Reduce the Impact of Problematic Social Media Use on Depression During the Covid-19 Pandemic with Mindfulness

Reduce the Impact of Problematic Social Media Use on Depression During the Covid-19 Pandemic with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Social media addiction is becoming an increasing problem. . . Mindfulness is a training that helps us become more present, self aware and better able to respond rather than react on autopilot in our everyday lives. It’s been shown to help with impulse control . . .and is a powerful tool for kicking addictions ranging from drugs, to social media.” – Elise Bialylew

 

Over the last few decades, the internet has gone from a rare curiosity to the dominant mode of electronic communications. In fact, it has become a dominant force in daily life, occupying large amounts of time and attention. As useful as the internet may be, it can also produce negative consequences. “Problematic Internet Use” is now considered a behavioral addiction, with almost half of participants in one study considered “Internet addicts”, developing greater levels of “tolerance” and experiencing “withdrawal” and distress when deprived. This phenomenon is so new that there is little understanding of its nature, causes, and consequences and how to treat it.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be helpful with each of the components of addictions, decreasing cravingsimpulsiveness, and psychological and physiological responses to stress, and increasing emotion regulation.  It is no wonder then that mindfulness training has been found to be effective for the treatment of a variety of addictions. It also has been found to be helpful in overcoming internet and smartphone addictions.

 

Problematic use of the internet and social media has been amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic. It has produced social isolation and interacting over the internet is one of the few means available to communicate. It is not known the extent to which mindfulness may help to prevent social media use from becoming problematic promoting fear and depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “Relationship Between Problematic Social Media Usage and Employee Depression: A Moderated Mediation Model of Mindfulness and Fear of COVID-19.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.557987/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1514613_69_Psycho_20201224_arts_A ) Majeed and colleagues recruited adult Pakistanis who were employed during the Covid-19 lockdown. The participants completed online questionnaires measuring problematic social media usage, fear of Covid-19, depression, and mindfulness.

 

They found that the greater the problematic social media usage, the greater the fear of Covid-19, and depression and the lower the level of mindfulness. In addition, the greater the fear of Covid-19, the greater the level of depression and the lower the level of mindfulness. Finally, the greater the level of mindfulness the lower the level of depression. They performed a mediation analysis and found that the fear of Covid-19 mediated the positive relationship of problematic social media usage with depression such that problematic social media usage was associated with greater fear of Covid-19, which was, in turn, associated with greater depression. They further found that this mediation was moderated by mindfulness such that the higher the levels of mindfulness the weaker the mediation of fear of Covid-19.

 

These are correlative findings and as such must be interpreted with caution. But they show that higher problematic social media usage is associated with depression via fear of Covid-19 and this mediation is dampened by mindfulness. “Problematic social media usage is defined as; an excessive use of social media regularly, to the extent that it seems difficult to stay away from it.” It can be speculated that overuse of social media during the pandemic reinforces the fear of the disease and this fear in a lockdown context promotes depression.

 

Mindfulness appears to be somewhat of an antidote reducing the impact of the social media use on fear and depression. To some extent this is not surprising as mindfulness has been repeatedly shown to decrease depression and fear. Mindfulness also has been found to be helpful in overcoming internet and smartphone addictions. What is new here is the effect of mindfulness on the lowering the impact of social media use on fear and depression during a pandemic.

 

So, reduce the impact of problematic social media use on depression during the Covid-19 pandemic with mindfulness.

 

compulsive mobile SNS use induces stress and that mindfulness has also lowering effects on stress derived from such compulsive behavior,” – Vanessa Apaolaza

 

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

 

Majeed M, Irshad M, Fatima T, Khan J and Hassan MM (2020) Relationship Between Problematic Social Media Usage and Employee Depression: A Moderated Mediation Model of Mindfulness and Fear of COVID-19. Front. Psychol. 11:557987. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.557987

 

