Improve Elementary School Children Behavior with Mindfulness

Improve Elementary School Children Behavior with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Research shows that mindfulness skills improve memory, organizational skills, reading and math scores, all while giving kids the tools they need to handle toxic stress.” – Michelle Kinder

 

Elementary school environments have a huge effect on development. They are also excellent times to teach children the skills to adaptively negotiate its environment. Mindfulness training in school, at all levels has been shown to have very positive effects. These include academic, cognitive, psychological, and social domains. Importantly, mindfulness training in school appears to improve the student’s self-concept. It also improves attentional ability and reduces stress, which are keys to successful learning in school. Since, what occurs in the early years of school can have such a profound, long-term effect on the child it is important to further study the impact of mindfulness training on elementary school children.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of a School-Based Mindfulness Program for Young Children.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8046640/ )  Sciutto and colleagues recruited kindergarten through 3rd grade children aged 5 to 9 years. They were assigned to either receive an 8-week 16 session mindfulness program or to a 4-week delay before the mindfulness program. The teachers rated the children’s behavior for emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity, peer problems, prosocial behavior, and student engagement. Teacher engagement was also measured.

 

During the 4-week delay period there were no significant changes in the children’s behavior. But over the 8-week mindfulness training period there was a significant increase in prosocial behaviors and decrease in externalizing behaviors. This was true for all classes except kindergarten. They also found that the higher the levels of teacher engagement and student engagement, the higher the levels of prosocial behaviors and the lower the levels of externalizing behaviors.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that mindfulness training in elementary school children improves their behaviors. Prosocial behaviors including sharing, helping, and cooperating were improved. In fact, the mindfulness program specifically included training in mindful prosocial behavior. So, it was not surprising that these behaviors were improved. Externalizing behaviors including hyperactivity and conduct problems were also improved. Since, these behaviors interfere with instruction and student learning, it would be expected that their reduction would contribute to overall learning, although this was not measured.

 

In addition, the engagement in the program of teachers and students appears to be very important for the benefits to accrue. Hence, strides should be taken to insure engagement. Overall, the results indicate that the mindfulness program is beneficial for the children and the learning environment. It would be interesting to explore whether these effects are transitory or improve student behavior as they progress through the years.

 

So, improve elementary school children behavior with mindfulness.

 

For children, mindfulness can offer relief from whatever difficulties they might be encountering in life. It also gives them the beauty of being in the present moment.” – Annika Harris

 

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

 

Sciutto, M. J., Veres, D. A., Marinstein, T. L., Bailey, B. F., & Cehelyk, S. K. (2021). Effects of a School-Based Mindfulness Program for Young Children. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 1–12. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-021-01955-x

 

Abstract

Schools are an attractive setting for implementation of mindfulness-based programs because mindfulness practices, by their very nature, align with a wide range of core educational goals. The present study investigated the effects of an 8-week (16 session) school-based mindfulness program for young children across 8 classrooms (K through 2) using a quasi-experimental delayed-intervention control group design. Results indicated that the mindfulness program was associated with significant improvements in teacher ratings of externalizing and prosocial behaviors. Program outcomes were not associated with child sex or race/ethnicity, but did vary by grade. Descriptive analyses suggest that outcomes tended to be more positive in classrooms with higher levels of teacher and student engagement. Results of the present study add to the growing knowledge base on the positive effects of school-based mindfulness programs and point to a need for more rigorous inquiry into the extent to which students and teachers are engaged with mindfulness programs both during the program itself and in their day to day functioning.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8046640/

 

Mindfulness Improves the Attention. Memory, and Stress Resistance of Junior High School Students.

Mindfulness Improves the Attention. Memory, and Stress Resistance of Junior High School Students.

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

youth benefit from learning mindfulness in terms of improved cognitive outcomes, social-emotional skills, and well being. In turn, such benefits may lead to long-term improvements in life.’ – Mindful Schools

 

Childhood and adolescence are miraculous periods during which the youth is dynamically learning and absorbing information from every aspect of its environment. Mindfulness training in school has been shown to have very positive effects. These include improvements in the academic, cognitive, psychological, and social domains. Importantly, mindfulness training in school appears to improve attentional ability which is fundamental to success in all aspects of academic performance. It is unclear the degree to which the students’ levels of mindfulness (trait mindfulness) without training are related to students’ attention, memory, and stress.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Relationship Among Trait Mindfulness, Attention, and Working Memory in Junior School Students Under Different Stressful Situations.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7960675/ ) Li and colleagues performed 2 studies. For both they recruited youths aged 8 to 15 years and measured them for mindfulness, attention and working memory.

