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/

 

Workplace Well-Being is Associated with Spirituality

Workplace Well-Being is Associated with Spirituality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Burnout, compassion fatigue, career exhaustion—you can rewire your brain to see these afflictions as opportunities for embarking on a new path. You don’t have to stay on a dead-end street.”- Pamela Milam

 

Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for our psychological and physical health. Indeed, the work environment has even become an important part of our social lives, with friendships and leisure time activities often attached to the people we work with. But, more than half of employees in the U.S. and nearly 2/3 worldwide are unhappy at work. This is partially due to work-related stress which is epidemic in the western workplace. Almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This stress can result in impaired health and can result in burnout; producing fatigue, cynicism, and professional inefficacy.

 

Religion and spirituality have been promulgated as solutions to the challenges of life both in a transcendent sense and in a practical sense. There have been a number of studies of the influence of religiosity and spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health. Perhaps, then, spirituality can be helpful in relieving stress and lowering burnout in the workplace.

 

In today’s Research News article “Employee burnout and positive dimensions of well-being: A latent workplace spirituality profile analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7671502/ ) Del Corso and colleagues performed 2 studies of the association of workplace spirituality with the employee well-being. In the first study they recruited employees of 3 different Italian companies and had them complete measures of positive supervisor behavior, burnout, and workplace spirituality.

 

They found that the higher the levels of workplace spirituality the lower the levels of burnout. They also found that positive supervisor behavior was negatively associated with burnout indirectly by being positively associated with workplace spirituality which was in turn negatively associated with burnout. So, spirituality was higher in employees whose supervisors expressed positive supervisory behavior and burnout was lower in employees who were high in spirituality.

 

In the second study they again recruited employees of Italian companies and had them complete measures of workplace spirituality, work engagement, positive emotions, self-efficacy, and resilience. They found that employees who were high in workplace spirituality were significantly higher in positive emotions, resilience, self-efficacy, vigor, dedication, absorption, and work engagement.

 

These studies were correlational and as such caution must be exercised in reaching causal conclusions. With this in mind, the results suggest that workplace spirituality is highly associated with employee well-being and lower levels of burnout. Workplace spirituality is composed of 4 factors; engaging work, sense of community, spiritual connection, and mystical experiences. Two of these components involve a satisfying work environment while two involve dimensions of spirituality. The results suggested that all of these components were significantly involved in the association with well-being.

 

Spirituality has well documented associations with overall well-being of the individuals. This study demonstrates that this extends into the workplace. These results suggest, not surprisingly, that having a satisfying work environment contributes to the employees’ well-being but more surprisingly being spiritual also contributes.

 

So, workplace well-being is associated with spirituality.

 

When people operate with high-stress levels without rest, they reduce productivity and risk their health. . . practices like meditation make your mind strong balanced and flexible and able to focus at will. “ – Spiritual Earth

 

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

 

Dal Corso, L., De Carlo, A., Carluccio, F., Colledani, D., & Falco, A. (2020). Employee burnout and positive dimensions of well-being: A latent workplace spirituality profile analysis. PloS one, 15(11), e0242267. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0242267

 

Abstract

In recent years, a new and promising construct has attracted the attention of organizational research: Workplace spirituality. To investigate the role of workplace spirituality in organizational contexts, two studies were carried out. Study 1 explored the mediation role of workplace spirituality in the relationship between positive supervisor behaviors and employee burnout. Results showed that workplace spirituality strongly contributes to reduce burnout and mediates the effect of supervisor integrity in reducing this threat. Study 2 considered the relationships of workplace spirituality with positive affectivity, resilience, self-efficacy, and work engagement. In particular, workplace spirituality profiles were investigated through latent profile analysis (LPA). Findings showed that workplace spirituality is related to higher positive affectivity, resilience, self-efficacy, and work engagement. In contrast, a workplace spirituality profile characterized by a low-intensity spiritual experience is associated with higher negative feelings. The practical implications of these findings are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7671502/

 

Mind-Body Skills Training Improves College Student Mental Health and Well-Being

Mind-Body Skills Training Improves College Student Mental Health and Well-Being

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

By focusing on and controlling our breath, we can change how we think and feel. We can use the breath as a means of changing our emotional state and managing stress.” —Tommy Rosen

 

There is an accumulating volume of research findings to demonstrate that Mind-body practices have highly beneficial effects on the health and well-being of humans. These include meditation, yoga, tai chi, qigong, biofeedback, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, hypnosis, and deep breathing exercises. Because of their proven benefits the application of these practices to relieving human suffering has skyrocketed.