Social media plays a significant role in modern life, but excessive use of it during the COVID-19 pandemic has become a source of concern. Supported by the conservation of resources theory, the current study extends the literature on problematic social media usage during COVID-19 by investigating its association with emotional and mental health outcomes. In a moderated mediation model, this study proposes that problematic social media use by workers during COVID-19 is linked to fear of COVID-19, which is further associated with depression. The current study tested trait mindfulness as an important personal resource that may be associated with reduced fear of COVID-19 despite problematic social media use. The study collected temporally separate data to avoid common method bias. Pakistani employees (N = 267) working in different organizations completed a series of survey questionnaires. The results supported the moderated mediation model, showing that problematic social media use during the current pandemic is linked to fear of COVID-19 and depression among employees. Furthermore, trait mindfulness was found to be an important buffer, reducing the negative indirect association between problematic social media use and depression through fear of COVID-19. These results offer implications for practitioners. The limitations of this study and future research directions are also discussed.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.557987/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1514613_69_Psycho_20201224_arts_A

 

Pandemic on the Eightfold Path

Pandemic on the Eightfold Path

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“If we strive to transform our collective isolation into an opportunity for communal solitude, we might discover that it is, as it has always been, the seedbed for growth in holiness and wholeness, for communion and connection, for resistance and renewal. – Kerry Maloney

 

The Covid-19 Pandemic has proved challenging in many ways. Not only is it a threat to physical health, it is also a threat to mental health. It has produced isolation from normal activities and social connections. This includes spiritual activities with many church services curtailed and even the cessation of spiritual retreats. But it also produces many opportunities to practice engaging with the Buddha’s Eightfold Path, the Buddha’s method for the cessation of suffering. The path includes 8 components; Right View, Right Intentions, Right Actions, Right Speech, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. During the pandemic there are numerous opportunities to practice the eightfold path. This is an opportunity to not only help cope with the pandemic but also can contribute to spiritual development.

 

The first component of the path is “Right View.” There are a number of these Right Views.”  Including the recognition that all things are impermanent, they come and they go and never stay the same. This is true of the pandemic we see infection rates spiking and then falling and eventually they will go away completely. Even with infection the vast majority of victims fall ill but then slowly recover. The disease is impermanent. But part of “Right View” is also the recognition that health too is impermanent. Illness is as much a part of life as is health. The monk, Ajahn Brahm, tells his doctor when he’s ill that he “has something right” with him. The state of our physical being is constantly changing with all states of health and illness impermanent.

 

Not just our physical being is impermanent but so is everything else. All of the psychological, social, and economic consequences of the pandemic also come and go. Eventually, the fear and depression produced by the pandemic will lift, social life will be reestablished, and the economy will recover. Recognition of this impermanence is important as it emphasize that all this unpleasantness will pass and life will eventually return to normal. It doesn’t relieve the pain, but it provides an optimism that it will eventually cease. But there is no such thing as normal. Our emotions are constantly changing, people come and go from our circle, and wealth comes and goes. It is all impermanent.

 

Another important component of “Right View” is the recognition that everything is interconnected. This is readily apparent during the pandemic. The disease has affected everything, from health, to the economy, to education, to supply chains, to crime, to mental health, to food availability, to travel, to jobs, to the environment, and on and on. There is hardly and aspect of life that has not been changed reflecting how they are all interconnected in the first place. A tiny microscopic virus changes the whole universe reflecting the “Right View” of the interconnectedness of all things

 

Another important component of “Right View” is the recognition of the presence of suffering and unsatisfactoriness in everything. The pandemic directly produces suffering but our response to it can increase or decrease that suffering. One outgrowth of pandemic with which I struggle is boredom. By taking away so many activities, the pandemic has left a vacuum. This creates a problem with boredom. Jon Kabat-Zinn has said that “when you pay attention to boredom it gets unbelievably interesting.” This seemingly paradoxical statement is an amazing teaching. Paying attention to boredom reveals that it is simply wanting things to be different than they are. Such “wantings” are the source of much of unsatisfactoriness and suffering.