 

In the first study they found that the higher the level of mindfulness the higher the levels of attention and working memory. A mediation analysis revealed that mindfulness was associated with working memory directly and also indirectly by being associated with higher levels of attention which in turn were associated with higher levels of working memory. So, the mindfulness association with better working memory was direct and indirect via attention.

 

In a second study they separated the students into a high mindfulness group (top 27%) and a low mindfulness group (bottom 27%). They then measured attention and working memory under 3 conditions; stress-free, single stress, and multiple stresses. The stress-free condition was like that used in study 1. In the single stress condition, a time constraint was placed on the performance of the attention and memory tests. In the multiple stress condition, the time constraint was maintained and additionally the students were informed that the results would be used to determine the top students for individual separate instruction in school.

 

They found that the high mindfulness group had higher attention and working memory scores than the low mindfulness group regardless of condition. They also found that for the high mindfulness group, stress improved both attention and memory scores relative to the stress-free condition with the single stress condition producing the greatest increase. On the other hand, the low mindfulness group had non-significant decreases in performance when stressed.

 

In the present studies the association between mindfulness and attention and working memory are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. Previous research, however, has clearly demonstrated that mindfulness causes increases in attention and memory. So, the relationship seen here is likely due to a causal connection. The present study, though, demonstrates that the effects of mindfulness on memory are both direct and indirect via effects on attention.

 

The present study also shows that stress improves the performance of high but not low mindfulness students. Stress is known to interfere with attention and memory performance. But mindfulness has been shown to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. So, it appears that mindfulness reduces the students’ responses to stress and thereby further improves their attention and memory.

 

So, mindfulness improves the attention. memory, and stress resistance of junior high school students.

 

Students who did about an hour of “mindfulness training” for eight days subsequently did better on the GRE as well as tests of working memory and mind-wandering.” – James Hamblin

 

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

 

Li, Y., Yang, N., Zhang, Y., Xu, W., & Cai, L. (2021). The Relationship Among Trait Mindfulness, Attention, and Working Memory in Junior School Students Under Different Stressful Situations. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 558690. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.558690

 

Abstract

Attention and working memory are important cognitive functions that affect junior school students’ learning ability and academic performance. This study aimed to explore the relationships among trait mindfulness, attention, and working memory and to explore differences in performance between a high trait mindfulness group and a low one in attention and working memory under different stressful situations. In study 1, 216 junior school students completed the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), and their attention and working memory were tested in a non-pressure situation. The results showed that attention had a partial mediating effect between mindfulness and working memory. In study 2, the high trait mindfulness group and the low one were tested for attention and working memory under situations with single and multiple pressures. One notable result was that the attention and working memory performances of the high mindfulness group were all significantly higher than those of the low mindfulness group in every stress situation (no stress, single stress, and multiple stresses). Other important results were that trait mindfulness moderates the relationship between stress and attention and between stress and working memory. These results suggest that trait mindfulness has a protective effect in the process by which various stresses affect attention and working memory. These findings indicate that trait mindfulness is an important psychological quality that affects the attention and working memory of junior school students, and it is also an important psychological resource for effectively coping with the impact of stress on attention and working memory. Therefore, it is possible that improving trait mindfulness may help to improve junior school students’ attention and working memory and enable them to cope better with stress, thereby helping to improve academic performance. This research is of great significance for understanding the association between key psychological qualities and cognitive functions in different stressful situations. These findings also provide insight for future studies in educational psychology.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7960675/

 

University Leaders and Teachers Mindfulness are Associated with Lower Emotional Exhaustion in Teachers

University Leaders and Teachers Mindfulness are Associated with Lower Emotional Exhaustion in Teachers

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“leader mindfulness significantly reduces the emotional exhaustion of university teachers.” – Beini Liu

 

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 not only to productivity in the workplace but also to our psychological and physical health. Mindfulness practices have been implemented in the workplace and they have been shown to markedly reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. This, in turn, improves productivity and the well-being of the employees. As a result, many businesses have incorporated mindfulness practices into the workday.

 

Mindfulness may also help to promote leadership in the workplace. It can potentially do so by enhancing emotion regulation, making the individual better able to recognize, experience, and adaptively respond to their emotions, and making the leader better able to listen to and to understand the needs and emotion of the workers they lead. Hence, the mindfulness of the leader may well be associated with University teachers’ well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “Influence of Leader Mindfulness on the Emotional Exhaustion of University Teachers: Resources Crossover Effect.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7959755/ ) Liu and colleagues recruited public university leaders and teachers and had them complete a questionnaire measuring leader mindfulness and teacher mindfulness, workplace telepressure, emotional exhaustion, self-efficacy, working hours, and years in current position.

