Improve Psychological Well-Being in Patients with Fever Undergoing Covid-19 Screening with Mindfulness

Improve Psychological Well-Being in Patients with Fever Undergoing Covid-19 Screening with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness-based approaches appear well-suited to deal with the challenges presented by the time of unpresented uncertainty, change, and loss, which can take many forms in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.” – Elena Antonova

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being in healthy individuals. 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. One of the primary effects of mindfulness that may be responsible for many of its benefits is that it improves the physiological and psychological responses to stress. The COVID-19 pandemic is extremely stressful particularly for patients running a fever and being screened for Covid-19.  So, mindfulness, because of its ability to improve stress responding, may be helpful in coping with the mental challenges of awaiting COVID-19 test results.

 

In today’s Research News article “Using Mindfulness to Reduce Anxiety and Depression of Patients With Fever Undergoing Screening in an Isolation Ward During the COVID-19 Outbreak.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.664964/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1651992_69_Psycho_20210603_arts_A )  Liu and colleagues recruited adult patients who had a fever and were undergoing screening in a hospital for Covid-19. They were randomly assigned either to no-treatment or a very brief (25 minute) mindfulness instruction while awaiting test results. They were measured at the time of admissions and again just before test results for positive and negative emotions, distress, satisfaction with life, anger, anxiety, and depression.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment controls, the participants who had received brief mindfulness instruction had significantly lower anger, distress, anxiety, depression, and need for help and higher satisfaction with life. Hence, the brief mindfulness instruction improved the mood and psychological well-being of these patients during a very stressful time of awaiting Covid-19 test results.

 

Mindfulness has been previously found to be effective in reducing anger, distress, anxiety, and depression, and increasing satisfaction with life. What the present study demonstrates is that these benefits can occur after a very brief instruction for patients in a very stressful situation. This suggests that brief mindfulness instruction should be incorporated into the routine treatment of patients under high short-term stress.

 

So, improve psychological well-being in patients with fever undergoing Covid-19 screening with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness is an increasingly accessible intervention available world-wide that may reduce psychological distress during this isolating public health crisis.” – Susan Farris

 

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

 

Liu Y, Huyang S, Tan H, He Y, Zhou J, Li X, Ye M, Huang J and Wu D (2021) Using Mindfulness to Reduce Anxiety and Depression of Patients With Fever Undergoing Screening in an Isolation Ward During the COVID-19 Outbreak. Front. Psychol. 12:664964. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.664964

 

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to spread globally. This infectious disease affects people not only physically but also psychologically. Therefore, an effective psychological intervention program needs to be developed to improve the psychological condition of patients screened for fever during this period. This study aimed to investigate the effect of a brief mindfulness intervention on patients with suspected fever in a screening isolation ward awaiting results of the COVID-19 test. The Faces Scale and the Emotional Thermometer Tool were used to investigate 51 patients who were randomly divided into an intervention group and a control group. All patients completed self-rating questionnaires online at the time they entered the isolation ward and before they were informed of the results. The intervention group listened to the mindfulness audios through hospital broadcasts in the isolation ward before their lunch break and while they slept. Compared with the control group, the intervention group’s life satisfaction score increased (F = 4.02, p = 0.051) and the emotional thermometer score decreased (F = 8.89, p = 0.005). The anxiety scores (F = 9.63, p = 0.003) and the needing help scores decreased significantly (F = 4.95, p = 0.031). Distress (F = 1.41, p = 0.241), depression (F = 1.93, p = 0.171), and anger (F = 3.14, p = 0.083) also decreased, but did not reach significance. Brief mindfulness interventions can alleviate negative emotions and improve the life satisfaction of patients in the isolation ward who were screened for COVID-19 during the waiting period.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.664964/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1651992_69_Psycho_20210603_arts_A

 

Mindfulness Improves Physical and Mental Well-Being

Mindfulness Improves Physical and Mental Well-Being

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“scientists have found that practicing mindfulness is associated with changes in the structure and function of the brain as well as changes in our body’s response to stress, suggesting that this practice has important impacts on our physical and emotional health.” –  University of Minnesota

 

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

 

Research on mindfulness effects on mental and physical health has exploded over the last few decades. So, it makes sense to pause and examine what has been learned. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based interventions: an overall review” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8083197/ )  Zhang and colleagues reviewed and summarized the randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses of the effects of mindfulness-based practices on mental and physical health.

 

They report that the published research studies and meta-analyses found that mindfulness-based practices produced significant improvements in mental health including anxiety, depression, anger, prosocial behavior, loneliness, physiological and psychological indicators of stress, insomnia, eating disorders, addictions, psychoses, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism. They also report that mindfulness-based practices produced significant improvements in physical health including pain, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), aggression, and violence.

 

In addition, mindfulness-based practices produced safe, cost-effective improvements in professional and healthcare settings, in schools, and in the workplace. Further they report that mindfulness-based practices produced significant changes in the structure and activity of the nervous system, improvements in immune functioning and physiological markers of stress.