 

The antidote is to pay close attention to what is actually present in the now including the beauty and wonder of simply being alive and healthy and the awareness of all the nuances of our sensations and feelings. But it is not just what is there it is also what is not. One wonderful practice taught by the great sage Thich Nhat Hahn is to pay attention to the “non-toothache.” Oral health is taken for granted except when there is a toothache. Then, our entire being becomes focused on the discomfort and the desire for it to cease. Yet when it isn’t there, it isn’t noticed. When we pay attention, not only to what is there but also to what is absent, we can see that there is much more right about the present moment than there is wrong. This evokes a recognition that the present moment is actually wonderful and that paying attention to all that is right in the present relieves the boredom, reinforcing the “Right View” of the presence of suffering and unsatisfactoriness in everything.

 

The pandemic provides a wonderful opportunity to observe unsatisfactoriness and suffering and its roots. Looking closely can reveal that it is not the pandemic alone that produces the unsatisfactoriness and suffering, but also our response to the pandemic. It reveals that we make ourselves miserable by our reactions to it. Wanting it to go away doesn’t change the situation in any way except to produce unsatisfactoriness and suffering. It is sometimes referred to as the “second arrow.” The first arrow is the pandemic and the suffering that it directly produces. This is out of our control. The “second arrow”, however, is our response to it, which has the effect of amplifying the suffering. Trying to fight something over which we have no control produces greater suffering. If it is accepted as pain that is out of our control, we cease to fight against it, and accept it for what it is; a lousy situation produced by the world in which we live. This stops the amplification of the suffering produced by the “second arrow.” Recognizing this can lead to greater understanding of how we make ourselves unhappy, and how by simply accepting things as they are can decrease the suffering. Practicing this builds the “Right View.”

 

The pandemic provides us with an opportunity to practice “Right Intentions.”  These are the intentions to reduce or prevent harm and promote greater happiness, wisdom, and well-being for all beings. During the pandemic “Right Intentions” involves doing things to reduce the horror and to increase peace, well-being, and happiness. If the pandemic is responded to with anger, impatience, selfishness, and resentment it is likely infect others and produce harm. If, on the other hand, we set the “Right Intentions” to respond to the pandemic with tolerance, generosity, equanimity, and understanding it can evoke the same in others. This way injury or harm can be minimized. It would seem obvious, but taking the time beforehand to establish “Right Intentions” may lower the suffering of ourselves and others.

 

Responding to the pandemic with “Right Intentions” is a practice that requires a moral compass. This tends to lead in the right direction even though at times there are stumbles.  It is often difficult or impossible to predict all of the consequences of actions. It is also very difficult avoid all harm. But forming “Right Intentions” and aspiring to create good and happiness will produce more harmony, good will, and happiness than their opposites and produce progress along the eightfold path.

 

During the pandemic we can practice “Right Actions.” Some simple “Right Actions” are to wear a mask, social distance, get vaccinated, and encourage others to do the same. Wearing a mask and social distancing not only helps to protect ourselves but is even more protective to others making it much less likely that the virus will spread. Getting vaccinated as soon as it’s available and encouraging others to get vaccinated not only protects ourselves and the people around us, but also contributes to ending the pandemic for the benefit of all humanity.

 

Verbal and non-verbal interactions are important during the pandemic. “Right Communications” involves communicating in such a way as to promote wisdom, understanding and well-being. They are non-violent and non-judgmental communications. To engage in “Right Communications” the communication must be evaluated beforehand to ascertain whether it true, necessary, and kind.  Only if all of these conditions are met should the communication occur.

 

In order to engage in “Right Communications” there needs to be deep listening. It is impossible to respond appropriately to another if you haven’t listened carefully to exactly what the other said or looked carefully at their expressions or body language. We may not agree with the actions of others. But “Right Communications” demands that have listened deeply. Some people may refuse to wear a mask or call the pandemic a hoax. Responding nonjudgmentally with kindness and compassion after deep listening can go a long way toward having a productive discussion about mask wearing and the reality of the disease. Responding otherwise will simply create more harm than good. It is important that it is realized that we may not be able to change the minds or actions of others but at least with “Right Communications” we can promote understanding.