 

They found that with gender, age, tenure, and hours worked statistically controlled that the higher the level of the leader’s mindfulness the lower the level of the teacher’s emotional exhaustion and the lower the levels of telepressure. A mediation analysis revealed the leader’s mindfulness was associated with lower teacher emotional exhaustion directly and also indirectly by being associated with lower telepressure and telepressure was associated with higher levels of teacher emotional exhaustion. This association between the leader’s mindfulness and the lower teacher’s emotional exhaustions was significantly stronger when the teachers had high levels of mindfulness. Finally, they found that the higher the levels of the teacher’s self-efficacy the weaker the relationship between telepressure and emotional exhaustion.

 

The study was correlational so no conclusions regarding causation can be reached. Nevertheless, the associations between the variables are interesting. It is clear that mindfulness is important both within the individual teacher and also in the leader for being associated with lower teacher emotional exhaustion. It has previously been shown that mindfulness decreases burnout. So, the relationships observed here probably results from a causal connection.

 

Workplace telepressure “is a psychological state in which employees are constantly concerned about urgently responding to work-related ICTs [Information and Communications Technologies] during non-working hours.” These communications appear to be associated with higher levels of emotional exhaustion and these, in part, appear to mediate the effects of mindfulness on emotional exhaustion. In addition, when the teachers had high self-efficacy, telepressure had less of an impact on emotional exhaustion.

 

Preventing teacher burnout is important not only for the teacher’s well-being but also for the students’ education. It is clear that mindful academic leadership is important, suggesting that mindfulness training for leaders may improve the workplace environment for the teachers. The teacher’s level of mindfulness and self-efficacy appear also to be important, suggesting that mindfulness and self-efficacy training for the teachers would also likely improve their well-being. The results also suggest that communications to the teachers should be limited and less urgent. Being cognizant of the importance of these relationships can help to improve the environment, psychological health, and performance of university teachers.

 

So, university leaders’ and teachers’ mindfulness are associated with lower emotional exhaustion in teachers.

 

administrators and school leaders can increase retention and efficacy by seeking out ways to support teachers’ self-care and learning of mindfulness techniques.” – Kelsey Milne

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Liu, B., Zhang, Z., & Lu, Q. (2021). Influence of Leader Mindfulness on the Emotional Exhaustion of University Teachers: Resources Crossover Effect. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 597208. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.597208

 

Abstract

This study combined conservation of resources theory with the job demands-resources model to explore the influence of leader mindfulness on the emotional exhaustion of university teachers Using a time-lagged research design, 388 paired data sets were gathered. Multiple regression and bootstrapping were used to test each hypothesis. The results showed that first, leader mindfulness significantly reduces the emotional exhaustion of university teachers. Second, the results showed that workplace telepressure partially mediates the relationship between leader mindfulness and the emotional exhaustion of university teachers. Third, university teacher mindfulness positively moderates the relationship between leader mindfulness and workplace telepressure. Finally, the results of this study indicate that self-efficacy in managing negative emotions negatively moderates the relationship between workplace telepressure and the emotional exhaustion of university teachers. This study empirically examined the interpersonal influence of leader mindfulness and the initial resources effect of university teacher mindfulness and self-efficacy in managing negative emotions from the bilateral perspective of leaders and university teachers.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7959755/

 

Improve Physiological Responses to Stress in Schools with Mind-Body Practices

Improve Physiological Responses to Stress in Schools with Mind-Body Practices

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness exercises have been shown to help students reduce stress and anxiety, gain conscious control over behaviors and attitudes, and improve focus.” – Robin L. Flanigan

 

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

 

It is, for the most part, beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress, so it is important that methods be found to reduce the students’ responses to stress; to make them more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Mind-body practices including meditationmindfulness training, and yoga practice have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. There is accumulating evidence of the effectiveness of mind-body practices on the students’ stress levels. So, it makes sense to summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mind-Body Physical Activity Interventions and Stress-Related Physiological Markers in Educational Settings: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7795448/ ) Strehli and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research studies on the ability of mind-body practices to lower physiological indicators of stress in schools. They included studies involving elementary school, high school, and college students.

 

They identified 26 published studies, 80% of which were yoga based. They report that the published research found that the mind-body practices resulted in significant decreases in heart rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and stress hormone (cortisol) levels. These effects were stronger for the college students and less so for high school and elementary school children.

