindfulness or listening to music. But mindfulness training also improves cognitive performance in workers. It is assumed but not measured that increased sustained attention in particular would produce improvements in work performance.

 

So, mindfulness training on smartphones can improve workers memory and attention.

 

Meditating at work can reduce stress and frustration, while also boosting focus, compassion, energy, and productivity.” – Headspace

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Axelsen, J. L., Meline, J., Staiano, W., & Kirk, U. (2022). Mindfulness and music interventions in the workplace: assessment of sustained attention and working memory using a crowdsourcing approach. BMC psychology, 10(1), 108. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-022-00810-y

 

Abstract

Background

Occupational stress has huge financial as well as human costs. Application of crowdsourcing might be a way to strengthen the investigation of occupational mental health. Therefore, the aim of the study was to assess Danish employees’ stress and cognition by relying on a crowdsourcing approach, as well as investigating the effect of a 30-day mindfulness and music intervention.

Methods

We translated well-validated neuropsychological laboratory- and task-based paradigms into an app-based platform using cognitive games measuring sustained attention and working memory and measuring stress via. Cohen’s Perceived Stress Scale. A total of 623 healthy volunteers from Danish companies participated in the study and were randomized into three groups, which consisted of a 30-day intervention of either mindfulness or music, or a non-intervention control group.

Results

Participants in the mindfulness group showed a significant improvement in the coefficient of sustained attention, working memory capacity and perceived stress (p < .001). The music group showed a 38% decrease of self-perceived stress. The control group showed no difference from pre to post in the survey or cognitive outcome measures. Furthermore, there was a significant correlation between usage of the mindfulness and music app and elevated score on both the cognitive games and the perceived stress scale.

Conclusion

The study supports the nascent field of crowdsourcing by being able to replicate data collected in previous well-controlled laboratory studies from a range of experimental cognitive tasks, making it an effective alternative. It also supports mindfulness as an effective intervention in improving mental health in the workplace.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9044827/