 

There is a lot of pressure on college students to excel. This stress might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s physical and mental health, well-being, and school performance. Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health. Indeed, these practices have been found to improve psychological health in college students. So, it would be expected that training in mind-body practices would improve the psychological health of college students.

 

In today’s Research News article “Impact of a University-Wide Interdisciplinary Mind-Body Skills Program on Student Mental and Emotional Well-Being.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7686595/ ) Novak and colleagues recruited college students who were enrolled to take a mind-body skills program and an equivalent group of control college students. The program consisted of 9-weeks of once a week for 2 hours training and discussion of “mindfulness, guided imagery, autogenic training, biofeedback, and breathing techniques, as well as art, music, and movement practices” in groups of 10. The students were instructed to practice daily at home for 20 minutes. They were measured before and after training for perceived stress, positive and negative emotions, resilience, depression, anxiety, fatigue, sleep disturbance, mindfulness, interpersonal reactivity, and burnout. Subsets of each group were remeasured one year after the completion of the study. There were no significant differences in these measures between the groups at baseline.

 

They found that in comparison to the baseline and the control group, the students who received mind-body skills training had significant decreases in perceived stress, negative affect, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and burnout and significant increases in positive emotions, resilience, mindfulness, empathic concern, and perspective taking. In addition, the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of perceived stress, negative emotions and depersonalization and the higher the levels of positive emotions, resilience, and perspective taking. Unfortunately, these improvements, except for mindfulness, disappeared by the one year follow up.

 

The present study did not have an active control condition. So, it is possible that confounding factors such as participant expectancy, experimenter bias, attention effects etc. may have been responsible for the results. But in prior controlled research it has been demonstrated that mindfulness training produces decreases in perceived stress, negative emotions, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and burnout and significant increases in positive emotions, resilience, and empathic concern. So, it is likely that the benefits observed in the present study were due to the mind-body skills training.

 

These results then suggest that mind-body skills training produces marked improvements in the psychological health and well-being of college students. But the improvements were not lasting. This may signal the need for better training protocols or periodic booster session to maintain the benefits. Given the great academic stress, pressure, and social stresses of college life, the students were much better off for taking the mind-body skills training program. It was not measured but these benefits would predict increased academic performance and improved well-being in these students.

 

So, mind-body skills training improves college student mental health and well-being.

 

mind/body approaches to healing and wellness are gaining in popularity in the U.S. and research supports their efficacy in treating a number of psychological and physical health issues that are not easily treated by mainstream medicine.” – Doug Guiffrida

 

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

 

Novak, B. K., Gebhardt, A., Pallerla, H., McDonald, S. B., Haramati, A., & Cotton, S. (2020). Impact of a University-Wide Interdisciplinary Mind-Body Skills Program on Student Mental and Emotional Well-Being. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 9, 2164956120973983. https://doi.org/10.1177/2164956120973983

 

Abstract

Background

Positive effects of mind-body skills programs on participant well-being have been reported in health professions students. The success seen with medical students at this university led to great interest in expanding the mind-body skills program so students in other disciplines could benefit from the program.

Objective

The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of a 9-week mind-body skills program on the mental and emotional well-being of multidisciplinary students compared to controls. We also sought to determine if the program’s effects were sustained at 1-year follow-up.

Methods

A cross-sectional pre-post survey was administered online via SurveyMonkey to participants of a 9-week mind-body skills program and a control group of students from 7 colleges at a public university from 2017–2019. Students were assessed on validated measures of stress, positive/negative affect, resilience, depression, anxiety, fatigue, sleep disturbance, mindfulness, empathy, and burnout. Scores were analyzed between-groups and within-groups using bivariate and multivariate analyses. A 1-year follow-up was completed on a subset of participants and controls.