 

There are many ways that people can make a living during the pandemic that is directed to creating good, helping people, keeping peace, and moving society forward in a positive direction. These occupations are considered “Right Livelihood.” There are rather obvious examples during the pandemic including health care workers, scientists developing vaccines, first responders, and essential workers. But many are hard to evaluate whether they are “Right Livelihood.” In this case there is a need to reflect deeply on what are the effects of the occupation to ascertain whether it promotes good and doesn’t create harm. It is not ours to judge the “rightness” of the livelihood of others. This is a personal matter where intention matters. The process itself of evaluating “Right Livelihood” may heighten awareness of the consequences of participating in careers. This can produce a tailoring or adjustment to the occupation to maximize the good and minimize he harm created.

 

During the pandemic it is helpful to exercise “Right Effort” which involves acting according to the “Middle Way.” That is, not trying too hard but also not being lackadaisical.  “Right Effort” is a relaxed effort. The “Middle Way” is where effort should be targeted. Reacting to the threat of virus by becoming a hermit and isolating oneself is not “Right Effort.” Similarly, not being vigilant and going to bars, restaurants, parties, and large indoor gatherings is also not “Right Effort.” Taking the middle way of wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding large indoor gatherings, and getting vaccinated when available would be best for well-being and would be a right level of effort.

 

All of these components of the eightfold path require “Right Mindfulness”. Unfortunately, mindlessness is generally the norm. But paying attention to what is being experienced in the present moment can turn simple everyday activities into a meditative practice. It creates a richly textured experience of physical and mental activities. It heightens the experience and makes it much more enjoyable. Just the simple act of wearing a mask can be practiced mindfully. Focusing on the feelings on the face from the simple act of breathing through the mask, highlighting the warmth of the breath can make wearing the mask more enjoyable. Paying close attention to how others are moving to maintain social distance can produce an appreciation of the social dance we perform with others. This can improve our lives even during the pandemic.

 

“Right Concentration” is the practice of focusing the mind solely on one object or a specific unchanging set of objects. Mindfulness is paying attention to whatever arises, but concentration is paying attention to one thing to the exclusion of everything else. This is usually developed during contemplative practice such as meditation. But the pandemic has given us extra unused time that can be allocated to meditation or other mindfulness practices.  One of the benefits of the pandemic is that it provides us the opportunity to deepen our practice and “Right Concentration”.

 

Experiencing the pandemic on the eightfold path is a practice. Over time I have gotten better and better at it, but nowhere near perfect. Frequently the discursive mind takes over or my emotions get the better of me. But, by continuing the practice I’ve slowly progressed. I’ve become a better at seeing what needs to be accomplished. I am learning to be relaxed with a smile on my face even when wearing a mask and social distancing. I’ve learned to accept the way things are and understand their impermanence. It takes time and practice but leads to great benefits.

 

Can we attain enlightenment during the pandemic? Probably not! But we can practice the eightfold path and the Buddha taught that this practice leads toward it. Quiet secluded practice is wonderful and perhaps mandatory for progress in spiritual development. But for most people it this is only available during a very limited window of time. The strength of practicing the components of the eightfold path in the real world of our everyday life, even during the pandemic, is that it can greatly enhance its impact. Keep in mind the teaching that actions that lead to greater harmony, understanding, and happiness should be practiced, while those that lead to unsatisfactoriness and unhappiness should be let go.  Without doubt, by practicing the eightfold path during the pandemic can lead toward deeper spirituality.

 

“Mindfulness cultivates agility and flexibility in attention, allowing us to more easily tune in to pleasant experiences that are always present even during a pandemic: spring blossoms, blue skies, laughter and love.” – Trinh Mai

 

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

Mindfulness Improves Mental Health in Spite of the Covid-19 Pandemic

Mindfulness Improves Mental Health in Spite of the Covid-19 Pandemic

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Practicing mindfulness is an easy, free and natural way to boost your anxiety coping skills. Not only that, but it also helps our ability to manage emotions, and with some aspects of our physical health. If the coronavirus lockdowns has left you with some extra time, make this crisis into an opportunity for you to start (or strengthen) a healthy habit – mindfulness practice.” – Paul Green

 

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. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the mental and physical health of the population. It has created intense stress both for frontline workers but also for people simply isolating at home. Mindfulness is known to decrease the psychological and physical responses to stress. So, mindfulness training may be helpful in coping with the mental and physical challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