 

The review of the published research has provided a compelling case for the utilization of mindfulness-based practices for a myriad of psychological and physical problems in humans of all ages with and without disease. The range and depth of effects are unprecedented making a strong case for the routine training in mindfulness for the improvement of their well-being.

 

So, mindfulness improves physical and mental well-being.

 

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

 

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

 

Zhang, D., Lee, E., Mak, E., Ho, C. Y., & Wong, S. (2021). Mindfulness-based interventions: an overall review. British medical bulletin, ldab005. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1093/bmb/ldab005

 

Abstract

Introduction

This is an overall review on mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs).

Sources of data

We identified studies in PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, AMED, Web of Science and Google Scholar using keywords including ‘mindfulness’, ‘meditation’, and ‘review’, ‘meta-analysis’ or their variations.

Areas of agreement

MBIs are effective for improving many biopsychosocial conditions, including depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, addiction, psychosis, pain, hypertension, weight control, cancer-related symptoms and prosocial behaviours. It is found to be beneficial in the healthcare settings, in schools and workplace but further research is warranted to look into its efficacy on different problems. MBIs are relatively safe, but ethical aspects should be considered. Mechanisms are suggested in both empirical and neurophysiological findings. Cost-effectiveness is found in treating some health conditions.

Areas of controversy

Inconclusive or only preliminary evidence on the effects of MBIs on PTSD, ADHD, ASD, eating disorders, loneliness and physical symptoms of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and respiratory conditions. Furthermore, some beneficial effects are not confirmed in subgroup populations. Cost-effectiveness is yet to confirm for many health conditions and populations.

Growing points

Many mindfulness systematic reviews and meta-analyses indicate low quality of included studies, hence high-quality studies with adequate sample size and longer follow-up period are needed.

Areas timely for developing research

More research is needed on online mindfulness trainings and interventions to improve biopsychosocial health during the COVID-19 pandemic; Deeper understanding of the mechanisms of MBIs integrating both empirical and neurophysiological findings; Long-term compliance and effects of MBIs; and development of mindfulness plus (mindfulness+) or personalized mindfulness programs to elevate the effectiveness for different purposes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8083197/

Mindfulness is Associated with Forgiveness and Reduced Anger Rumination

Mindfulness is Associated with Forgiveness and Reduced Anger Rumination

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Forgiveness demands presence, reminding us that we are not the same as the feelings we possess in a given situation, nor is the person who we’ve harmed or who has harmed us.” – Sharon Salzberg.

 

Forgiveness is important to happiness and psychological well-being. It allows one to move beyond anger and resentment. It is an adaptive ability to move beyond a perceived transgression by another, not by ignoring or denying it, but by reframing it so the response moves away from negativity. This is true not only of others but also the self. Self-forgiveness is essential for psychological well-being. There is emerging research on forgiveness but much has yet to be explored regarding the processes that lead to and improve forgiveness. Mindfulness has been found to be associated with higher levels of forgiveness. So, it makes sense to explore the processes by which mindfulness is associated with forgiveness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Anger Rumination and Mindfulness: Mediating Effects on Forgiveness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7967311/ ) de la Fuente-Anuncibay and colleagues recruited university students who practiced mindfulness informally and those who were naïve to mindfulness practice. They completed measures of mindfulness, forgiveness, including self-forgiveness, forgiveness towards others and situation-forgiveness subscales, and anger, including angry or rage memories, understanding the causes of the anger, thoughts after the anger and thoughts of revenge subscales.

 

They found that the students who practiced mindfulness had significantly higher levels of forgiveness that those who didn’t. Further they found that mindfulness was associated with higher levels of forgiveness directly and also indirectly by being associated with lower levels of anger rumination which was in turn were associated with smaller reductions in forgiveness. Further analysis using the anger rumination subscales revealed that mindfulness was associated with decreased levels of anger revenge as opposed to anger memories.

 

This study is correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. Nevertheless, the associations are clear. Mindful people are more forgiving than less mindful people, and they also have a lower need for revenge for transgressions This lower revenge is also associated with forgiveness. Future research should investigate the effects of mindfulness training on anger and forgiveness to determine causation.

 

The results demonstrate as has previous research, that mindful people are forgiving people. This makes them better at social interactions as they are less likely to hold grudges. But importantly mindful people are also self-forgiving. This is extremely important for the mental health of the individual. Everyone is imperfect and makes mistakes. If this can be realized and the imperfections forgiven mental well-being can be vastly improved. Hence, mindful forgiveness is an important contributor to the overall happiness and well-being of the individual.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with forgiveness and reduced anger rumination.