Results

279 participants and 247 controls completed the pre-survey and post-survey (79% response rate; 71% female, 68% white, mean age = 25 years). Participants showed significant decreases in stress, negative affect, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and burnout, while positive affect, resilience, mindfulness, and empathy increased significantly (P < .05). Only sleep disturbance showed a significant decrease in the control group. Follow-up in a subset of participants showed that only mindfulness remained elevated at 1-year (P < .05), whereas the significant changes in other well-being measures were not sustained.

Conclusion

Participation in a 9-week mind-body skills program led to significant improvement in indicators of well-being in multidisciplinary students. A pilot 1-year follow-up suggests that effects are only sustained for mindfulness, but not other parameters. Future programming should focus on implementing mind-body skills booster sessions to help sustain the well-being benefits.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7686595/

 

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/

 

Improve Learning and Well-Being in College Students with Mindfulness and Coaching

Improve Learning and Well-Being in College Students with Mindfulness and Coaching

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

academic benefits of mindfulness include improved memory and focus, as well as relief from stress and anxiety. (Better test scores, anyone?) Mindfulness can also be a remedy for procrastination, which, as it turns out, is an “emotion management problem.” – Priya Thomas

 

In the modern world education is a key for success. Where a high school education was sufficient in previous generations, a college degree is now required to succeed in the new knowledge-based economies. There is a lot of pressure on students to excel so that they can get the best jobs after graduation. This stress might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s physical and mental health, well-being, and school performance. It is, for the most part, beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress, so it is important that methods be found to reduce the college students’ responses to stress; to make them more resilient when high levels of stress occur.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress and resilience in the face of stress. It has also been found to promote the well-being of college students. Academically, it has been shown to improve memory, focused attention, and school performance. Academic coaching has long been known to also assist college students in their studies. The combination of mindfulness and academic coaching, however, has not been well explored.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and Coaching to Improve Learning Abilities in University Students: A Pilot Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7142624/) Corti and Gelati compared meditation naïve college students who signed up for and completed a short 10-module intervention called Mindful Effective Learning to students who did not sign up. Each module lasted for 3.5 hours. Modules trained students for mindfulness meditation, effective self-awareness and attention regulation, self-regulated study, study planning and time management, study techniques and mnemonics. The participants were measured before and after training for study organization, elaboration, self-evaluation, use of strategies, and metacognition, self-regulation, emotion regulation, anxiety, resilience, and mindfulness. They also completed a survey 6 months later about their experiences and one year later reported their grades.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and to the no-treatment control group, the group that received Mindful Effective Learning training had significantly greater improvements in all measured variables. In other words, they had better study skills, mindfulness, self-regulation, motivation, and well-being. In addition, a year later, the trained students had improved grades.

 

This study is interesting but must be interpreted cautiously as the control group was not active and did not receive and training of any kind. This opens the study up to alternative interpretations including attention effects, participant expectancy effects, experimenter bias etc. In addition, the students self-selected whether to participate in Mindful Effective Learning training or not. This suggests that there may have been systematic differences between the students in the two groups.

 

It would have been better if the control group was active, receiving some form of training such as coping with college training. It would have been more interesting if a control group was included that received all of the study skills training without mindfulness meditation. This would help to determine if mindfulness or study skills training was the important component. Regardless, the pilot study was successful and provides rationale for performing a more extensive better controlled study.

 

So, improve learning and well-being in college students with mindfulness and coaching.

