Improve Psychological Health with Mindfulness Training at Work

Improve Psychological Health with Mindfulness Training at Work

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“As an executive coach and physician, I often sing the praises of mindfulness approaches and recommend them to clients to manage stress, avoid burnout, enhance leadership capacity, and steady their minds when in the midst of making important business decisions, career transitions, and personal life changes.” – David Brendel

 

Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for our psychological and physical health. 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, more than half of employees in the U.S. and nearly 2/3 worldwide are unhappy at work. This is partially due to work-related stress which 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. Indeed, mindfulness practices have been shown to markedly reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, many businesses have incorporated mindfulness practices into the workday to help improve employee well-being, health, and productivity and reduce burnout and turnover.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Stress Reduction Program Adapted for the Work Environment: A Randomized Controlled Trial With a Follow-Up.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5954607/ ), Lacerda and colleagues recruited employees at two business locations who complained of stress and randomly assigned them to an 8-week mindfulness training or wait-list condition. At the end of the 8-weeks the wait-list group received the mindfulness training. Training occurred once a week for 60 minutes and consisted of self-awareness, empathy, stress reduction, meditation and body scan practices. The participants were measured before and after training and 8 weeks later for psychiatric symptoms, stress symptoms, depression, anxiety, processing speed, and mindfulness.

 

They found that compared to baseline and the wait-list control group, the employees who received the mindfulness training had significant reductions in non-severe psychiatric symptoms, anxiety, depression, and stress, and increases in processing speed/attention and mindfulness. These improvements were still present 8 weeks later. Hence, mindfulness training produced significant improvements in the mental health of these stressed employees.

 

It is well established that mindfulness training results in reductions in anxiety, depression, perceived stress and burnout, and improvements in cognition. The importance of this study stems from the fact that the mindfulness program only required a 1-hour commitment at work once a week to produce these improvements. This is a tolerable commitment of time for most managers and may not only improve the employees’ mental health but also lead to improvements in productivity, and reductions in turnover and health care costs. Thus, this form of training would appear to be well worth the investment.

 

So, improve psychological health with mindfulness training at work.

 

“when someone says, “Learn this so it’s second nature,” let a bell go off in your head, because that means mindlessness. The rules you were given were the rules that worked for the person who created them, and the more different you are from that person, the worse they’re going to work for you. When you’re mindful, rules, routines, and goals guide you; they don’t govern you.” – Harvard Business Review

 

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

 

Lacerda, S. S., Little, S. W., & Kozasa, E. H. (2018). A Stress Reduction Program Adapted for the Work Environment: A Randomized Controlled Trial With a Follow-Up. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 668. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00668

 

Abstract

Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate an in situ stress reduction program, named PROGRESS, developed to meet the specific needs of workers in a business context and to research its impact upon non-severe psychiatric symptoms, stress, anxiety, depression, processing speed/attention and mindfulness.

Methods: Participants with stress complaints were randomized into two groups: the main intervention group: group 1-G1, (n = 22); and the control group: group 2-G2, (n = 22). The protocol was divided into three distinct phases for the purpose of the study. Both groups were evaluated at time 1 (T1), before the first 8-week intervention, which only G1 received. The second evaluation was made on both groups at time 2 (T2), immediately after this first program; in order to test the program’s replicability and investigate possible follow-up effects, an identical second 8-week program was offered to G2 during time 3 (T3), while G1 was simply instructed to maintain the practice they had learned without further instruction between T2 and T3. A Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted to investigate the construct validity of PROGRESS.

Results: Repeated measures MANOVA test, comparing G1 and G2, showed the effect of the intervention from T1 to T2 (p = 0.021) and from T2 to T3 (p = 0.031). Univariate analysis showed that participants from G1 improved levels of non-severe psychiatric symptoms, anxiety, depression, stress, processing speed/attention and mindfulness when compared with G2, from T1 to T2 (p < 0.05). After the participants in G2 received the intervention (T2 to T3), this group also showed improvement in the same variables (p < 0.05). At the end of their follow-up period (T2-T3) – during which they received no further support or instruction – G1 maintained the improvements gained during T1-T2. The two main components were stress (stress in the last 24-h, in the last week and last month) and mental health (non-severe psychiatric symptoms, depression, anxiety and mindfulness).

Conclusion: PROGRESS, an in situ mindfulness program adapted to fit within the reality of business time constraints, was effective at replicating in more than one group the reduction of stress, depression, anxiety, non-severe psychiatric symptoms, processing speed and also the improvement of attention skills, showing sustained improvement even after 8-weeks follow-up.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5954607/

 

Improve Relaxation and Mood by Walking in a Forest

Improve Relaxation and Mood by Walking in a Forest

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Forest bathing isn’t just hiking, but it also isn’t hard to learn. It won’t necessarily change your life. But it has roots in a real, scientifically observed process, and it’s a great way to learn basic meditation.” – Nick Douglas

 

Modern living is stressful, perhaps, in part because it has divorced us from the natural world that our species was immersed in throughout its evolutionary history. Modern environments may be damaging to our health and well-being simply because the species did not evolve to cope with them. This suggests that returning to nature, at least occasionally, may be beneficial. Indeed, researchers are beginning to study nature walks or what the Japanese call “Forest Bathing” and their effects on our mental and physical health.