 

the more you practice mindfulness, the more you strengthen your capacity for forgiveness.” – Stefanie Goldstein

 

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

 

de la Fuente-Anuncibay, R., González-Barbadillo, Á., Ortega-Sánchez, D., Ordóñez-Camblor, N., & Pizarro-Ruiz, J. P. (2021). Anger Rumination and Mindfulness: Mediating Effects on Forgiveness. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(5), 2668. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18052668

 

Abstract

(1) Background: Different investigations relate mindfulness practice as a strategy to cope with and improve negative repetitive thinking states and forgiveness. (2) Methods: The aim is to analyze the mediating processes of mindfulness as a trait and the changes in the anger rumination on forgiveness. This sample comprised 264 undergraduate students (M = 24.13 years, SD = 11.39). The instruments used were the Anger Rumination Scale (ARS), the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) and the Heartland Forgiveness Scale (HFS). For data analysis, the spillover effect was calculated using 10,000 bootstrap samples for the bootstrap confidence intervals (CI). (3) Conclusions: The results confirm that the relationship between mindfulness practice and forgiveness is mediated by changes in mindfulness trait and anger rumination. Given the results obtained, it is considered appropriate to extend the study to samples from other countries, as well as to contexts of depressive rumination or anxiety.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7967311/

 

rjpizarro@ubu.es

Mindful Eating is Related to Less Binge Eating and Fewer Mood Disorders

Mindful Eating is Related to Less Binge Eating and Fewer Mood Disorders

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Paying attention to what you are eating is the most effective way to attain a positive relationship with food and therefore find your ideal healthy weight.” – UT Counseling

 

Around 30 million people in the United States of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder; either anorexia nervosa, bulimia, or binge eating disorder. 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 26. So, college age students are particularly vulnerable. Eating disorders are not just troubling psychological problems, they can be deadly, having the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Binge eating disorder involves eating a large amount of food within a short time-period while experiencing a sense of loss of control over eating.

 

Eating disorders can be difficult to treat because eating is necessary and cannot be simply stopped as in smoking cessation or abstaining from drugs or alcohol. One must learn to eat appropriately not stop. So, it is important to find methods that can help prevent and treat eating disorders. Contemplative practices, mindfulness, and mindful eating have shown promise for treating eating disorders.

 

Mindful eating involves paying attention to eating while it is occurring, including attention to the sight, smell, flavors, and textures of food, to the process of chewing and may help reduce intake by affecting the individual’s response to non-homeostatic cues for eating. Indeed, high levels of mindfulness are associated with lower levels of obesity and mindful eating has been shown to improve eating behaviors. Hence, mindful eating may counter binge eating. So, it is important to investigate the relationship of mindful eating to mood and binge eating.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness in Eating Is Inversely Related to Binge Eating and Mood Disturbances in University Students in Health-Related Disciplines.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7071141/ ) Giannopoulou and colleagues recruited college students and had them complete online measures of mood, mindful eating, and binge eating. They then compared students with binge eating to non-binge eaters and the data were subjected to regression analysis.

 

They found that 41% of the students met the criterion for binge eating. In comparison to non-binge eating students, the binge eaters had significantly higher levels of tension, depression, anger, fatigue, and confusion and significantly lower levels of vigor and mindful eating. Similarly, female students had significantly higher levels of tension, depression, anger, fatigue, and confusion and significantly lower levels of vigor and mindful eating. In addition, the higher the level of mindful eating the higher the mood scores and the lower the binge eating score.

 

It should be noted that these results are correlational. So, conclusions about causation cannot be made directly. But prior research has demonstrated that training in mindfulness produces reductions in binge eating and improvements in mood. Including decreases in, depression, anger, and fatigue. So, the present results probably result from causal connections.

 

The results then suggest that binge eating is associated with negative mood states. College students are particularly vulnerable to negative moods and binge eating. The results also suggest that mindful eating may be an antidote to negative moods and binge eating. This suggests that training in mindful eating might work to lessen or prevent these problems so rampant in college students.

 

So, mindful eating is related to less binge eating and fewer mood disorders.

 

Practicing mindfulness can help you recognize when you’re no longer hungry, which can improve your eating behaviors and reduce the incidence of binge eating.” – Rachel Link

 

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

 

Giannopoulou, I., Kotopoulea-Nikolaidi, M., Daskou, S., Martyn, K., & Patel, A. (2020). Mindfulness in Eating Is Inversely Related to Binge Eating and Mood Disturbances in University Students in Health-Related Disciplines. Nutrients, 12(2), 396. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12020396

 

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to investigate the relationship between mindful eating, disordered eating and mood in university students in health-related disciplines. A total of 221 university students participated in the study; 102 students studied sport and exercise science (SS), 54 students pharmacy sciences (PS), and 65 students health sciences (HS). Participants completed the Binge Eating Scale (BES), the Mindful Eating Questionnaire (MEQ), and the Profile of Mood State questionnaire (POMS). 41% of the students were classified as binge eaters and 57% were above the POMS threshold of depression. Binge eaters were found to have significantly lower MEQ score and significantly higher total mood disturbance scores (TMD) compared to non-binge eaters (p < 0.01). Students with a high depression score exhibited no differences in the MEQ score but a significantly higher BES score compared to non-depressed students (p < 0.01). Gender differences were found in the MEQ with females exhibiting significantly higher scores in the MEQ score and in all MEQ subscales compared to males, with the exception of the emotional subscale that females were noted to have a lower score compared to males (p < 0.01). The MEQ score was inversely related to the BES score (r = −0.30, p < 0.01) and TMD (r = −0.21, p < 0.05). The MEQ score was a significant negative predictor of the variance of the binge eating behavior of the students (B = −3.17, p < 0.001). In conclusion, mindfulness in eating is inversely related to the binge eating behavior and mood state of university students studying health-related subjects and is a significant negative predictor of disordered eating behavior in this high risk population.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7071141/