 

“Mindfulness and meditation are both great ways for students to improve their health. And the benefits of these practices can also trickle into their academic lives.” – Kenya McCullum

 

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

 

Corti, L., & Gelati, C. (2020). Mindfulness and Coaching to Improve Learning Abilities in University Students: A Pilot Study. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(6), 1935. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17061935

 

Abstract

This pilot study investigated the effects of a short 10-module intervention called MEL (Mindful Effective Learning), which integrates mindfulness, coaching, and training on study strategies, to improve learning abilities among university students. Inspired by ample research on the learning topics that points out how effective learning and good academic results depend simultaneously on self-regulation while studying combined with emotional and motivational factors, the intervention aimed to train students simultaneously in these three aspects. The intervention group participants (N = 21) and the control group participants (N = 24) were surveyed pre- and post-intervention with the Italian questionnaire AMOS (Abilities and Motivation to Study) and the Italian version of the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS). The results showed that, regarding self-regulation in study, trained students improved their self-awareness, self-evaluation ability, metacognition skills, and organizational and elaborative ability to manage study materials; regarding emotional aspects, they improved their anxiety control; regarding motivation they developed an incremental theory of Self and improved their confidence in their own intelligence. Moreover, two follow-up self-report surveys were conducted, and trained students reported positive assessments of the MEL intervention. Findings suggest that a short intervention based on mindfulness and coaching and training on study strategies may improve students’ effective learning.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7142624/

 

Improve Resilience and Inner Peace to Reduce Negative Views of the Past with Mindfulness

Improve Resilience and Inner Peace to Reduce Negative Views of the Past with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness promotes a more balanced time perspective, with a reduced focus on negative aspects of the past and negative anticipations of the future.” – Michael Rönnlund

 

Mindfulness stresses present moment awareness, minimizing focus on past memories and

future planning. Depression is characterized by a focus on the past while anxiety is characterized by focus on the future. This is representative of a past-negative time perspective which is a pessimistic negative view of what transpired in the past. Although awareness of the past and future are important, focus on the present moment generally leads to greater psychological health and well-being. This is generally characterized by inner peach which is a mild positive state with calmness and harmony in the mind. Although these concepts are well known, their interrelationships and the effect of meditation practice on them, have not been well studied.

 

In today’s Research News article “Dispositional Mindfulness and Past-Negative Time Perspective: The Differential Mediation Effects of Resilience and Inner Peace in Meditators and Non-Meditators.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7212969/), Ge and colleagues recruited adults over the internet who regularly meditated and those who did not. They completed questionnaires measuring their meditation experience, mindfulness, resilience, inner peace, and past-negative time perspective.

 

They found that mindfulness, resilience, and inner peace were all significantly and positively inter-related and negatively related to past-negative time perspective. They also found that the meditators had significantly higher levels of mindfulness and inner peace and lower levels of past-negative time perspective than the non-meditators. Structural equation modelling revealed that the negative relationship between mindfulness and past-negative time perspective was mediated by the relationships of mindfulness with resilience and inner peace. That is the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of resilience and inner peace which in turn were related to lower levels of past-negative time perspective. Non-meditators also had an additional direct negative relationship between mindfulness and past-negative time perspective.

 

It should be kept in mind that these results are correlational and causation cannot be determined. But they suggest that mindfulness is associated with greater ability to cope with difficulties, resilience, greater calmness and mental harmony, inner peace, and a less negative pessimistic perspective of past events. In addition, mindfulness’ relationship with less past-negative time perspective, in part, occurs due to mindfulness’ relationship with resilience and inner peace.

 

It can be postulated that mindfulness produces a positive state that is resistant to disruption by events and this produces a more positive assessment of what occurred in the past. This, in turn, prevents the emergence of negative emotional states such as anxiety and depression. This may represent a mechanism whereby mindfulness alters the individual’s psychological makeup resulting in greater psychological health and well-being.

 

So, improve resilience and inner peace to reduce negative views of the past with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness is about being fully aware of each moment in your life. Each thought, feeling, sensation and experience are accepted for what it is. There’s no battle going on in your head and heart. You are open to it ALL.” – Bev Janisch

 

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

 

Ge, J., Yang, J., Song, J., Jiang, G., & Zheng, Y. (2020). Dispositional Mindfulness and Past-Negative Time Perspective: The Differential Mediation Effects of Resilience and Inner Peace in Meditators and Non-Meditators. Psychology research and behavior management, 13, 397–405. https://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S229705

 

Abstract

Purpose

Past-negative time perspective (PNTP) can affect our everyday lives and is associated with negative emotions, unhealthy behaviors, rumination, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dispositional mindfulness may be able to reduce the negative effects of PNTP; however, few studies have investigated their relationship. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore the effect dispositional mindfulness has on PNTP, as well as the mediating role of resilience and inner peace in this regard.