 

Mindfulness practices have been found routinely to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. People have long reported that walking in nature elevates their mood. It appears intuitively obvious that if it occurred in a beautiful natural place, it would greatly lift the spirits. But, there is little systematic research regarding these effects. It’s possible that walking in nature might improve relaxation and mood and relieve stress..

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Walking in Bamboo Forest and City Environments on Brainwave Activity in Young Adults.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5896408/ ), Hassan and colleagues recruited college students and randomly assigned them to one of two groups. The first group walked for 15 minutes in a bamboo forest on day one while on the second day walked for 15 minutes in a city. The second group did the same but in reverse order. Participants blood pressure and mood were measured before and after the walks and their brain activity was measured with an Electroencephalogram (EEG) during the walks.

 

They found that walking in both environments reduced blood pressure but blood pressure was significantly lower both before and after the bamboo forest walk. During the bamboo forest but not the city walks, the EEG had significant increases in rhythmic activity in the alpha (8-12 cycles per second) and theta (4-7.5 cycles per second) rhythm bands. These are the same bands that increase during meditation. There was also a significant increase in the beta (13-30 cycles per second) rhythm band which is associated with attention. In addition, after the bamboo forest walk, the students reported feeling more relaxed, comfortable, and natural, and less anxious, than after the city walk.

 

These are interesting results that demonstrate that “Forest Bathing”, walking in a bamboo forest for 15 minutes, produces both a physiological and psychological relaxation and mood improvement. The Electroencephalogram (EEG) results suggest that walking in a forest has similar effects to that of meditation. Indeed, performing walking meditation in nature has been found to significantly improve responses to stress. These results, then, are empirical support for the long-held belief that walking in nature has particularly beneficial effects.

 

So, improve relaxation and mood by walking in a forest.

 

“The idea that spending time in nature is good for our health is not new. Most of human evolutionary history was spent in environments that lack buildings and walls. Our bodies have adapted to living in the natural world. But today most of us spend much of our life indoors, or at least tethered to devices. Perhaps the new forest bathing trend is a recognition that many of us need a little nudge to get back out there.” – Allison Aubrey

 

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

 

Hassan, A., Tao, J., Li, G., Jiang, M., Aii, L., Zhihui, J., … Qibing, C. (2018). Effects of Walking in Bamboo Forest and City Environments on Brainwave Activity in Young Adults. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 2018, 9653857. http://doi.org/10.1155/2018/9653857

 

Abstract

Background. In Japan, “Shinrin-yoku” or forest bathing (spending time in forests) is a major practice used for relaxation. However, its effects on promoting human mental health are still under consideration. The objective of this study was to investigate the physiological and psychological relaxation effects of forest walking on adults. Sixty participants (50% males; 50% females) were trained to walk 15-minute predetermined courses in a bamboo forest and a city area (control). The length of the courses was the same to allow comparison of the effects of both environments. Blood pressure and EEG results were measured to assess the physiological responses and the semantic differential method (SDM) and STAI were used to study the psychological responses. Blood pressure was significantly decreased and variation in brain activity was observed in both environments. The results of the two questionnaires indicated that walking in the bamboo forest improves mood and reduces anxiety. Moreover, the mean meditation and attention scores were significantly increased after walking in a bamboo forest. The results of the physiological and psychological measurements indicate the relaxing effects of walking in a bamboo forest on adults.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5896408/

 

Mindfulness Training has Long-Lasting Positive Effects

Mindfulness Training has Long-Lasting Positive Effects

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“These findings suggest that mindfulness training has both short-term and long-term effects on coping. These effects (six years on) were found despite poor to moderate adherence to formal mindfulness practice.” – de Vibe et al.

 

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. The vast majority of studies of mindfulness, however, are conducted over relatively short periods of time, often without follow-up and if there is follow-up it is often only for a few weeks. Hence, it is not known whether mindfulness training has long-term persisting benefits that are detectable years later.

 

In today’s Research News article “Six-year positive effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on mindfulness, coping and well-being in medical and psychology students; Results from a randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5916495/ ), de Vibe and colleagues examine whether mindfulness training has detectable benefits 6 years after training. They recruited second year medical and clinical psychology students and randomly assigned them to either receive a 7-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program or a no-treatment control condition. MBSR consists of training in meditation, yoga, and body scan. The students were measured at baseline and then one month and two, four and six years after training for mindfulness, well-being, coping, and class attendance.

 

“During the six-year follow-up period, students in the intervention group were invited to participate in optional 1.5-hour mindfulness booster sessions once every semester.” Two thirds of the students attended one or no booster sessions. “During the six-year follow-up period, the number of participants in the intervention group who reported to practice formal mindfulness exercises decreased from 112 of 140 (80%), one month after the intervention to 28 of 48 (58%), at six-year follow-up.”

 

They found that in comparison to the control group and regardless of attendance at booster sessions or home practice, participants in the MBSR training demonstrated higher levels of mindfulness, improved well-being, decreased avoidance coping, and increased problem focused coping at the six year follow-up. Hence mindfulness training resulted in improvements in mindfulness, well-being, and adaptive coping ability that lasted over a six years period with no trend toward weakening.

 

These are remarkable results that suggest that the benefits of mindfulness training are not fleeting, but rather last over substantial periods of time. To my knowledge, this is the first demonstration that the effects last for such a prolonged, 6-year, period. They underscore the ability of mindfulness training to fundamentally alter the individual’s approach to life resulting in relatively permanent improvements in their mental and physical well-being.

 

So, produce long lasting positive effects with mindfulness training.