 

Lower Stress and Improve the Psychological Health of Healthcare Workers with Mind-Body Practices

Lower Stress and Improve the Psychological Health of Healthcare Workers with Mind-Body Practices

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mind-body programs. . . emphasize the importance of mindfulness, getting more sleep and reducing stress. Not long ago, those life strategies were viewed as irrelevant to a person’s health care. But these are all things that boost one’s mood. An added bonus? They make a huge difference in improving physical health.” – Hal Paz

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. These stressors have been vastly amplified during the Covid-19 pandemic. Improving the psychological health of health care professionals, then, has to be a priority.

 

Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep.  Hence, it is reasonable to examine the ability of mind-body practices as a means to improve the well-being of healthcare professionals.

 

In today’s Research News article “Long-term beneficial effects of an online mind-body training program on stress and psychological outcomes in female healthcare providers: A non-randomized controlled study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7593019/ ) Lee and colleagues recruited female healthcare workers and randomly assigned them to a wait-list control condition or to receive an 8-week online program of mind-body training. The participants practiced at home for 10 minutes, 5 days per week, for 8 weeks. The training included relaxation training, breathing exercises, and meditation. The participants were measured before and after training and 4 weeks later for occupational stress, stress responses, emotional intelligence, resilience, coping strategies, positive and negative emotions, and anxiety.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, the mind-body training group had significant reduction in overall stress levels, anger, and depression and a significant increase in a social support coping strategy that were maintained 4 weeks after the end of training. They also found that the mind-body group had a significant increase in emotion regulation, a problem-solving coping strategy ,and resilience and a significant decrease in negative emotions at the end of training but these improvements were no longer significant 4 weeks later.

 

This is an interesting study but conclusions must be tempered by the fact that the comparison condition was passive, leaving open the possibility for contaminants such as experimenter bias or participant expectancy, or attentional effects as alternative explanations. But the results are similar to other controlled studies that mindfulness training decreases stress, anger, negative emotions. and depression and increases emotion regulation and adaptive coping. So, it would appear that the mind-body training improves the psychological health of female healthcare workers with lasting improvements in stress levels, anger, depression and social support coping but transitory improvements in emotion regulation, resilience, negative emotions and problem-solving coping.

 

An important characteristic of the mind-body training in the present study was that it was provided online and only involved 10 minutes of daily practice. This type of program is convenient and doesn’t add a major time commitment to the healthcare workers’ already very busy schedule. So, it is easy to inexpensively and conveniently provide it to large numbers of healthcare workers without adding extra stress. Such a program, then, can improve the well-being of these stressed workers, potentially reducing burnout and improving job effectiveness. This is particularly important during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

So, lower stress and improve the psychological health of healthcare workers with min-body practices.

 

Mind-body therapies are safe, noninvasive techniques that have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety . . . Furthermore, they have demonstrated preliminary effects in improving psychological outcomes in physicians and health-care providers.” – Ting Bao

 

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

 

Lee, D., Lee, W. J., Choi, S. H., Jang, J. H., & Kang, D. H. (2020). Long-term beneficial effects of an online mind-body training program on stress and psychological outcomes in female healthcare providers: A non-randomized controlled study. Medicine, 99(32), e21027. https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000021027

 

Abstract

Mind-body training (MBT) programs are effective interventions for relieving stress and improving psychological capabilities. To expand our previous study which demonstrated the short-term effects of an 8-week online MBT program, the present study investigated whether those short-term effects persist up to a month after the end of the intervention.

Among previous participants, 56 (64%) participated in this follow-up study, 25 in the MBT group and 31 in the control group. Outcome measures included the stress response, emotional intelligence, resilience, coping strategies, positive and negative affect, and anger expression of both groups at baseline, at 8 weeks (right after the training or waiting period), and at 12 weeks (a month after the training or waiting period).

The MBT group showed a greater decrease in stress response at 8 weeks, and this reduction remained a month after the end of the intervention. The effect of MBT on resilience and effective coping strategies was also significant at 8 weeks and remained constant a month later. However, the improvement to emotional intelligence and negative affect did not persist a month after training.