Methods

This study investigated the cross-sectional relationship between self-reported mindfulness, resilience, inner peace, and PNTP. In order to further explore the relationship between mindfulness and PNTP, this study specially selected and analyzed the samples of 185 meditators and 181 non-meditators.

Results

Correlation analysis revealed that mindfulness is significantly positively correlated with resilience and inner peace. Conversely, PNTP is significantly negatively correlated with mindfulness, resilience, and inner peace. Structural equation model analysis revealed that resilience and inner peace partially mediated the relationship between mindfulness and PNTP. Furthermore, a multi-group analysis showed that the mediating effects are different between meditators and non-meditators. For meditators, the effect of mindfulness on PNTP was fully mediated by resilience and inner peace. For non-meditators, the effect of mindfulness on PNTP was only partially mediated by resilience and inner peace.

Conclusion

Based on the significant differences between the mediational models of meditators and non-meditators, we believe that dispositional mindfulness can negatively predict PNTP, and practicing meditation consistently improves dispositional mindfulness, resilience and inner peace and effectively reduces PNTP. Our findings indicate that a combination of mindfulness and PNTP could be used to design new psychological interventions to reduce the symptoms of mental health concerns such as negative bias, rumination, depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7212969/

 

Spirituality is Associated with Greater Resilience in College Students

Spirituality is Associated with Greater Resilience in College Students

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

for many people, religion, personal beliefs and spirituality are a source of comfort, wellbeing, security, meaning, sense of belonging, purpose and strength.” – World Health Organization

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred. There have been a number of studies of the influence of spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health.

 

Stress is ubiquitous in people’s lives and it can interfere with the individual’s ability to achieve their goals and maintain psychological well-being.  When highly stressed, resilience is required to cope with the stress and prevent its negative impact on psychological well-being. It would seem likely that since both spirituality and resilience are related to psychological well-being that they would be related to each other.

 

In today’s Research News article “Relationship between aggression and individual resilience with the mediating role of spirituality in academic students – A path analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7032025/), Sadeghifard and colleagues recruited university students and had them complete measures of spirituality, aggression, and resilience. They then analyzed the relationships between these variables with structural equation modelling.

 

They found that the higher the levels of spirituality the higher the levels of resilience. While the higher the levels of resilience the lower the levels of aggression. They also found that spirituality was related to resilience both directly and indirectly. Structural equation modelling revealed that spirituality was directly related to higher levels of resilience and also indirectly by being related to lower levels of aggression which was, in turn, was related to higher resilience.

 

The study was correlational. So, causation cannot be determined. Nevertheless, the ability to effectively cope with stress and life’s difficulties, resilience, is an important part of maintaining psychological well-being and resilience appears to be impaired by aggression. Spirituality is known to contribute to psychological well-being and it is related to both lower levels of aggression and higher levels of resilience. It can be speculated that the relationship of spirituality to mental health results from its negative relationship with aggression and its positive relationship with resilience.

 

So, spirituality may make college students more resilient and thereby improve their psychological well-being.

 

for many people, religion, personal beliefs and spirituality are a source of comfort, wellbeing, security, meaning, sense of belonging, purpose and strength.” – Olivia Goldhill

 

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

 

Sadeghifard, Y. Z., Veisani, Y., Mohamadian, F., Azizifar, A., Naghipour, S., & Aibod, S. (2020). Relationship between aggression and individual resilience with the mediating role of spirituality in academic students – A path analysis. Journal of education and health promotion, 9, 2. https://doi.org/10.4103/jehp.jehp_324_19

 

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The importance of spirituality and spiritual growth in humans has been increasingly taken to attention by psychologists and mental health professionals. In this study, we aimed to investigate the relationship between the tendency to aggression and individual resilience also considering the role of mediator of spirituality in academic students by path analysis.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

A cross-sectional study was conducted using structural equation method (SEM). The target population consisted all of undergraduate academic students in Ilam, Iran University of Applied Sciences, in 2018. Participants included 200 people whom were selected by stratified random sampling. Data collection tools were demographic, Buss and Perry aggression, spirituality assessment, and resiliency of Connor and Davidson questionnaire. In this study, bivariate analysis was used to determine the directionality correlation between the study variables.