 

The results suggest that mind-body practices reduce the physiological indicators of stress in school children and adolescents. This fits with previous findings with a variety of groups that mindfulness practices reduce the physiological responses to stress. This is thought to result from increases in balance in the autonomic nervous system. Regardless the published research literature suggests that mind-body practices are beneficial for school students, particularly college students, reducing their levels of stress.

 

So, improve physiological responses to stress in schools with mind-body practices.

 

Students who engage in mindful movement activities can see a multitude of benefits, including increased strength and energy, better posture, reduced stress and improved attentiveness, self-confidence, self-awareness and self-care habits. Mind-body exercises also provide ways to build and strengthen relationships with others.” – Accredited Schools Online

 

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

 

Strehli, I., Burns, R. D., Bai, Y., Ziegenfuss, D. H., Block, M. E., & Brusseau, T. A. (2020). Mind-Body Physical Activity Interventions and Stress-Related Physiological Markers in Educational Settings: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(1), 224. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18010224

 

Abstract

Mind–Body Physical Activity (MBPA) in educational settings is one possible preventive strategy for ameliorating stress-related physiological health parameters. The objectives of this study were to conduct a systematic review of the literature with meta-analyses on the effects of MBPA on stress-related physiological health markers in primary, secondary, and higher education students. In accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, the search for peer-reviewed articles published in English was conducted in PubMed, EBSCOhost, PsychInfo, Scopus, and Cochrane Library databases. Criteria for inclusion consisted of empirical studies targeting the student population (primary, secondary, higher education), studies examining the effectiveness of an MBPA intervention, studies including a control or comparison group (pre-test/post-test studies excluded), studies targeting physiological marker outcomes such as heart rate, blood glucose, cortisol, and blood pressure, and finally, studies examining interventions implemented within educational settings. Twenty-six interventions were eligible for the review and quantitative synthesis, which comprised a total of 1625 participants, with 783 students serving within the control/comparison group. There were statistically significant and large pooled effects for MBPA effectiveness for lowering heart rate (Hedges’ g = −1.71, 95% Confidence Interval (CI): −2.43, −0.98), cortisol (Hedges’ g = −1.32, 95% CI: −2.50, −0.16), and systolic and diastolic blood pressure (Hedges’ g = −1.04, 95% CI: −1.53, −0.58). These effects tended to be stronger in older students compared to younger students. Most analyses were characterized as having high heterogeneity and only 10 of the 26 studies were characterized as good quality (38.4%). MBPA interventions may have a positive impact on specific physiological health markers in students, especially in students within higher education. However, higher-quality research is needed in this area.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7795448/

 

Mind Wandering is Negatively Associated with Attention and Academic Success

Mind Wandering is Negatively Associated with Attention and Academic Success

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mind-wandering–related deficits in performance have been observed in many contexts, most notably reading, tests of sustained attention, and tests of aptitude.” – Sara Briggs

 

We spend a tremendous amount of waking time with our minds wandering and not on the present environment or the task at hand. We daydream, plan for the future, review the past, ruminate on our failures, exalt in our successes. In fact, we spend almost half of our waking hours off task with our mind wandering. Mindfulness is the antithesis of mind wandering. When we’re mindful, we’re paying attention to what is occurring in the present moment. In fact, the more mindful we are the less the mind wanders and mindfulness training reduces mind wandering.

 

You’d think that if we spend so much time with the mind wandering it must be enjoyable. But, in fact research has shown that when our minds are wandering, we are actually less happy than when we are paying attention to what is at hand. There are times when mind wandering may be useful, especially in regard to planning and creative thinking. But, for the most part, it interferes with our concentration on the present moment and what we’re doing and makes us unhappy. There is budding research interest in studying mind wandering and its effects upon academic success.

 

In today’s Research News article “Trait-Level Variability in Attention Modulates Mind Wandering and Academic Achievement.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7271744/ )  In the first of two experiments, Pereira and colleagues recruited participants online and had them complete measures of overall grade point average, levels of mind wandering, effortful control, orienting sensitivity, and negative emotions. They found that mind wandering was reported to occur 19% of the time. They found that the higher the levels of mind wandering, the lower the levels of effortful control and extraversion, but higher levels of negative emotions. They also found that for participants low in effortful control that mind wandering was associated with lower academic performance while for those high in effortful control mind wandering was associated with better academic performance.

 

In the first experiment they used a self-report measure of mind wandering. In the second experiment they employed an objective measure of mind wandering. They recruited college students and had them complete the same measures as in the first experiment. They then tested them with a visual metronome (tracking) task where response variation is an objective measure of mind wandering. Similar to experiment 1 they found that the higher the levels of mind wandering, the lower the levels of effortful control.