In today’s Research News article “Positive Impact of Mindfulness Meditation on Mental Health of Female Teachers during the COVID-19 Outbreak in Italy.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7559290/ ) Matiz and colleagues recruited female school teachers in Italy and provided them with a mindfulness training program that was scheduled for 8 weekly 2-hour meetings with 30 minutes of daily home practice. But, the lockdown in Italy from Covid-19 occurred a few weeks into the program. So, the last few weeks of mindfulness training was provided online. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness, empathy, personality, interoceptive awareness, psychological well-being, anxiety, depression, teacher burnout, and evaluation of the mindfulness training course. They separated the teachers into high and low resilience groups based upon their personality resilience score.

 

They found that from baseline to follow-up both groups increased in mindfulness and the personality factors of cooperativeness and self-transcendence, but the high resilience group had significantly greater increases. Both groups increased in psychological well-being but the low resilience group had a significantly greater increase in the positive relations with others subscale. Both groups decreased in anxiety and depression but the low resilience group had significantly greater decreases. Both groups had significant improvements in empathy, interoceptive awareness, and teacher burnout.

 

This is an interesting natural experiment with the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown intervening in the middle of an otherwise simple study of mindfulness training effects on school teachers’ mental health. Obviously, there is no control condition. So, the before and after training results are confounded by the lockdown. As a result, no clear conclusions can be reached. But, the Covid-19 lockdown had to have been very upsetting to the teachers. So, a decrease in their mental well-being would be expected. In prior studies it has been well established that mindfulness training lowers anxiety depression, and burnout and increases well-being, interoceptive awareness and empathy. Indeed, in the present study after the mindfulness course the teachers’ mental well-being was improved. So, mindfulness training appears to improve the mental health of the teachers in spite of the inferred negative effect of the pandemic lockdown. In addition, these effects appear to be modulated by the teachers’ levels of resilience.

 

So, mindfulness improves mental health in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Fear leaves people feeling helpless and exhausted, seeing that “we’re in it together” helps ease the emotional burden we feel and encourages more agency—the sense that we can do something constructive to fight the pandemic.” – Jill Suttie

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Matiz, A., Fabbro, F., Paschetto, A., Cantone, D., Paolone, A. R., & Crescentini, C. (2020). Positive Impact of Mindfulness Meditation on Mental Health of Female Teachers during the COVID-19 Outbreak in Italy. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(18), 6450. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186450

 

Abstract

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent public health measures were shown to impact negatively on people’s mental health. In particular, women were reported to be at higher risk than men of developing symptoms of stress/anxiety/depression, and resilience was considered a key factor for positive mental health outcomes. In the present study, a sample of Italian female teachers (n = 66, age: 51.5 ± 7.9 years) was assessed with self-report instruments one month before and one month after the start of the Covid-19 lockdown: mindfulness skills, empathy, personality profiles, interoceptive awareness, psychological well-being, emotional distress and burnout levels were measured. Meanwhile, they received an 8-week Mindfulness-Oriented Meditation (MOM) course, through two group meetings and six individual video-lessons. Based on baseline personality profiles, analyses of variance were performed in a low-resilience (LR, n = 32) and a high-resilience (HR, n = 26) group. The LR and HR groups differed at baseline in most of the self-report measures. Pre–post MOM significant improvements were found in both groups in anxiety, depression, affective empathy, emotional exhaustion, psychological well-being, interoceptive awareness, character traits and mindfulness levels. Improvements in depression and psychological well-being were higher in the LR vs. HR group. We conclude that mindfulness-based training can effectively mitigate the psychological negative consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak, helping in particular to restore well-being in the most vulnerable individuals.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7559290/

 

Post-Traumatic Growth and Religiosity Increase During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Post-Traumatic Growth and Religiosity Increase During the COVID-19 Pandemic

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Our stress lowers when we give our days ahead to a spiritual presence that will be with us ― one that never leaves. Leaning into one’s faith allows room for building a stronger sense of peace . . . and discover a spiritual awakening and divine love that will overpower any real or imagined quarantine we will experience.” – Shar Burgess

 

Modern living is stressful under the best of conditions. But with the COVID-19 pandemic the levels of stress have been markedly increased. These conditions markedly increase anxiety. This is true for everyone but especially for people with pre-existing conditions that makes them particularly vulnerable. The COVID-19 pandemic has also produced considerable economic stress, with loss of employment and steady income. For the poor this extends to high levels of food insecurity. This not only produces anxiety about the present but also for the future. It is important for people to engage in practices that can help them control their responses to the stress and their levels of anxiety. Spirituality, a sense of inner peace and harmony, and religiosity are known to help with a wide range of physical and psychological problems. So, it would make sense to investigate the relationship of spirituality and religiosity with the ability to cope with COVID-19.