RESULTS:

The results showed that there was a significant and positive correlation between spirituality and resilience (r = 154% r = 83%). Furthermore, there was a negative and nonsignificant relationship between aggression with resiliency (r = −122% P = 101). In addition, there was no significant correlation between the aggression and spirituality (r = 0.05%, P = 0.942). The results of SEM showed that spirituality and aggression can predict about 20% of the variations in the degree of resilience in academic students. Accordingly, the results of SEM spirituality in an indirect path reduce the aggression and thus increase the resilience (r = 0.102).

CONCLUSION:

The results of this study showed the effect of spirituality on increasing the level of resilience and also positive mediator role of spirituality between aggression and resiliency.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7032025/

Mindfulness is Associated with Greater Resilience and Less Emotional and Behavioral Problems in Adolescents

Mindfulness is Associated with Greater Resilience and Less Emotional and Behavioral Problems in Adolescents

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness practice could be beneficial to teens, helping them cultivate empathy, as well as skills for concentration and impulse control. In short, mindfulness can help adolescents navigate the challenges of adolescence.” – Sarah Rundell Beach

 

Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. It is during this time that higher levels of thinking, sometimes called executive function, develops. But adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. This can lead to emotional and behavioral problems.

 

Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms. Mindfulness training in adults has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression levels and improve resilience and emotional regulation. In addition, in adolescents it has been shown to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness, Life Skills, Resilience, and Emotional and Behavioral Problems for Gifted Low-Income Adolescents in China.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00594/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1293822_69_Psycho_20200407_arts_A), Huang and colleagues recruited low-income gifted high school students and measured them for emotional and behavioral problems, including both internalizing and externalizing behaviors, resilience, life skills, including  self-control, assertiveness, refusal and relaxation, and mindfulness.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of resilience and life skills and the lower the levels of emotional and behavioral problems. They also found that the higher the levels of life skills the higher the levels of mindfulness and resilience and the lower the levels of emotional and behavioral problems. Structural modelling revealed that mindfulness and life skills were associated with reduced emotional and behavioral problems both directly and indirectly by being associated with higher levels of resilience that was in turn associated with lower levels of emotional and behavioral problems.

 

These results are interesting but correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. Nevertheless, they suggest that the emotional and behavioral problems of gifted adolescents from low-income families are to some extent reduced by having strong mindfulness, resilience, and life skills. Additionally, the findings suggest that mindfulness and life skills are not only directly related to less emotional and behavioral problems but also indirectly by being related to higher levels of resilience. It remains for future research to determine if these connections are causal by training adolescents in mindfulness and life skills and observing if there are increases in resilience and decreases in emotional and behavioral problems.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with greater resilience and less emotional and behavioral problems in adolescents.

 

“Mindfulness processes and practices can help young people develop emotional resilience, self-awareness and regulation skills that assist them in taking greater responsibility for their behaviors, decisions and relationships.” – Jennifer Frank

 

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

 

Huang C-C, Chen Y, Jin H, Stringham M, Liu C and Oliver C (2020) Mindfulness, Life Skills, Resilience, and Emotional and Behavioral Problems for Gifted Low-Income Adolescents in China. Front. Psychol. 11:594. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00594

 