 

The results suggest that one of the key associations of mind wandering is with lower effortful control. Effortful control is a measure of the ability to focus attention. The measure involves agreement with statements such as “I can keep performing a task even when I would rather not do it.” Since the results are correlational it cannot be determined if mind wandering lowers effortful control or if effortful control lowers mind wandering. It will require a manipulative study to determine this. Regardless, the results suggest that mind wandering and effortful control are negatively related and that high effortful control appears to counteract the negative effect of mind wandering on academic performance.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be associated with lower mind wandering and better academic performance. It would be interesting to investigate the ability of mindfulness training to produce changes in effortful control and mind wandering and their relationship with academic performance.

 

So, mind wandering is negatively associated with attention and academic success.

 

mind wandering is related to lecture comprehension, reading, general academic ability, problem solving, and future planning.” – Amy Pachai

 

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

 

Pereira, E. J., Gurguryan, L., & Ristic, J. (2020). Trait-Level Variability in Attention Modulates Mind Wandering and Academic Achievement. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 909. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00909

 

Abstract

Although mind wandering remains ubiquitous in daily life, the processes that underlie and sustain this behavior remain poorly understood. Across two experiments, we studied the role of intrinsic temperament traits, which shape stable behavioral processes, in moderating the association between mind wandering and the real-life functional outcome of academic success. In Experiment 1, participants completed the Mind Wandering Questionnaire, the Adult Temperament Questionnaire, and reported their grade for the highest degree completed or in progress. Individuals with traits of low Effortful control, high Negative affect, and low Extraversion indicated more mind wandering. Effortful control moderated the relationship between mind wandering and academic success, with higher tendency for mind wandering associated with higher academic achievement for individuals with high Effortful control, and lower academic achievement for those with low Effortful control. Experiment 2 confirmed these links using the visual metronome response task, an objective measure of mind wandering. Together, these results suggest that the intrinsic temperament trait of Effortful control represents one of the key mechanisms behind the functional influence of mind wandering on real-life outcomes. This work places an innate ability to control attention at the very core of real life success, and highlights the need for studying mind wandering through an interdisciplinary lens that brings together cognitive, biological, social, and clinical theories in order to understand the fundamental mechanisms that drive this behavior.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7271744/

 

Reduce High School Students’ Anxiety Levels with Mindfulness

Reduce High School Students’ Anxiety Levels with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Anxiety has become a large mental health concern in students, and schools should implement mindfulness to teach students to understand and regulate their anxiety.” – Gina Bradshaw

 

There is a lot of pressure on high school students to excel so that they can get the best jobs or admission into the best universities 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. 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 high school students. It is important to ascertain whether mindfulness can be integrated into the high school curriculum and produce improvements in student mental health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Classroom-Based Mindfulness Training Reduces Anxiety in Adolescents: Acceptability and Effectiveness of a Cluster-Randomized Pilot Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7755132/ ) Johnstone and colleagues recruited students taking mandatory health education classes at a private high school. The students in 3 classrooms received 8 weeks of mindfulness training, in 2 classrooms received 8 weeks of wellness training, and in 8 classrooms received the usual health education curriculum. Along with the regular curriculum students in the mindfulness classes received training in meditation, body scan, and yoga while those in the wellness classes received training in time management and conflict resolution strategies. The students were instructed to practice at home for 10 minutes each day. The students completed measures of their expectancies, interventions acceptability, attendance, and their satisfaction with the intervention. Before and after the interventions they completed measures of mindfulness, perceived stress, depression, and anxiety.

 

They found that the students in the mindfulness training classrooms had significant reductions in anxiety after training compared to baseline and the students in the usual health education classes. But they did not significantly differ from the students in the wellness training classes. There were no significant differences between the groups in depression or perceived stress.

 

The students in the study did not have clinical levels of anxiety or depression prior to the study. So, improvements in mental health would be hard to detect given the low baseline. Nevertheless, significant reductions in anxiety were detected. Mindfulness training has been routinely found in prior research to reduce anxiety in both clinical and non-clinical participants. So, the reduced anxiety in the present study was not surprising.

 

Anxiety in high school students is generally high as the students are under pressure to perform in addition to the difficult adjustments ongoing during adolescence. High anxiety tends to interfere with school performance and social adjustments. Reducing these anxiety levels should be quite helpful to these students. Academic performance was not measured in the present study. But it would be predicted that reductions in anxiety in the students would result in better academic performance.

 

So, reduce high school students’ anxiety levels with mindfulness.