 

In today’s Research News article “Finding Meaning in Hell. The Role of Meaning, Religiosity and Spirituality in Posttraumatic Growth During the Coronavirus Crisis in Spain.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.567836/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1481182_69_Psycho_20201112_arts_A ) Prieto-Ursúa and colleagues recruited adults in Madrid, Spain during the Coronavirus pandemic and had them complete a questionnaire online that measured spirituality, religiosity, purpose in life; including general meaning, and establishment of specific goals, post-traumatic growth; including personal, interpersonal, social, and socio-political growth, and experiences with COVID-19.

 

They found that women had greater post-traumatic growth than men. People who knew someone affected by COVID-19 had significantly higher post-traumatic growth of all forms and religiosity and those who had experienced COVID-19 had even greater growth and religiosity. They also found that general meaning in life was associated with greater post-traumatic growth while having specific goals was not. In addition, they found that religiosity was associated with overall growth while spirituality was associated with personal growth once meaning was controlled for.

 

It needs to be kept in mind that these findings are correlational making conclusions regarding causation problematic. It’s also the case that there is no comparison condition. Of course, having a control group without COVID-19 would be practically impossible. This.is a natural experiment, taking advantage of a current very unusual event. We can learn from it but must be careful not to form strong conclusions.

 

Speculatively, these results suggest that trauma is associated with higher levels of growth especially in women. Trauma appears to increase religiosity and religiosity appear to promote growth. It is possible that religion provides a refuge to help with coping with the trauma, Spirituality, on the other hand, appears to be associated with greater meaning in life and this in turn is associated with greater personal growth.

 

The findings suggest that trauma can promote personal, interpersonal, social, and socio-political growth. They also show that having meaning in life is important for that growth. In the face of a pandemic, rather than withdrawing, people strengthen. This attests to the resilience of the human spirit.

 

So, post-traumatic growth and religiosity increase during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

“Sometimes when we experience grief, we feel shocked, anxious, fearful, sad, powerless, angry, or helpless. What we need to remember is that all these feelings and many others are normal. Being able to acknowledge where we are emotionally and spiritually can be empowering.” – Together

 

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

 

Prieto-Ursúa M and Jódar R (2020) Finding Meaning in Hell. The Role of Meaning, Religiosity and Spirituality in Posttraumatic Growth During the Coronavirus Crisis in Spain. Front. Psychol. 11:567836. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.567836

 

ABSTRACT

Coronavirus has blighted our world, hitting some countries harder than others. Morbidity and mortality rates make Madrid one of the worst affected places so far in the wake of the coronavirus. The aim of this study was to analyze the presence of post-traumatic growth during the coronavirus crisis and to understand the contribution of meaning, religiosity, and spirituality to such growth; 1,492 people completed the questionnaire; N = 1,091 residents in Madrid were selected for the study. We assessed the personal experience of COVID-19, the Spirituality, Religiosity, Meaning trough Purpose in Life-10 test, and Posttraumatic Growth (Community Post-Traumatic Growth Scale). Results showed significant differences for all measures of growth, with higher values in women. Sex and direct impact of COVID-19 accounted for 4.4% of the variance of growth. The different dimensions of meaning contribute differently to growth. Only religiosity was associated with total growth when meaning was included in the model. This same pattern of results is obtained in models predicting interpersonal and social growth. However, in predicting personal growth, it is spirituality that predicts this type of growth once meaning has been previously controlled for, while religiosity fails to reach a statistically significant level. Our results reflect the interest in maintaining the distinction between spirituality and religiosity, their different roles in traumatic growth and the different dimensions on which each has an effect. Finally, it confirms the importance of meaning in post-traumatic growth, especially the dimension of life goals and purposes.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.567836/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1481182_69_Psycho_20201112_arts_A