In contrast to emotional and behavioral problems (EBPs), which can disrupt normal adolescent development, resilience can buffer the effects of stress and adverse childhood experiences and can help youth overcome adversity. While research has looked at the relationship between adolescent resilience and EBPs, current literature relatively lack a discussion of a strengths-based approach of resilience framework, nor discuss non-western sociocultural contexts. In this study, we utilized the resilience theory to examine the effects of individual mindfulness and life skills on resilience and consequently on EBPs in a group of low-income and gifted adolescents in China. A secondary data of 152 adolescents from a specialized school for low-income and gifted students in Guangzhou, China was used for the analysis. The findings from structural equation modeling indicated that mindfulness and life skills were associated with heightened resilience and reduced EBPs. In addition, resilience reduced EBPs for this group of adolescents. These findings underscore the promise of mindfulness and life skills training on increasing resilience and reducing EBPs in gifted adolescents.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00594/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1293822_69_Psycho_20200407_arts_A

 

Reduce Burnout in Medical Residents with Mindfulness

Reduce Burnout in Medical Residents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

while they appreciate the great meaning in their work, clinicians’ ability to disconnect and recharge may be even more critical than it is for others when it comes to how they view work environments and feel as employees.” – David Gregg

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Burnout, in fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. Hence, burnout contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses.

 

Preventing burnout has to be a priority. Unfortunately, it is beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress and prevent burnout. So, it is important that methods be found to reduce the individual’s responses to stress; to make the individual more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress and improve well-being. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep. Hence, mindfulness may be a means to reduce burnout and improve well-being in hospital residents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Evidence-Based Interventions that Promote Resident Wellness from the Council of Emergency Residency Directors.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7081870/), Parsons and colleagues review and summarize the published research regarding methods to reduce burnout in medical residents. From this research they formed conclusions  and recommendations.

 

They report that the published studies demonstrate that medical resident burnout is mitigated by interventions that emphasize mindfulness, stress management, and resilience training. The evidence is fairly strong from well conducted controlled trials. It should be noted that mindfulness training improves both stress management and resilience. So, mindfulness training may be the key to all of the effective training strategies. They also report that working conditions tend to produce fatigue and stress that contribute to burnout. Reduction in burnout can be accomplished by adjustments to the work environment including shift scheduling.

 

So, reduce burnout in medical residents with mindfulness.

 

Research exploring the effects of mindfulness training suggests it produces broad and significant improvements in attributes applicable to patient care and physician well-being.” – American Medical Association

 

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

 

Parsons, M., Bailitz, J., Chung, A. S., Mannix, A., Battaglioli, N., Clinton, M., & Gottlieb, M. (2020). Evidence-Based Interventions that Promote Resident Wellness from the Council of Emergency Residency Directors. The western journal of emergency medicine, 21(2), 412–422. https://doi.org/10.5811/westjem.2019.11.42961

 

Abstract

Initiatives for addressing resident wellness are a recent requirement of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in response to high rates of resident burnout nationally. We review the literature on wellness and burnout in residency education with a focus on assessment, individual-level interventions, and systemic or organizational interventions.

Best Practice Recommendations for Individual Interventions

  • Mindfulness training should be incorporated into residency training to improve wellness and reduce burnout (Level 1b, Grade B).
  • Consider incorporating behavioral interventions, such as reframing, self-compassion, and empathy into residency training (Level 4, Grade C)
  • Encourage self-care with respect to physical, psychological, and emotional health. This should include an emphasis on sleep, healthy eating, regular exercise, development of social and professional support networks, PCP visits, resources for substance abuse, and counseling or mentoring programs (Level 4, Grade C)
  • Program faculty should meet privately with residents potentially suffering from burnout to identify the unique causes and appropriate interventions. Close follow-up meetings should assess improvement (Level 4, Grade C)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7081870/

 

Improve a Biological Marker of Aging, Telomeres, with Meditation

Improve a Biological Marker of Aging, Telomeres, with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“While we might expect our bodies and brains to follow a shared trajectory of development and degeneration over time, by actively practicing strategies such as meditation, we might actually preserve and protect our physical body and brain structure to extend our golden years and shine even more brightly in old age.” – Sonima Wellness

 

One of the most exciting findings in molecular biology in recent years was the discovery of the telomere. This is a component of the DNA molecule that is attached to the ends of the strands. Recent genetic research has suggested that the telomere and its regulation is the biological mechanism that produces aging. As we age the tail of the DNA molecule called the telomere shortens. When it gets very short cells have a more and more difficult time reproducing and become more likely to produce defective cells. On a cellular basis, this is what produces aging. As we get older the new cells produced are more and more likely to be defective. The shortening of the telomere occurs each time the cell is replaced. So, slowly as we age it gets shorter and shorter.