 

“mindfulness exercises can result in long-lasting positive psychological effects, especially for people new to these experiences.” – Monique Tello

 

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

 

Michael de Vibe, Ida Solhaug, Jan H. Rosenvinge, Reidar Tyssen, Adam Hanley, Eric Garland. Six-year positive effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on mindfulness, coping and well-being in medical and psychology students; Results from a randomized controlled trial, PLoS One. 2018; 13(4): e0196053. Published online 2018 Apr 24. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0196053

 

Abstract

Longitudinal research investigating the enduring impact of mindfulness training is scarce. This study investigates the six-year effects of a seven-week mindfulness-based course, by studying intervention effects in the trajectory of dispositional mindfulness and coping skills, and the association between those change trajectories and subjective well-being at six-year follow-up. 288 Norwegian medical and psychology students participated in a randomized controlled trial. 144 received a 15-hour mindfulness course over seven weeks in the second or third semester with booster sessions twice yearly, while the rest continued their normal study curricula. Outcomes were subjective well-being, and dispositional mindfulness and coping assessed using the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire and the Ways of Coping Checklist. Analyses were performed for the intention-to-treat sample, using latent growth curve models. At six-year follow-up, students receiving mindfulness training reported increased well-being. Furthermore, they reported greater increases in the trajectory of dispositional mindfulness and problem-focused coping along with greater decreases in the trajectory of avoidance-focused coping. Increases in problem-focused coping predicted increases in well-being. These effects were found despite relatively low levels of adherence to formal mindfulness practice. The findings demonstrate the viability of mindfulness training in the promotion of well-being and adaptive coping, which could contribute to the quality of care given, and to the resilience and persistence of health care professionals.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5916495/

Improve Psychological Well-Being and Productivity with Work-Place Mindfulness

Improve Psychological Well-Being and Productivity with Work-Place Mindfulness

 

“Toxic emotions disrupt the workplace, and mindfulness increases your awareness of these destructive patterns, helping you recognize them before they run rampant. It’s a way of reprogramming your mind to think in healthier, less stressful, ways.” – Drew Hansen

 

Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for our psychological and physical health. Indeed, the work environment has even become an important part of our social lives, with friendships and leisure time activities often attached to the work environment. But, more than half of employees in the U.S. and nearly 2/3 worldwide are unhappy at work. This is partially due to work-related stress which is epidemic in the western workplace. Almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This stress can result in impaired physical and mental 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. Indeed, mindfulness practices have been shown to markedly reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, it has become very trendy for business to incorporate meditation into the workday to help improve employee well-being, health, and productivity. There is a need, however, to better document the benefits of these programs.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Workplace Mindfulness Intervention May Be Associated With Improved Psychological Well-Being and Productivity. A Preliminary Field Study in a Company Setting.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00195/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_568639_69_Psycho_20180313_arts_A ), Kersemaekers and colleagues recruited employees in major European corporations and provided them with a workplace mindfulness program that consisted of 2 day-long training days plus eight 2.5 h-long sessions implemented in a group setting and included trainings in mindfulness meditation, walking meditation, pausing meditation, body scan and compassion meditation. They were also encouraged to practice at home. Participants were measured one month before, just before, and after the program for burnout, perceived stress, mindfulness, well-being, team environment; including organizational climate, team climate and personal performance, and program feasibility and satisfaction.

 

They compared the changes during the one-month baseline period to those occurring during the mindfulness training period and found that after training there were significantly greater reductions in burnout, perceived stress, particularly tension and worry, and organizational stress, and significantly greater improvements in psychological well-being and mindfulness, including presence and acceptance. There were also significant improvements in the participants perceptions of the organizational culture, including team decision making and cooperation, of the organizational climate, including atmosphere and respect, and of personal performance and productivity. There were high compliance and participation rates in the program. Hence, the workplace mindfulness program appeared to be feasible, safe, and effective.

 

The results have to be interpreted with caution as there wasn’t a control group. But, the fact that there was a one-month baseline where reactivity, bias, and time-based changes could be assessed, the conclusion would appear to be guardedly valid. Workplace mindfulness training improved the psychological well-being and mindfulness of the workers, the organizational climate, and the workers productivity. This suggests that workplace mindfulness programs can be of substantial benefit to the workers and the organization.

 

So, Improve Psychological Well-Being and Productivity with work-Place mindfulness.

 

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond winning.” – Lao Tzu

 

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

 

Kersemaekers W, Rupprecht S, Wittmann M, Tamdjidi C, Falke P, Donders R, Speckens A and Kohls N (2018) A Workplace Mindfulness Intervention May Be Associated With Improved Psychological Well-Being and Productivity. A Preliminary Field Study in a Company Setting. Front. Psychol. 9:195. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00195

 

Background: Mindfulness trainings are increasingly offered in workplace environments in order to improve health and productivity. Whilst promising, there is limited research on the effectiveness of mindfulness interventions in workplace settings.

Objective: To examine the feasibility and effectiveness of a Workplace Mindfulness Training (WMT) in terms of burnout, psychological well-being, organizational and team climate, and performance.

Methods: This is a preliminary field study in four companies. Self-report questionnaires were administered up to a month before, at start of, and right at the end of the WMT, resulting in a pre-intervention and an intervention period. There was no separate control group. A total of 425 participants completed the surveys on the different time points. Linear mixed model analyses were used to analyze the data.