These findings suggest that the beneficial short-term effects of MBT may last beyond the training period even without continuous practice, but the retention of these benefits seems to depend on the outcome variables. Through a convenient, affordable, and easily accessible online format, MBT may provide cost-effective solutions for employees at worksites.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7593019/

 

Improve Fertility with Mindfulness

 

Improve Fertility with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

those who participate in a mind-body wellness program are 32% more likely to become pregnant!” – Michelle Anne

 

Infertility is primarily a medical condition due to physiological problems. It is quite common. It is estimated that in the U.S. 6.7 million women, about 10% of the population of women are infertile. Infertility can be more than just a medical issue. It can be an emotional crisis for many couples, especially for the women. Couples attending a fertility clinic reported that infertility was the most upsetting experience of their lives. Women with infertility reported feeling as anxious or depressed as those diagnosed with cancer, hypertension, or recovering from a heart attack.

 

Mindfulness training been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs fail. This is especially true for Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) which was specifically developed to treat depression. MBCT has been shown to be effective in treating infertility. At this point it’s useful to step back and summarize what has been learned about mindfulness training and infertility.

 

In today’s Research News article “Application of Mindfulness-Based Psychological Interventions in Infertility.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7295259/), Patel and colleagues review and summarize the published scientific research of the effectiveness of mindfulness training in treating infertility. They identified 9 published research studies.

 

They report that the research found that mindfulness training decreases anxiety, depression, stress, and anger, and increases well-being and quality of life of infertile women. These enhance the self-efficacy of women coping with infertility. Mindfulness training also has been found to reduce emotional stress and stress hormones and improve sleep and immune function all of which are known to play an important role in infertility. These all lead to increased conception rates.

 

The psychological and emotional issues that result from infertility produce a negative spiral, where infertility increases emotional dysfunction, which in turn lessens the likelihood of conception, which increases emotionality and so on. Mindfulness training appears to interrupt this cycle by improving the psychological and physical well-being of infertile women. This allows the women to relax and better cope with the issues surrounding infertility. This in turn improves their likelihood of conception. Hence, mindfulness training should be recommended for infertile women.

 

So, improve fertility with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness becomes the perfect antidote for the paradoxical land mines infertility presents. Mindfulness starts from the perspective that you are whole and complete already, regardless of flaws or imperfections. It is based on the concept of original goodness: your essential nature is good and pure. Proceeding from this vantage point gives you freedom from the bondage of inadequacy and insecurity.” – Janetti Marotta

 

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

 

Patel, A., Sharma, P., & Kumar, P. (2020). Application of Mindfulness-Based Psychological Interventions in Infertility. Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences, 13(1), 3–21. https://doi.org/10.4103/jhrs.JHRS_51_19

 

Abstract

Living mindfully helps one gain a deeper understanding into realities of life. It enables people to witness suffering, desire, attachments, and impermanence without any fear, anxiety, anger, or despair. This is considered the hallmark of true psychological insight. As a skill, mindfulness can be inculcated by anyone. Mindfulness helps in attending, getting aware and understanding experiences in a compassion and open-minded way. Research suggests that applying mindfulness in daily life has been known to tame our emotional mind and enabled people to perceive things “as they are” without ascribing expectations, judgments, cynicism, or apprehensions to them. This review unravels the therapeutic power of mindfulness meditation in the context of infertility distress. It serves to integrate the evidence on the effectiveness of mindfulness-based psychological interventions to improve the emotional well-being and biological outcomes in Infertility.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7295259/

 

Reduce Aggressiveness in Militant Extremists with Yoga

Reduce Aggressiveness in Militant Extremists with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

yoga helps to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression in prisoners, and crucially, decreases impulsivity—a known factor in much prison violence.” – Georgia Pike

 

As Mahatma Gandhi has recognized “Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.” It attempts to rectify the problem quickly, but the roots of the problem are deep and violence does not address the roots. It only deals with the surface manifestations. This is on display with militant extremists where violence has begot violence for centuries. Rather than solving the root problems, it has instead led to more and more hatred, violence, and deeper and deeper problems.

 

Militant extremism has been increasing recently. Obviously, there is a need in modern society to find methods to reduce violent and aggressive tendencies in extremists who have been captured. Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce aggression and hostility. Yoga is a mindfulness practice whose effects on violent and aggressive behaviors have not been well studied. So, it makes sense to study the effectiveness of yoga practice in reducing aggressive tendencies in captured extremists.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effectiveness of a Comprehensive Yoga Program on Convicted Extremist Offenders.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6937884/), Kanchibhotla and colleagues examine the ability of yoga practice to reduce aggressiveness in militant extremists. They recruited ULFA militant extremists in Northern India who had surrendered their arms. They completed a 40-day intensive yoga workshop including postures, breathing exercises, meditation, singing, and discussions. They were measured before and after training for aggression, satisfaction with life, and quality of life including 4 dimensions, physical health, social relationships, environment, and psychological health.

 

They found that after treatment there were significant decreases in aggression including physical aggression, verbal aggression, anger, and hostile behavior. They also found significant improvements in satisfaction with life, and quality of life including physical health, environment, and psychological health.