,

With 15 minutes of daily meditation for at least three weeks, the brain becomes more responsive and less reactive — which can be especially helpful to teens prone to anxiety or erratic behavior,” – Jane Ehrman

 

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

 

Johnstone, J. M., Ribbers, A., Jenkins, D., Atchley, R., Gustafsson, H., Nigg, J. T., Wahbeh, H., & Oken, B. (2020). Classroom-Based Mindfulness Training Reduces Anxiety in Adolescents: Acceptability and Effectiveness of a Cluster-Randomized Pilot Study. Journal of restorative medicine, 10(1), 10.14200/jrm.2020.0101. https://doi.org/10.14200/jrm.2020.0101

 

Abstract

Objective:

Many high school students experience a high degree of anxiety and perceived stress. This study examined whether a classroom-based mindfulness program or a wellness program were acceptable and effective as anxiety and stress reduction interventions based on students’ self-reports.

Design, setting, and participants:

Thirteen health education classes (n=285 students, aged 14–16 years) were randomized by classroom to one of three conditions: mindfulness, wellness, or usual health class only (passive control/ waitlist), for 8 weeks.

Outcomes:

Pre- and post-intervention scores compared self-reported measures of depression, anxiety and stress.

Results:

Complete data were available from nine classes (n=202 students). Post-intervention anxiety scores were reduced in students who received the mindfulness intervention compared to those who received only their usual health class (β=−0.07, SE=0.03, P≤0.001; 95% CI=−0.12, −0.02). No significant between group differences were found for depression or stress (P>0.4). Students’ satisfaction with the mindfulness intervention they received withstood baseline credibility and expectancy effects: r=0.21, n=67, P=0.17 for credibility; r=−0.001, n=67, P=0.99 for expectancy. However, students’ satisfaction with the wellness intervention they received was positively correlated with their pre-intervention expectations, r=0.42, n=47, P>0.001. Fifty-two percent of the 68 students assigned to mindfulness (n=35) used the iPad app for mindfulness home practice at least once; of those, 10% used it 10 or more times.

Conclusion:

Eight weeks of classroom-based mindfulness, with limited home practice, reduced self-reported anxiety compared to usual health class, and withstood baseline expectancy effects in this group of high school students, a majority who come from high income families.

Clinical implications:

School- or community-based mindfulness may be an appropriate recommendation for adolescents who experience anxiety.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7755132/

 

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/

 

Improve Brain Systems Underlying Sustained Attention in Sixth Graders with Mindfulness

Improve Brain Systems Underlying Sustained Attention in Sixth Graders with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“research suggests that mindfulness meditation can increase awareness of our thoughts, or meta-cognitive awareness, as well as regulate emotion, enhance attention and reduce stress. These changes can also be detected in the brain.” – B. Grace Bullock

 

Childhood is a miraculous period during which the child is dynamically absorbing information from every aspect of its environment. This is particularly evident during the elementary school years. Mindfulness training in school has been shown to have very positive effects. These include improvements in the academic, cognitive, psychological, and social domains. Importantly, mindfulness training in school appears to improve attentional ability which is fundamental to success in all aspects of academic performance.

 

There is evidence that mindfulness training improves attention by altering the brain. It appears That mindfulness training increases the size, connectivity, and activity of areas of the brain that are involved in paying attention. Hence, it is important to further study the impact of mindfulness training on the development of attentional ability and associated brain mechanisms in elementary school children.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness training preserves sustained attention and resting state anticorrelation between default-mode network and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex: A randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7670646/ ) Bauer and colleagues recruited 6th grade students and randomly assigned them to receive 45 minute 4 times per week for 8 weeks mindfulness or computer coding training. They were measured before and after training for sustained attention with a 15-minute go-no-go task and had their brains scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

 

They found in comparison to baseline and the computer coding group that the mindfulness training produced a significant improvement in sustained attention (Go accuracy) while the computer coding group had a significant decrease in accuracy. The brain scans revealed an anticorrelation between the Default Mode Network (DMN) of the brain and the Central Executive Network (CEN), such that as one becomes active the other becomes less active.

This anticorrelation was related to baseline sustained attention, with better sustained attention correlated with greater anticorrelation. They also found that after mindfulness training the anticorrelation was maintained while it decreased in the computer coding group. In addition, they found that the greater the increase in sustained attention after mindfulness training, the greater the increase in the anticorrelation while this was not true for the compute coding group.