Results: When comparing the intervention period with the pre-intervention period, significantly greater improvements were found in measures of burnout (mean difference = 0.3, p < 0.001), perceived stress (mean difference = -0.2, p < 0.001), mindfulness [mean difference = 1.0 for the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI) and 0.8 for the Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), both p < 0.001], and well-being (mean difference = 0.4, p < 0.001). Additionally, greater increases in team climate, organizational climate and personal performance were reported during the intervention compared to the pre-intervention period with largest improvements in team cooperation (mean difference = 0.3, p < 0.001), productivity (mean difference = 0.5, p < 0.001), and stress (mean difference = -0.4, p < 0.001). Effect sizes were large for mindfulness (d > 0.8), moderate for well-being, burnout and perceived stress (d = 0.5–0.8), and ranged from low to moderate for organizational and team climate and personal performance (d = 0.2–0.8).

Conclusion: These preliminary data suggest that compared to the pre-intervention period, the intervention period was associated with greater reductions in burnout and perceived stress, improvements in mindfulness, well-being, and increases in team and organizational climate and personal performance. Due to design limitations, no conclusions can be drawn on the extent to which the WMT or non-specific factors such as time have contributed to the findings. Further studies, preferably using randomized controlled designs with longer follow up periods are needed to evaluate whether the associations found can be attributed to the WMT and whether these sustain after the training.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00195/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_568639_69_Psycho_20180313_arts_A

 

Improve College Students Responses to Stress with Yoga

Improve College Students Responses to Stress with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga is a practice of uniting the mind and physical body as one. It combines breathing exercise, meditation, and physical positions. This combination is believed to reduce many physical and mental ailments that are caused by stress.” – Rebecca Chasar

 

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. As a result, parents and students are constantly looking for ways to improve student performance in school. The primary tactic has been to pressure the student and clear away routine tasks and chores so that the student can focus on their studies. But, this might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s mental health, well-being, and school performance.

 

It is, for the most part, beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress, so it is important that methods be found to reduce the college students’ responses to stress; to make them more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices including meditation, mindfulness training, and yoga practice have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. In, addition, exercise if also know to reduce responses to stress. But, nearly half of college students are physically inactive. So, yoga, which is both a mindfulness practice and a physical activity should be particularly effective.

 

In today’s Research News article “Psychophysiological effects of yoga on stress in college students.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5868218/  ), Tripathi and colleagues review the published research literature on the effectiveness of yoga practice to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress in college students.

 

They report yoga training has been found to reduce autonomic arousal, reducing sympathetic nervous system activity and increasing parasympathetic nervous system activity. Since, physiological arousal is characteristic of stress responding, yoga practice reduces this physiological marker of stress. Yoga practice reduces perceived stress, tension, sleepiness, worry, and negative emotions and increases relaxation, mental quiet, peace, rest, strength, awareness and joy, thereby improving psychological well-being. Hence, the existing research suggests that yoga practice may be valuable in helping college students cope with the physical and mental consequences of stress and thereby improve their performance in school.

 

So, improve college students responses to stress with yoga.

 

“As science continues to understand the negative effects of stress on our mental and physical bodies, techniques like meditation and yoga that were once considered fringe are becoming prolifically mainstream.  If we can begin to understand and utilize these techniques before stress becomes an issue, then these tools can be even more valuable.” – Kelly Golden

 

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

 

Tripathi, M. N., Kumari, S., & Ganpat, T. S. (2018). Psychophysiological effects of yoga on stress in college students. Journal of Education and Health Promotion, 7, 43. http://doi.org/10.4103/jehp.jehp_74_17

 

Abstract

College students are vulnerable to a critical period in developmental maturation, facing rigorous academic work, and learning how to function independently. Physical activities such as running and bicycling have been shown to improve mood and relieve stress. However, college students often have low levels of physical activity. Yoga is an ancient physical and mental activity that affects mood and stress. However, studies examining the psychophysiological effects of yoga are rare in peer-reviewed journals. The aim of this study is to establish preliminary evidence for the psychophysiological effects of yoga on stress in young-adult college students. The present study suggests that yoga has positive effects on a psychophysiological level that leads to decreased levels of stress in college student. Further research is needed to examine the extent to which different types of yogic practices address the needs of different college subpopulations (e.g., overweight, sedentary, and smokers).

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5868218/

Improve Student Resilience to Stress with Mindfulness

Improve Student Resilience to Stress with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“This is, to the best of our knowledge, the most robust study to date to assess mindfulness training for students, and backs up previous studies that suggest it can improve mental health and wellbeing during stressful periods.” – Julieta Galante

 

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. As a result, parents and students are constantly looking for ways to improve student performance in school. The primary tactic has been to pressure the student and clear away routine tasks and chores so that the student can focus on their studies. But, this might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s 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 individuals’ responses to stress; to make them more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices including meditation, mindfulness training, and yoga practice have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in increasing resilience and coping with the school environment and for both students and teachers. So, perhaps, mindfulness training may be helpful for college students to better cope with stress and improve their well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “A mindfulness-based intervention to increase resilience to stress in university students (the Mindful Student Study): a pragmatic randomised controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5813792/ ), Galante and colleagues recruited healthy college students and randomly assigned them to receive either 8 weeks of mindfulness training or to support as usual from the university counseling center. The mindfulness course consisted of 8 weekly sessions of 75-90 minutes teaching mindfulness skills adapted for college students. The mindfulness students were encouraged to practice for 15 minutes daily at home. They were measured before and after training and during the examination period for psychological distress, mental health problems, well-being, sleep and activity levels, examination scores, and altruism.