 

It should be noted that there wasn’t a comparison, control, group. So, the study is open to many potential confounding influences and the results must be interpreted with great caution. But the study group is so unique that the findings should be considered. Yoga practice has been shown in a number of well controlled studies to reduce aggression, and improve quality of life, and satisfaction with life and reduce aggression and violence in prisoners. So, it is reasonable to suggest that the intensive yoga workshop was effective in improving the psychological health of the militant extremists.

 

This suggests that yoga practice and perhaps other mind-body practices may be effective in reducing hostility and aggression in even the most extreme offenders. This also suggests that yoga practice may be useful in treating violent and aggressive individuals generally. This may intervene and disrupt the circle of escalating violence better addressing the roots of the problem.

 

So, reduce aggressiveness in militant extremists with yoga.

 

“subjects in the yoga group showed a significant improvement from the baseline performance in aggression and results . . . are consistent with earlier researches on yoga to reduce aggression.” – Umesh Dwivedi

 

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

 

Kanchibhotla, D., Kulkarni, S., & Singh, S. (2020). Effectiveness of a Comprehensive Yoga Program on Convicted Extremist Offenders. International journal of yoga, 13(1), 50–54. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_79_18

 

Abstract

Objective:

The present study aimed to explore the effect of yoga techniques on well-being and behavior among those who have propagated and participated in extreme violence and aggression. The sample comprised 219 United Liberation Front of Assam militants selected immediately after surrender of arms in the year 2012 from all over northeast region of India.

Methodology:

The study design was a single group with pre- and posttest assessment. All participants attended a 40-day intensive Yoga workshop (Sudarshan Kriya Yoga, Pranayama, Physical postures or Hatha Yoga, Meditation) conducted at Art of Living International Centre, Bengaluru. The impact of spiritual practices was observed on peace, aggression, life satisfaction, and quality of life in individuals using the aggression Buss Perry questionnaire, WHOQOL-BREF, and Satisfaction with Life Scale. The questionnaires were administered at the beginning and at the end of the 40-day workshop.

Results:

Significant results using paired t-test clearly demonstrate that by following yoga techniques (Sudarshan Kriya, Yoga, and Meditation), a reduction in aggression, quality of life, and life satisfaction can be obtained. These practices can be useful for people who want to rehabilitate themselves after incarceration or experience of militancy. The purpose of these measures is to reduce the risk of future criminality by those already convicted of violent extremist offenses, thereby protecting public safety while also benefiting individuals and communities.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6937884/

 

Improve the Behavior of Prisoners and Prison Staff with Mindfulness

Improve the Behavior of Prisoners and Prison Staff with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“I have seen how men in maximum security prison were able to support not only their own resilience, but also that of their guards, nurses, and other prison staff, through the practice of meditation, mindfulness, and deliberate kindness.” – Doug Carnine

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

Contemplative practices are well suited to the prison environment. Mindfulness training teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Prison: Experiences of Inmates, Instructors, and Prison Staff.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6745607/), Bouw and colleagues examine the effectiveness of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program for prisoners. They recruited male prisoners, staff, and instructors from prisons in the Netherlands where the prisoners had attended an MBSR program. The MBSR program consisted of 8 weekly 2-hour group sessions involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The prisoners were also encouraged to perform practice on their own for 45 minutes for 6 days per week.

 

The prisoners were administered a semi-structured interview to obtain the prisoners’ views of level of satisfaction and challenges regarding the program as well as potential effects on stress responsivity, coping style, impulse control, aggression, and self-esteem. The staff members and instructors were also interviewed about the effects or changes they observed in the inmates who underwent the intervention. The prisoners were highly appreciative of the program with 82% attending all MBSR sessions and 64% completing all homework assignments.

 

The prisoners reported that after the program they had significant decreases in both the frequency and intensity of experiencing anger, that they were better able to handle the anger when it did arise, and were more likely to seek solutions to the situation that evoked the anger. They also reported a significant reduction in their reactions to stress, that they were more likely to be relaxed, and less likely to be sad or silent after stress. The prisoners also reported that they were more likely to employ cognitive-oriented coping styles and less emotion-oriented coping styles after the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. Finally, the prisoners reported a significant increase in self-esteem. The prison staff, and instructors reported that the prisoners had overall improvements in their behavior after the MBSR program including reduced stress responses, anger, aggressive behavior, and hostility and increased self-esteem, emotional stability, dealing with difficult emotions, problem solving skills, and regulation of aggression.

 

It has to be recognized that there was no control, comparison, condition. As such the results are open to confounding factors such as demand characteristics, placebo effects, time-based changes, etc. Nevertheless, the results are very encouraging. Even if they are due to confounding factors rather than the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, there was a significant improvement in the prisoners. From a practical standpoint that was the intent of the program in the first place.

 

So, improve the behavior of prisoners and prison staff with mindfulness.