 

Distress Is Lower during a COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown in Mindful People

Distress Is Lower during a COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown in Mindful People

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“During the current pandemic, there is so much uncertainty concerning the future, and many threats to our security (physical, social, emotional, and financial). It is totally natural and normal to feel anxious, fearful, and frustrated. . . Mindfulness can help us acknowledge this situation, without allowing us to be carried away with strong emotions; it can, in turn, help bring ourselves back to a centered calm. Only then can we see more clearly what it is we have control over and what it is that we do not.” – Michigan Medicine

 

Modern living is stressful under the best of conditions. But with the COVID-19 pandemic the levels of stress have been markedly increased. These conditions markedly increase anxiety. This is true for everyone but especially for healthcare workers and people caring for patients with COVID-19 and for people with pre-existing conditions that makes them particularly vulnerable. But it is also true for healthy individuals who worry about infection for themselves or loved ones.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has also produced considerable economic stress, with loss of employment and steady income. For the poor this extends to high levels of food insecurity. This not only produces anxiety about the present but also for the future. It is important for people to engage in practices that can help them control their responses to the stress and their levels of anxiety. Mindfulness practices have been found routinely to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress, reduce anxiety levels, and improve mood.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness, Age and Gender as Protective Factors Against Psychological Distress During COVID-19 Pandemic.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01900/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1437459_69_Psycho_20200922_arts_A ) Conversano and colleagues solicited adult participants online during a government ordered lockdown and had them complete measures of COVID-19 experiences, mindfulness, psychological distress, and mental illness symptoms.

 

They found strong negative relationships between mindfulness and psychological distress. They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of psychological distress including somatic symptoms, symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, internalizing symptoms, depression, anxiety, hostility, phobia, paranoia, psychoticism, and sleep disturbance. They also found weak relationships with age and gender such that younger and female participants tended to have higher psychological distress.

 

It needs to be kept in mind that these results are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. Mindfulness may produce reduced distress or conversely distress may produce reduced mindfulness or some third factor may produce both. Nevertheless, the results show that during a pandemic lockdown that the people who have high levels of mindfulness also have low levels of psychological distress.

 

So, distress is lower during a COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in mindful people.

 

In many ways, COVID-19 has shown us just how connected and how much the same we really are. All of us—and some of us more than others—are vulnerable to getting sick and none of us wants to become ill. Viewed through the lens of interconnectedness, practicing mindfulness as the coronavirus spreads is not only a way to care for ourselves but a way to care for everyone around us.” – Kelly Baron

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Conversano C, Di Giuseppe M, Miccoli M, Ciacchini R, Gemignani A and Orrù G (2020) Mindfulness, Age and Gender as Protective Factors Against Psychological Distress During COVID-19 Pandemic. Front. Psychol. 11:1900. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01900

 

Objective: Mindfulness disposition is associated with various psychological factors and prevents emotional distress in chronic diseases. In the present study, we analyzed the key role of mindfulness dispositions in protecting the individual against psychological distress consequent to COVID-19 social distancing and quarantining.

Methods: An online survey was launched on March 13, 2020, with 6,412 responses by April 6, 2020. Socio-demographic information, exposure to the pandemic, and quarantining were assessed together with psychological distress and mindfulness disposition. Multivariate linear regression analysis was performed to study the influence of predictive factors on psychological distress and quality of life in Italian responders during the early days of lockdown. Pearson correlations were calculated to study the relationship between mindfulness and psychiatric symptoms.

Results: Multivariate linear regression run on socio-demographics, COVID-19-related variables, and mindfulness disposition as moderators of overall psychological distress showed that mindfulness was the best predictor of psychological distress (β = −0.504; p < 0.0001). High negative correlations were found between mindfulness disposition and the overall Global Severity Index (r = −0.637; p < 0.0001), while moderate to high associations were found between mindfulness and all SCL-90 sub-scales.