 

They found that after training and during the examination period the students who had received the mindfulness training had significantly less psychological distress and greater well-being than the support as usual students. Hence mindfulness training appeared to improve the students psychological state in general and particularly during the stressful examination period. This suggests that the training improved the students’ resilience in the face of stress and this in turn improved their psychological state. Training in mindfulness may be an important component in education to improve the students’ abilities to cope with the pressure and stresses of higher education.

 

So, improve student resilience to stress with mindfulness.

 

“Students who had been practising mindfulness had distress scores lower than their baseline levels even during exam time, which suggests that mindfulness helps build resilience against stress.” – Julieta Galante

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Julieta Galante, Géraldine Dufour, Maris Vainre, Adam P Wagner, Jan Stochl, Alice Benton, Neal Lathia, Emma Howarth, Prof Peter B Jones. A mindfulness-based intervention to increase resilience to stress in university students (the Mindful Student Study): a pragmatic randomised controlled trial. Lancet Public Health. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2018 Feb 15. Published in final edited form as: Lancet Public Health. 2018 Feb; 3(2): e72–e81. Published online 2017 Dec 19. doi: 10.1016/S2468-2667(17)30231-1

 

Summary

Background

The rising number of young people going to university has led to concerns about an increasing demand for student mental health services. We aimed to assess whether provision of mindfulness courses to university students would improve their resilience to stress.

Methods

We did this pragmatic randomised controlled trial at the University of Cambridge, UK. Students aged 18 years or older with no severe mental illness or crisis (self-assessed) were randomly assigned (1:1), via remote survey software using computer-generated random numbers, to receive either an 8 week mindfulness course adapted for university students (Mindfulness Skills for Students [MSS]) plus mental health support as usual, or mental health support as usual alone. Participants and the study management team were aware of group allocation, but allocation was concealed from the researchers, outcome assessors, and study statistician. The primary outcome was self-reported psychological distress during the examination period, as measured with the Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation Outcome Measure (CORE–OM), with higher scores indicating more distress. The primary analysis was by intention to treat. This trial is registered with the Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, number ACTRN12615001160527.

Findings

Between Sept 28, 2015, and Jan 15, 2016, we randomly assigned 616 students to the MSS group (n=309) or the support as usual group (n=307). 453 (74%) participants completed the CORE–OM during the examination period and 182 (59%) MSS participants completed at least half of the course. MSS reduced distress scores during the examination period compared with support as usual, with mean CORE–OM scores of 0·87 (SD 0·50) in 237 MSS participants versus 1·11 (0·57) in 216 support as usual participants (adjusted mean difference –0·14, 95% CI –0·22 to –0·06; p=0·001), showing a moderate effect size (β –0·44, 95% CI –0·60 to –0·29; p<0·0001). 123 (57%) of 214 participants in the support as usual group had distress scores above an accepted clinical threshold compared with 88 (37%) of 235 participants in the MSS group. On average, six students (95% CI four to ten) needed to be offered the MSS course to prevent one from experiencing clinical levels of distress. No participants had adverse reactions related to self-harm, suicidality, or harm to others.

Interpretation

Our findings show that provision of mindfulness training could be an effective component of a wider student mental health strategy. Further comparative effectiveness research with inclusion of controls for non-specific effects is needed to define a range of additional, effective interventions to increase resilience to stress in university students.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5813792/

 

Improve Psychological Health with Dynamic Mindfulness

Improve Psychological Health with Dynamic Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Ultimately, engaging in mindfulness meditation cultivates our ability to both focus and broaden our attention, which is a practical way to elicit psychological well-being.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. Techniques such as Mindfulness Training, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as well as Yoga practice and Tai Chi or Qigong practice have been demonstrated to be effective. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.

 

“Langerian mindfulness is defined as the process of paying attention on purpose to the present moment, of being aware of novelty in experiences or situations, and of perceiving differences in contexts and events.” This is a more dynamic view of mindfulness than the view contained in most measures of mindfulness. It includes the classic idea of mindfulness but also extends it to include impermanence and the ever-changing nature of reality. It emphasizes the continuous dynamic change that produces novelty in every present moment. This view of mindfulness, however, has not been examined for its benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “Langerian mindfulness, quality of life and psychological symptoms in a sample of Italian students.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5801901/ ), Pagnini and colleagues examine the relationship of Langerian mindfulness with psychological well-being. They recruited college students and measured their levels of mindfulness with the Langer Mindfulness Scale. In addition, the students completed measures of quality of life, including physical, psychological, social relationships, and environment dimensions, and measures of psychological symptoms, including somatization, obsessive compulsive disorder, interpersonal sensitivity, depression, anxiety, hostility, phobic anxiety, paranoid ideation and psychoticism.

 

They found that the higher the levels of Langerian mindfulness, including novelty seeking, novelty producing, and particularly engagement, the higher the levels of physical and psychological health, and the lower the levels of psychological symptoms, including obsessive compulsive disorder, interpersonal sensitivity, depression, hostility, and phobic anxiety. The study was correlational, so no conclusions regarding causation can be reached.