 

“By working with both prisoners and correctional facilities professionals, mindfulness programs systematically transform the impact of our criminal justice system. Through cultivating greater awareness and compassion, mindfulness “encourages a shift away from fear-based and often anti-social or criminal strategies for meeting needs” – Prison Mindfulness Institute

 

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

 

Bouw, N., Huijbregts, S., Scholte, E., & Swaab, H. (2019). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Prison: Experiences of Inmates, Instructors, and Prison Staff. International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology, 63(15-16), 2550–2571. doi:10.1177/0306624X19856232

 

Abstract

Mindfulness intervention aims to reduce stress and to improve physical and mental health. The present study investigated feasibility and effectiveness of mindfulness intervention in a prison context, in both a qualitative and quantitative fashion. Specifically, the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) intervention was investigated, in a retrospective pre–post design, in five Dutch prisons. Twenty-two inmates (out of 25 approached, mean age: 40.1 years (SD = 11.1), convicted of murder, manslaughter, sexual offenses, drug offenses, robbery with violence, and/or illegal restraint/kidnap, and sentenced to incarceration between 15 and 209 months (M = 5.5 years; SD = 3.8) took part in a semistructured interview after completion of the MBSR intervention. The interviews addressed level of satisfaction and challenges regarding the MBSR intervention as well as potential effects on stress responsivity, coping style, impulse control, aggression, and self-esteem. Ten staff members and four MBSR instructors were interviewed about their own practical issues experienced while providing or facilitating the MBSR intervention, and about the effects or changes they observed in the inmates who underwent the intervention. Both participants and instructors/prison staff reported improvements in all of the addressed domains and expressed satisfaction with the intervention. Challenges were mainly identified in practical issues regarding the organization of the intervention sessions. Future studies should investigate mindfulness in longitudinal randomly controlled designs, should strive for a multi-method approach, and distinguish inmates according to personality characteristics.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6745607/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Different Brain Responses to Angry Faces

Mindfulness is Associated with Different Brain Responses to Angry Faces

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Being mindful of anger means not suppressing, denying or avoiding it and also not acting out in harmful ways. Instead, connect with the direct experience of the anger, and then decide what action you want to take.” — Jessica Morey

 

Anger not only produces changes in our behavior and mood, it also produces changes in our physiology, including the brain. It activates the “fight or flight” system in the body, sympathetic nervous, and releases activating hormones. The net result is an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, sweating, especially the palms, feeling hot in the neck/face, shaking or trembling, and decreased heart rate variability. In addition, anger affects and is affected by the brain. These physical effects can be used to objectively measure anger responses. They are also stressful and if prolonged can be damaging to the individual’s health.

 

If we can control our anger, we will generally be a happier person. But, at times, it is very difficult to do so. Mindfulness and meditation can help. It has been shown to improve our ability to regulate our emotions including anger.  Mindfulness appears to improve our ability not to suppress our emotions, but to fully experience them and yet be better able to respond to them constructively and adaptively.

 

In today’s Research News article “Relationship of mindful awareness to neural processing of angry faces and impact of mindfulness training: A pilot investigation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5480240/ ), Lee and colleagues examine the relationship of mindfulness to the brain’s activity in response to angry stimuli.

 

They recruited right handed healthy adults. Ten of the 18 participants received an 8-week, once a week for 2.5 hours, program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). ”It includes training in formal meditation practices like body scan, sitting meditation, walking meditation, and mindful movement, as well as informal practices to integrate mindfulness into everyday life.” Participants were asked to practice at home for 45 minutes a day for 6 days per week. The participants were measured before and after training for mindfulness and anger. They were also tested for their brain’s response to pictures of angry or neutral faces while simply indicating whether the face was male or female. While viewing the faces their brains were scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

 

They found at baseline, before training, that in response to angry faces the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the activation of the parietal lobe while the higher the level of anger the greater the activation of the middle frontal gyrus and bilateral angular gyrus. Hence, the participants’ brains responded to the angry faces differently than to the neutral faces and the level of response depended upon their baseline levels of mindfulness and anger. After MBSR training there was a significant increase in mindfulness but no significant change in the fMRI responses to the faces.

 

It is interesting that MBSR training did not change the neural responses to angry faces as it has been shown previously that MBSR training decreases anger in the participants and it would be assumed that changes in anger would be associated with changes in the brains activity in response to stimuli associated with anger. It may well be that viewing angry faces is totally different from actually being personally angry. Regardless, it is clear that mindfulness is associated with different brain responses to angry faces.

 

“Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it.” — Charles Swindoll

 

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

 

Lee, A., Gansler, D. A., Zhang, N., Jerram, M. W., King, J. A., & Fulwiler, C. (2017). Relationship of mindful awareness to neural processing of angry faces and impact of mindfulness training: A pilot investigation. Psychiatry research. Neuroimaging, 264, 22-28.