 

The Default Mode Network (DMN) of the brain is a set of interconnected brain structures that is thought to be involved in mind wandering, thoughts not related to the task at hand, while the Central Executive Network (CEN) of the brain is a set of interconnected brain structures that is thought to be involved in high level thinking and attention to the task at hand. The anticorrelation between the two systems indicates that as the brain system underlying attention becomes stronger the brain system underlying mind wandering becomes weaker and vice versa. The strengthening of the anticorrelation indicates better neural processing ability by segregating mind wandering from attention, resulting in better sustained attention.

 

The results suggest that mindfulness training in 6th graders improves sustained attention by improving the brain systems underlying sustained attention with the greater the improvement in attention the greater the increase in the anticorrelation. These results indicate how mindfulness training may improve attention in these children. They suggest that mindfulness training improves neural processing which in turn improves the children’s attentional ability. Although not investigated, improvement in attention should result in better academic performance.

 

So, improve brain systems underlying sustained attention in sixth graders with mindfulness.

 

a brief 10-min guided mindfulness meditation instruction period can improve executive attentional control even in naïve, inexperienced meditators.” – Catherine Norris

 

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

 

Bauer, C., Rozenkrantz, L., Caballero, C., Nieto-Castanon, A., Scherer, E., West, M. R., Mrazek, M., Phillips, D. T., Gabrieli, J., & Whitfield-Gabrieli, S. (2020). Mindfulness training preserves sustained attention and resting state anticorrelation between default-mode network and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex: A randomized controlled trial. Human brain mapping, 41(18), 5356–5369. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25197

 

Abstract

Mindfulness training can enhance cognitive control, but the neural mechanisms underlying such enhancement in children are unknown. Here, we conducted a randomized controlled trial (RCT) with sixth graders (mean age 11.76 years) to examine the impact of 8 weeks of school‐based mindfulness training, relative to coding training as an active control, on sustained attention and associated resting‐state functional brain connectivity. At baseline, better performance on a sustained‐attention task correlated with greater anticorrelation between the default mode network (DMN) and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), a key node of the central executive network. Following the interventions, children in the mindfulness group preserved their sustained‐attention performance (i.e., fewer lapses of attention) and preserved DMN–DLPFC anticorrelation compared to children in the active control group, who exhibited declines in both sustained attention and DMN–DLPFC anticorrelation. Further, change in sustained‐attention performance correlated with change in DMN–DLPFC anticorrelation only within the mindfulness group. These findings provide the first causal link between mindfulness training and both sustained attention and associated neural plasticity. Administered as a part of sixth graders’ school schedule, this RCT supports the beneficial effects of school‐based mindfulness training on cognitive control.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7670646/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Reduced Psychological Distress in Kindergarten Teachers

Mindfulness is Associated with Reduced Psychological Distress in Kindergarten Teachers

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness—the ability to stay focused on one’s present experience with nonjudgmental awareness—can help us to promote the calm, relaxed, but enlivened classroom environment that children need to learn. Mindfulness can also help us to be more effective at reducing conflict and developing more positive ways of relating in the classroom, which can help us feel more job satisfaction.” – Patricia Jennings

 

Stress is epidemic in the workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This often produces burnout; fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, and professional inefficacy. In a school setting, this burnout and exhaustion not only affects teachers and administrators personally, but also the students and schools, as it produces a loss of enthusiasm, empathy, and compassion.

 

Hence, there is a need to identify methods of reducing stress and improving teachers’ psychological health. Mindfulness has been demonstrated to be helpful in reducing the psychological and physiological responses to stress and for treating and preventing burnout in a number of work environments. But the effects of mindfulness on kindergarten teachers has not been explored.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and Psychological Distress in Kindergarten Teachers: The Mediating Role of Emotional Intelligence.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7664406/ ) Cheng and colleagues recruited kindergarten teachers in China and had them complete measures of mindfulness in teaching, emotional intelligence, perceived stress, anxiety, and depression. These data were then subjected to regression and mediation analyses.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness in the teachers the higher the levels of emotional intelligence including self-emotional appraisal, others-emotional appraisal, use of emotion, and regulation of emotion. They also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness, the lower the levels of anxiety, depression, psychological distress, and perceived stress. In addition, the higher the levels of emotional intelligence, the lower the levels of anxiety, depression, psychological distress, and perceived stress.

 

They performed a mediation analysis on the data and found that the association of mindfulness with psychological distress was both direct and indirect via emotional intelligence. That is mindfulness was not only associated directly with lower levels of psychological distress but also indirectly by being associated with higher levels of emotional intelligence which, in turn, was associated with lower levels of psychological distress. Further mediation analyses revealed that regulation of emotion was the aspect of emotional intelligence that was responsible for the mediation.