 

The results indicate that Langerian mindfulness is associated with higher levels of physical and mental health. This further suggests that maintaining openness and attention to novelty throughout one’s daily life is associated with mental and physical wellness. It is not clear whether this dynamic, Langerian, view of mindfulness produces clear associations than the classic more static mindfulness view. It remains for future research to compare the two approaches and actively manipulate their levels through training to conclusively demonstrate that Langerian mindfulness causes improvements in mental and physical health.

 

So, improve psychological health with dynamic mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness also allows us to become more aware of the stream of thoughts and feelings that we experience and to see how we can become entangled in that stream in ways that are not helpful.” – Mark Williams

 

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

 

Francesco Pagnini, Katherine E. Bercovitz, Deborah Phillips. Langerian mindfulness, quality of life and psychological symptoms in a sample of Italian students. Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2018; 16: 29. Published online 2018 Feb 6. doi: 10.1186/s12955-018-0856-4

 

Abstract

Background

Noticing new things, accepting the continuously changing nature of circumstances, and flexibly shifting perspectives in concert with changing contexts constitute the essential features of Langerian mindfulness. This contrasts with a “mindless” approach in which one remains fixed in a singular mindset and is closed off to new possibilities. Despite potentially important clinical applications for this construct, few studies have explored them. The instrument developed to measure Langerian mindfulness is the Langer Mindfulness Scale (LMS), although this tool has been limited primarily to English-speaking populations. The study aimed to test LMS validity in the Italian language and to analyze the relationships between Langerian mindfulness and well-being.

Methods

We translated the LMS into Italian, analyzed its factor structure, and investigated the correlation between mindfulness and quality of life and psychological well-being in a sample of 248 Italian students (88.7% females, mean age 20.05). A confirmatory factor analysis confirmed the tri-dimensional structure of the English LMS in the Italian version.

Results

The primary analysis found a significant negative correlation between mindfulness and psychological symptoms including obsessive-compulsive tendencies, depression, anxiety, and paranoid ideation. There was also a positive correlation between mindfulness and reports of quality of life.

Conclusions

The Italian LMS appears reliable and it shows relevant correlations with well-being.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5801901/

Improve Psychological Health with Mindfulness Smartphone Aps

Improve Psychological Health with Mindfulness Smartphone Aps

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“With apps reaching more people than face-to-face teaching can, he says, “nothing will influence how mindfulness is perceived and practised in our culture more in the next 20 years”. – Amy Fleming

 

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 “Efficacy of a Mindfulness-Based Mobile Application: a Randomized Waiting-List Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5770479/ ), van Emmerik and colleagues recruited adults who had an interest in mindfulness and spirituality through social media and randomly assigned them to either a mindfulness App group or a wait-list control group.

 

The mindfulness App participants were directed to download from the App Store of Google Play Store the VGZ Mindfulness Coach App and complete the 5-week program consisting of 25 exercises including “breathing exercises, attention exercises, body scan exercises, guided meditation exercises, visualization exercises, mantra exercises, and yoga exercises.” The participants were measured before the program and 8 and 20 weeks later for mindfulness, including the observing, describing, non-reacting, non-judging, and acting with awareness facets, quality of life, including physical health, psychological health, social relationships and environment, psychiatric symptomology, self-actualization, and satisfaction with the App.

 

They found that the App produced large significant increases in mindfulness including all five facets, psychological health, social relationships and environment, and decreases in psychiatric symptomology. In addition, the participants reported a high degree of satisfaction and engagement with the App. Hence, the mindfulness App group evidenced marked improvement in mindfulness and psychological health.

 

The results need to be interpreted with caution as the study did not contain an active control condition. This leaves open the possibility that the results were affected by biases such as placebo effects, demand characteristics, experimenter bias, etc. Nevertheless, with these caveats in mind, the results suggest that mindfulness can be increased with a smartphone app which may, in turn, improve psychological health in otherwise healthy individuals. This is exciting as the low cost, convenience, and ease of use, of such Apps allows for widespread applicability. This may provide a low-cost means of improving the mindfulness and psychological health of large swaths of the general population.

 

So, improve psychological health with mindfulness smartphone Aps.

 

“Every app uses varying voices, work flow styles, and types of guided meditation. . . At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you feel drawn to practice everyday.” – Marylyn Wei

 

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

 

Arnold A. P. van Emmerik, Fieke Berings, Jaap Lancee. Efficacy of a Mindfulness-Based Mobile Application: a Randomized Waiting-List Controlled Trial. Mindfulness (N Y) 2018; 9(1): 187–198. Published online 2017 Jun 21. doi: 10.1007/s12671-017-0761-7

 

Abstract

Although several hundreds of apps are available that (cl)aim to promote mindfulness, only a few methodologically sound studies have evaluated the efficacy of these apps. This randomized waiting-list controlled trial therefore tested the hypothesis that one such app (the VGZ Mindfulness Coach) can achieve immediate and long-term improvements of mindfulness, quality of life, general psychiatric symptoms, and self-actualization. One hundred ninety-one experimental participants received the VGZ Mindfulness Coach, which offers 40 mindfulness exercises and background information about mindfulness without any form of therapeutic guidance. Compared to 186 control participants, they reported large (Cohen’s d = 0.77) and statistically significant increases of mindfulness after 8 weeks and small-to-medium increases of the Observing, Describing, Acting with awareness, Nonjudging, and Nonreactivity mindfulness facets as measured with the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (Cohen’s d = 0.66, 0.26, 0.49, 0.34, and 0.43, respectively). Also, there were large decreases of general psychiatric symptoms (GHQ-12; Cohen’s d = −0.68) and moderate increases of psychological, social, and environmental quality of life (WHOQOL-BREF; Cohen’s d = 0.38, 0.38, and 0.36, respectively). Except for social quality of life, these gains were maintained for at least 3 months. We conclude that it is possible to achieve durable positive effects on mindfulness, general psychiatric symptoms, and several aspects of quality of life at low costs with smartphone apps for mindfulness such as the VGZ Mindfulness Coach.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5770479/