 

Abstract

Mindfulness is paying attention, non-judgmentally, to experience in the moment. Mindfulness training reduces depression and anxiety and influences neural processes in midline self-referential and lateralized somatosensory and executive networks. Although mindfulness benefits emotion regulation, less is known about its relationship to anger and the corresponding neural correlates. This study examined the relationship of mindful awareness and brain hemodynamics of angry face processing, and the impact of mindfulness training. Eighteen healthy volunteers completed an angry face processing fMRI paradigm and measurement of mindfulness and anger traits. Ten of these participants were recruited from a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class and also completed imaging and other assessments post-training. Self-reported mindful awareness increased after MBSR, but trait anger did not change. Baseline mindful awareness was negatively related to left inferior parietal lobule activation to angry faces; trait anger was positively related to right middle frontal gyrus and bilateral angular gyrus. No significant pre-post changes in angry face processing were found, but changes in trait mindful awareness and anger were associated with sub-threshold differences in paralimbic activation. These preliminary and hypothesis-generating findings, suggest the analysis of possible impact of mindfulness training on anger may begin with individual differences in angry face processing.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5480240/

 

Improve Tolerance of Distress and Psychological State with Mindfulness

Improve Tolerance of Distress and Psychological State with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Distress Tolerance skills are used to help us cope and survive during a crisis, and helps us tolerate short term or long term pain (physical or emotional). Tolerating distress includes a mindfulness of breath and mindful awareness of situations and ourselves.” – DBT Self Help

 

Psychological distress is related to an increase in physiological stress responses. That is, when the individual is anxious, ruminating, or having negative emotions, the physiology including the hormonal system reacts. The increased activity can be measured in heightened stress hormones in the blood and increased heart rate, blood pressure etc. These physiological stress responses on the short-term are adaptive and help to fight off infection, toxins, injury, etc. Unfortunately, psychological distress is often persistent and chronic and resulting in chronic stress which in turn can produce disease.

 

Many of the symptoms of psychological distress have been shown to be related to a lack of mindfulness. Anxiety is often rooted in a persistent dread of future negative events while rumination is rooted in the past, with persistent replaying of negative past events. Since mindfulness is firmly rooted in the present it is antagonistic toward anything rooted in the past or future. Hence, high levels of mindfulness cannot coexist with anxiety and rumination. In addition, high mindfulness has been shown to be related to high levels of emotion regulation and positive emotions. So, mindfulness would appear to be an antidote to psychological distress.

 

In today’s Research News article “Dimensions of distress tolerance and the moderating effects on mindfulness-based stress reduction.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6130202/ ), Gawrysiak and colleagues recruited participants in an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The program was specifically developed to improve coping with stress and consisted of weekly 2.5-hour group training sessions with home practice and included meditation, body scan, yoga practices, and discussion. They were measured before and after training for distress tolerance, perceived stress, and positive and negative emotions.

 

They found that following the MBSR program the participants demonstrated significant increases in distress tolerance and vigor and decreases in perceived stress, anger, confusion, depression, fatigue, and tension. In addition, they found that participants who were low in distress tolerance had the greatest decreases in perceived stress after the program while those high in distress tolerance had the least change.

 

Hence, they found that the MBSR program improved the psychological state in the participants. This is in line with previous research that demonstrated that mindfulness training improves psychological and physiological responses to stress and improves emotions. What this study contributes is the understanding that MBSR  improves that participants  ability to cope with psychological distress. Importantly, they also found that the participants who benefited the most were the ones who had the least ability to cope with distress to begin with. This suggests that one of the reasons that MBSR training is beneficial is that it improves the individuals ability to deal effectively with tough emotions and situations which, in turn, improves the individuals ability to deal effectively with stress. This, then, improves their emotional state.

 

So, improve tolerance of distress and psychological state with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

 

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

 

Gawrysiak, M. J., Leong, S. H., Grassetti, S. N., Wai, M., Shorey, R. C., & Baime, M. J. (2016). Dimensions of distress tolerance and the moderating effects on mindfulness-based stress reduction. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 29(5), 552–560. http://doi.org/10.1080/10615806.2015.1085513

 

Abstract

Background and Objectives:

This study examined the relationship between distress tolerance and psychosocial changes among individuals participating in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). The objective of the analysis was to discern whether individuals with lower distress tolerance measured before MBSR showed larger reductions in perceived stress following MBSR.

Design and Methods:

Data were collected from a sample of convenience (n = 372) using a quasi-experimental design. Participants completed self-report measures immediately prior to course enrollment and following course completion.

Results:

Perceived stress, distress tolerance, and mood states showed favorable changes from pre- to post-MBSR in the current study. Baseline distress tolerance significantly moderated reductions on perceived stress, supporting the primary hypothesis that individuals with lower baseline distress tolerance evidenced a greater decline in perceived stress following MBSR. For a one-unit increase on the self-reported baseline Distress Tolerance Scale, reported perceived stress scores decreased by 2.5 units (p < .0001).

Conclusions:

The finding that individuals with lower baseline distress tolerance evidenced a greater decline in perceived stress may offer hints about who is most likely to benefit from MBSR and other mindfulness-based treatments. Identifying moderators of treatment outcomes may yield important benefits in matching individuals to treatments that are most likely to work for them.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6130202/