 

Fortunately, there is a mechanism to protect the telomere. There is an enzyme in the body called telomerase that helps to prevent shortening of the telomere. It also promotes cell survival and enhances stress-resistance.  Research suggests that processes that increase telomerase activity tend to slow the aging process by protecting the telomere.  One activity that seems to increase telomerase activity and protect telomere length is mindfulness practice. Hence, engaging in mindfulness practices may protect the telomere and thereby slow the aging process.

 

In today’s Research News article “Telomere length correlates with subtelomeric DNA methylation in long-term mindfulness practitioners.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7067861/), and Mendioroz colleagues recruited long-term meditators (greater than 10 years of experience) and non-meditators matched for gender, ethnic group, and age. They were measured for mindfulness, anxiety, depression, resilience, happiness, self-compassion, experiential avoidance, and quality of life. They also provided blood samples that were assayed for telomere length and DNA methylation.

 

They found that the long-term meditators were significantly higher in for mindfulness, resilience, happiness, self-compassion, and quality of life and significantly lower in for anxiety, depression, and experiential avoidance.

 

They also found that the meditators had significantly longer telomeres than the matched controls. Interestingly, while in the controls the greater the age of the participant the shorter the telomeres, in the long-term meditators, telomere length was the same regardless of age. In addition, they found that in the long-term meditators, telomere length was significantly associated with DNA methylation at specific regions but not for the matched controls.

 

This study found, as have others, that long-term meditation practice is associated with longer telomeres. The fact, that the telomere length was not associated with age in the meditators suggests that meditation practice may protect the individual from age-related erosion of telomeres. The results further suggest that meditation may do so through specific methylation of DNA. Stress has been shown to results in shortening the telomeres. Hence, a potential mechanism whereby meditation may protect telomeres may be by reducing the physiological and psychological responses to stress.

 

It is suspected, but not proven, that telomere length is related to health and well-being. The findings that the long-term meditators had significantly better mental health tends to support this notion. There is evidence that meditation practice increases longevity. It can be speculated that meditation practice may do so by affecting molecular genetic mechanisms that prevent the degradation of the telomeres with age.

 

So, improve a biological marker of aging, telomeres, with meditation.

 

Meditation also helps to protect our telomeres, the protective caps at the end of our chromosomes. Telomeres are longest when we’re young and naturally shorten as we age. Shorter telomeres are associated with stress and higher risk for many diseases including cancer, and depend on the telomerase enzyme to enable them to rebuild and repair.”- Paula Watkins

 

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

 

Mendioroz, M., Puebla-Guedea, M., Montero-Marín, J., Urdánoz-Casado, A., Blanco-Luquin, I., Roldán, M., Labarga, A., & García-Campayo, J. (2020). Telomere length correlates with subtelomeric DNA methylation in long-term mindfulness practitioners. Scientific reports, 10(1), 4564. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-61241-6

 

Abstract

Mindfulness and meditation techniques have proven successful for the reduction of stress and improvement in general health. In addition, meditation is linked to longevity and longer telomere length, a proposed biomarker of human aging. Interestingly, DNA methylation changes have been described at specific subtelomeric regions in long-term meditators compared to controls. However, the molecular basis underlying these beneficial effects of meditation on human health still remains unclear. Here we show that DNA methylation levels, measured by the Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip (Illumina) array, at specific subtelomeric regions containing GPR31 and SERPINB9 genes were associated with telomere length in long-term meditators with a strong statistical trend when correcting for multiple testing. Notably, age showed no association with telomere length in the group of long-term meditators. These results may suggest that long-term meditation could be related to epigenetic mechanisms, in particular gene-specific DNA methylation changes at distinct subtelomeric regions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7067861/