Improve Psychological Well-Being in the Elderly with Mild Memory Loss with Meditation

Improve Psychological Well-Being in the Elderly with Mild Memory Loss with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all the answers we’re looking for when it comes to ending memory loss could be gained by simply doing KK for 12 minutes each morning? Perhaps that magic bullet is already here, waiting to be discovered in each and every one of us after all. Now, wouldn’t that be grand?” – Dharma Singh Khalsa

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. It cannot be avoided. Our mental abilities may also decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem solving ability. These are called age related cognitive decline. This occurs to everyone as they age, but to varying degrees. Some deteriorate into a dementia, while others maintain high levels of cognitive capacity into very advanced ages. It is estimated that around 30% of the elderly show significant age related cognitive decline. These cognitive declines markedly increase the risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. The declines occur along with sleep disruptions declines in mental health and quality of life, which in turn, appear to exacerbate the decline.

 

There is some hope, however, for those who are prone to deterioration as there is evidence that these cognitive declines can be slowed. For example, a healthy diet and a regular program of exercise can slow the physical decline of the body with aging. Also, contemplative practices such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi or qigong have all been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging. Indeed, mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Meditation versus Music Listening on Perceived Stress, Mood, Sleep, and Quality of Life in Adults with Early Memory Loss: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5649740/ ), Innes and colleagues recruited community living adults over 50 years of age and experiencing memory problems and slight cognitive decline. They were randomly assigned to 12-week, 12 minutes per day, programs of classical music listening or Kirtan Kriya meditation, performed while sitting comfortably with eyes closed. At the first session the participants received 35-minute instruction on relaxation and their specific program and then provided DVDs for daily home practice. Kirtan Kriya meditation included signing a mantra, successive finger touching and visualization exercises. After the 12 weeks of practice participants were free to continue practicing if they wished. They were measured before and after the 12-week programs and 14 weeks later for body size, sleep quality, perceived stress, health-related quality of life, psychological well-being, mood, memory, and cognitive performance.

 

Retention and participation were high, with 92% of the music listening participants and 88% of the meditation participants completing the program. Participants completed 93% of the required session and 73% of the optional sessions during the second 14-week period. This indicates that the participants found the programs enjoyable and worth their time and effort.

 

Over the 12-week program, both groups showed significant improvements in sleep quality, perceived stress, health-related quality of life, psychological well-being, and mood. These improvements were either sustained or further improved over the subsequent 14 weeks. The meditation group had significantly greater improvements than the music listening group in perceived stress, mood, psychological well-being, and mental health quality of life. In addition, the greater the improvements in mood, stress, sleep, well-being, and quality of life, the greater the improvements in memory function. Hence, the two forms of relaxation produced improvements in the participants well-being which were related to improvements in memory. But, meditation had a greater impact then music listening.

 

These results are quite remarkable that such simple practices for only 12 minutes per day can have such profound effects on the well-being of aging individuals with slight cognitive decline. This could potentially delay of lower the likelihood that the decline will continue into dementia of Alzheimer’s Disease. It is important that the effects were lasting and participation high, both of which suggest that the meditation program can be easily and inexpensively applied to large groups of community-based aging individuals.

 

So, improve psychological well-being in the elderly with mild memory loss with meditation

 

“Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) can affect up to 20% of the population at any one time—and half of them will progress to full-on dementia. Now, a recent study . . .  finds as little as 15 minutes of daily meditation can significantly slow that progression.” – Nina Elias

 

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

 

Innes, K. E., Selfe, T. K., Khalsa, D. S., & Kandati, S. (2016). Effects of Meditation versus Music Listening on Perceived Stress, Mood, Sleep, and Quality of Life in Adults with Early Memory Loss: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease : JAD, 52(4), 1277–1298. http://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-151106

 

Abstract

Background

Older adults with subjective cognitive decline (SCD) are at increased risk not only for Alzheimer’s disease, but for poor mental health, impaired sleep, and diminished quality of life (QOL), which in turn, contribute to further cognitive decline, highlighting the need for early intervention.

Objective

In this randomized controlled trial, we assessed the effects of two 12-week relaxation programs, Kirtan Kriya Meditation (KK) and music listening (ML), on perceived stress, sleep, mood, and health-related QOL in older adults with SCD.

Methods

Sixty community-dwelling older adults with SCD were randomized to a KK or ML program and asked to practice 12 minutes daily for 12 weeks, then at their discretion for the following 3 months. At baseline, 12 weeks, and 26 weeks, perceived stress, mood, psychological well-being, sleep quality, and health-related QOL were measured using well-validated instruments.

Results

Fifty-three participants (88%) completed the 6-month study. Participants in both groups showed significant improvement at 12 weeks in psychological well-being and in multiple domains of mood and sleep quality (p’s ≤ 0.05). Relative to ML, those assigned to KK showed greater gains in perceived stress, mood, psychological well-being, and QOL-Mental Health (p’s ≤ 0.09). Observed gains were sustained or improved at 6 months, with both groups showing marked and significant improvement in all outcomes. Changes were unrelated to treatment expectancies.