Discussion: Findings showed that high dispositional mindfulness enhances well-being and helps in dealing with stressful situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Mindfulness-based mental training could represent an effective intervention to stem post-traumatic psychopathological beginnings and prevent the onset of chronic mental disorders.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01900/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1437459_69_Psycho_20200922_arts_A

 

Improve Psychological Health in the COVID-19 pandemic with Mindfulness

Improve Psychological Health in the COVID-19 pandemic with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Amid ever-changing information around the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are experiencing heightened stress and anxiety. . . Another way to cope with anxiety is to practice mindfulness.” – Cynthia Weiss

 

Modern living is stressful under the best of conditions. But with the COVID-19 pandemic the levels of stress have been markedly increased. These conditions markedly increase anxiety. This is true for everyone but especially for healthcare workers and people caring for patients with COVID-19 and for people with pre-existing conditions that makes them particularly vulnerable. But it is also true for healthy individuals who worry about infection for themselves or loved ones.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has also produced considerable economic stress, with loss of employment and steady income. For the poor this extends to high levels of food insecurity. This not only produces anxiety about the present but also for the future. It is important for people to engage in practices that can help them control their responses to the stress and their levels of anxiety. Mindfulness practices have been found routinely to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress, reduce anxiety levels, and improve mood.

 

In today’s Research News article “The benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices during times of crisis such as COVID-19.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7287297/), Behan discusses the uses of mindfulness practices for helping individuals cope with the stress and anxiety surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. It is asserted that the pandemic produces psychological issues for individuals and also for those tasked with caring for them and that these issues can be ameliorated with mindfulness practice.

 

For the individual mindfulness practice can be helpful in coping with the anxiety about infection or the future, depression, loneliness, and reduction in quality of life resulting from isolation, physical and psychological manifestations of stress produced by financial and employment concerns or family or relationship difficulties, the strong emotions and general distress produced, the frustration resulting from feelings of helplessness, and the worry and rumination about the present situation and the future or the health of loved ones. Mindfulness practice can even strengthen the immune system to better fight off the infection.

 

For first responders and healthcare workers the pandemic produces a number of difficult issues that may be helped by mindfulness practice. Being mindful or engaging in mindfulness practices can be helpful in coping with the physical and psychological manifestations of stress produced by long hours of working with very sick people with a highly infectious disease, the depression resulting from separation from family and loved ones, the post-traumatic stress disorder that can be produced by repeated exposure to suffering and death, and burnout that can result from the overwhelming quantity and seriousness of the symptoms. In addition mindfulness can help build empathy, compassion, patience, and flexibility that are so important for the treatment of the patients, resilience to withstand the stresses, and the ability to effectively cope with the strong emotions produced.

 

Mindfulness practices have a wide variety of benefits that can be very helpful to the individual and those charged with caring for them in coping with the varied effects of the pandemic. So, improve psychological health in the COVID-19 pandemic by being mindful and engaging in mindfulness practices.

 

There is so much uncertainty about what is to come, and we have less opportunity for social support than in other crises.  Some are already ill, others know someone who is, and many are caring for those who have COVID-19.  In these circumstances, it can be easy to feel frightened and overwhelmed.  Having a regular mindfulness practice can be helpful.” – John Schorling

 

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

 

Behan C. (2020). The benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices during times of crisis such as COVID-19. Irish journal of psychological medicine, 1–3. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1017/ipm.2020.38

 

Abstract

Meditation and mindfulness are practices that can support healthcare professionals, patients, carers and the general public during times of crisis such as the current global pandemic caused by COVID-19. While there are many forms of meditation and mindfulness, of particular interest to healthcare professionals are those with an evidence base such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). Systematic reviews of such practices have shown improvements in measures of anxiety, depression and pain scores. Structural and functional brain changes have been demonstrated in the brains of people with a long-term traditional meditation practice, and in people who have completed a MBSR programme. Mindfulness and meditation practices translate well to different populations across the lifespan and range of ability. Introducing a mindfulness and meditation practice during this pandemic has the potential to complement treatment and is a low-cost beneficial method of providing support with anxiety for all.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7287297/