 

It should be kept in mind that these results are correlational and causation cannot be definitively concluded. But, it has been established in previous research the mindfulness training produces increased emotional intelligence and decreased levels of anxiety, depression, psychological distress, and perceived stress. So, the present results likely represent causal effects. Hence, it appears that mindfulness in teaching improves the psychological and emotional well-being of kindergartner teachers. This should not only make the teachers more effective in the classroom but also reduce the likelihood of teacher burnout.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with reduced psychological distress in kindergarten teachers.

 

Practicing mindfulness in your own life can organically lead to integrating it into your classes in a variety of ways, whether by inviting students to take two feet one breath or by beginning class with a moment of mindful breathing.” – Alison Cohen

 

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

 

Cheng, X., Ma, Y., Li, J., Cai, Y., Li, L., & Zhang, J. (2020). Mindfulness and Psychological Distress in Kindergarten Teachers: The Mediating Role of Emotional Intelligence. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(21), 8212. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17218212

 

Abstract

Kindergarten teachers are often exposed to great stress. Considering that, mindfulness has been demonstrated to act as a critical role in the psychological well-being of kindergarten teachers. The present study assessed mindfulness in teaching (MT), psychological distress and emotional intelligence (EI) among 511 kindergarten teachers in mainland China and investigated the mediating role of EI to explore the association mechanism between kindergarten teachers’ MT and psychological distress. The major results suggested that kindergarten teachers’ MT was negatively related to their psychological distress (depression, anxiety, and stress). Results of path analyses indicated that the total score of EI and dimension of regulation of emotion (ROE) could serve as significant mediators. The findings suggest that mindfulness might be beneficial to relieve kindergarten teachers’ psychological distress through the mediating role of EI.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7664406/

 

Decrease Stress’ Ability to Produce Depression with Mindfulness

Decrease Stress’ Ability to Produce Depression with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness has become a popular way to help people manage their stress and improve their overall well-being — and a wealth of research shows it’s effective.” – American Psychological Association

 

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

 

It is, for the most part, beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress, so it is important that methods be found to reduce the college students’ responses to stress; to make them more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices including meditationmindfulness training, and yoga practice have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. So, it would seem important to examine various techniques to relieve the stress and its consequent symptoms of depression in college students.

 

In today’s Research News article “Moderating Effect of Mindfulness on the Influence of Stress on Depression According to the Level of Stress among University Students in South Korea.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7560191/ ) Park and colleagues recruited non-freshman college students and had them complete measures of life stress, mindfulness, and depression. These data were then subjected to multiple regression analysis.

 

They found that stress and depression were significantly higher in female than male students, in low economic status students and in students with low subjective health. They report that the higher the levels of stress, the higher the levels of depression and the higher the levels of mindfulness, the lower the levels of both stress and depression. They also found that high levels of mindfulness interrupted the relationship between stress and depression in the students with low levels of stress but not in the students with high levels of stress.

 

These results are interesting but conclusions must be tempered with the understanding that the study was correlative and causation cannot be determined. It would seem to make sense that money and health issues would be associated with greater stress and depression levels. The fact that stress and depression were higher in female students has also been reported in multiple studies. So, life conditions and gender are important factors in generating stress and depression.

 

It has been well established in prior research that mindfulness training lowers stress and depression. So, the associations seen in the present study are likely due to causal relations. This suggests the mindfulness lowers depression directly and also by reducing the effects of low levels of stress on depression. These results suggest that mindfulness training may be effective, then, for improving the mental health of college students.

 

So, decrease stress’ ability to produce depression with mindfulness.

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Park, K. H., Kim, H., & Kim, J. (2020). Moderating Effect of Mindfulness on the Influence of Stress on Depression According to the Level of Stress among University Students in South Korea. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(18), 6634. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186634

 

Abstract

Stress and depression are representative of the mental health problems of university students worldwide. This cross-sectional study explored the moderating effect of mindfulness on the influence of stress on depression according to the degree of life stress. The participants were 738 university students in years 2–4 in five 4-year universities in South Korea. Depression was positively correlated with stress and negatively with mindfulness at a statistically significant level. In multiple regression analysis, stress was found to have an effect by increasing depression, and mindfulness by relieving depression. In the moderated multiple regression analysis, mindfulness had a moderating effect on the impact of stress on depression only in low-stress groups, showing that the interaction of stress with mindfulness was significantly negative (β = −0.11, t = −2.52, p = 0.012) and the inclusion of this interaction significantly increased the explanatory power for depression variation (F change 6.36, p = 0.012) in the full model. In conclusion, we suggest considering stress levels in the development of mindfulness-based intervention strategies to effectively manage the depression of university students.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7560191/