Conclusions

Findings suggest that practice of a simple meditation or ML program may improve stress, mood, well-being, sleep, and QOL in adults with SCD, with benefits sustained at 6 months and gains that were particularly pronounced in the KK group.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5649740/

Improve Well-Being in the Elderly with Tai Chi

Improve Well-Being in the Elderly with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Practising the ancient martial art of Tai Chi is so beneficial to elderly people’s health that it should be “the preferred mode of training”, according to scientists.” – The Telegraph

 

We celebrate the increasing longevity of the population. But, aging is a mixed blessing. The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline of the body and the brain. Every system in the body deteriorates including motor function with a decline in strength, flexibility, and balance. It is inevitable. In addition, many elderly experience withdrawal and isolation from social interactions. There is some hope as there is evidence that these declines can be slowed. For example, a healthy diet and a regular program of exercise can slow the physical decline of the body with aging. Also, contemplative practices such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi or qigong have all been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline.

 

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. Only recently though have the effects of Tai Chi practice been scrutinized with empirical research. But, it has been found to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. It appears to strengthen the immune systemreduce inflammation and increase the number of cancer killing cells in the bloodstream. Because Tai Chi is not strenuous, involving slow gentle movements, and is safe, having no appreciable side effects, it is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. Tai Chi has been shown to help the elderly improve attentionbalance, reducing fallsarthritiscognitive functionmemory, and reduce age related deterioration of the brain.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of tai chi qigong on psychosocial well-being among hidden elderly, using elderly neighborhood volunteer approach: a pilot randomized controlled trial.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5221552/, Chan and colleagues recruited “hidden elderly” participants, who were over 60 years of age and did not participate in any social activities. They were randomly assigned to either a control condition which received usual care or to receive Tai Chi practice for 60 minutes, twice a week for 3 months and were encouraged to practice at home for 30 minutes daily. They were measured before and after the 3-month practice period and 3 months later for their social network, social support, loneliness, mental health, self-esteem, and health quality of life.

 

They found compared to baseline and the control group that the group that practiced Tai Chi had significant improvements in loneliness, social support, and their physical quality of life that persisted for the three month follow-up period. There were no adverse events and the participants indicated that they were pleased with the practice. Hence, practicing Tai Chi was safe, acceptable, and effective; significantly improving the social, psychological, and physical conditions of the “hidden elderly.”

 

It is not clear that Tai Chi practice per se produced the benefits. Since the practice was twice a week in a group condition, these individuals who did not participate in social activities prior to the study, were thrust into a social context as a prerequisite for participation. Hence, the improvement in their social condition and their loneliness may be simply due to the required social participation. In future research, there needs to be a control condition with comparable social participation to ascertain if Tai Chi practice or simply social participation was responsible for the improvements.

 

Regardless of whether Tai Chi was responsible or not, getting the “hidden elderly” out of their isolated situation and engaging in social activities is important for their psychological and physical well-being. Tai Chi is safe and acceptable for the elderly, is a light exercise, can be practiced virtually anywhere at little of no cost, and promotes social engagement. So, it would seem to be an almost ideal vehicle to promote the well-being of the elderly.

 

So, improve well-being in the elderly with Tai Chi.

 

“With its integrative approach that strengthens the body while focusing the mind, tai chi addresses a range of physical and mental health issues—including bone strength, joint stability, cardiovascular health, immunity, and emotional well-being. Tai chi is especially useful for improving balance and preventing falls—a major concern for older adults.” – Stephanie Watson

 

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

 

Chan, A. W., Yu, D. S., & Choi, K. (2017). Effects of tai chi qigong on psychosocial well-being among hidden elderly, using elderly neighborhood volunteer approach: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 12, 85–96. http://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S124604

 

Abstract

Purpose

To test the feasibility and preliminary effectiveness of a tai chi qigong program with the assistance of elderly neighborhood volunteers in strengthening social networks and enhancing the psychosocial well-being of hidden elderly.

Patients and methods

“Hidden elderly” is a term used to describe older adults who are socially isolated and refuse social participation. This pilot randomized controlled trial recruited 48 older adults aged 60 or above who did not engage in any social activity. They were randomized into tai chi qigong (n=24) and standard care control (n=24) groups. The former group underwent a three-month program of two 60-minute sessions each week, with the socially active volunteers paired up with them during practice. Standard care included regular home visits by social workers. Primary outcomes were assessed by means of the Lubben social network and De Jong Gieveld loneliness scales, and by a revised social support questionnaire. Secondary outcomes were covered by a mental health inventory and the Rosenberg self-esteem scale, and quality of life by using the 12-Item Short Form Health Survey. Data was collected at baseline, and at three and six months thereafter.

Results

The generalized estimating equations model revealed general improvement in outcomes among participants on the tai chi qigong program. In particular, participants reported a significantly greater improvement on the loneliness scale (B=−1.32, 95% confidence interval [CI] −2.54 to −0.11, P=0.033) and the satisfaction component of the social support questionnaire (B=3.43, 95% CI 0.10–6.76, P=0.044) than the control group.

Conclusion

The pilot study confirmed that tai chi qigong with elderly neighborhood volunteers is a safe and feasible social intervention for hidden elderly. Its potential benefits in improving social and psychological health suggest the need for a full-scale randomized controlled trial to reveal its empirical effects.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5221552/