Mindfulness is Associated with Better Mental Health in Young Adults

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Mental Health in Young Adults

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness is recommended as a treatment for people with mental ill-health as well as those who want to improve their mental health and wellbeing.” – Mental Health Foundation

 

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. Although awareness of the past and future are important, focus on the present moment generally leads to greater psychological health and well-being. Mindfulness appears to improve the individual’s ability to regulate emotions. It is reasonable to assume that this improvement in emotion regulation may be responsible for the beneficial effects of mindfulness on mental health. There is a need to better understand how mindfulness and emotion regulation produce these benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “Dispositional mindfulness and mental health in Chinese emerging adults: A multilevel model with emotion dysregulation as a mediator.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7676716/ ) Cheung and colleagues recruited from a university healthy young adults aged 18 to 29 years. They completed measures at baseline and 3 and 6 months later of mindfulness, emotion regulation, depression, anxiety, and well-being. These data were then subjected to regression analysis and multilevel mediation analysis.

 

They found that at all time points the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of depression, and anxiety, and the higher the levels of emotion regulation, and subjective well-being. They also found that the higher the levels of emotion regulation the lower the levels of depression, and anxiety, and the higher the levels of subjective well-being.

 

The mediation analysis suggested that mindfulness was associated with improved anxiety, depression, and well-being directly and also indirectly through emotion regulation, such that high mindfulness was associated with high emotion regulation which was, in turn, associated with lower anxiety and depression and higher well-being. Over the 3 measurements mental health of the participants appeared to decrease with higher levels of anxiety and depression and lower levels of well-being, perhaps as the stress of the academic year increased. But the relationships of these variables with mindfulness and emotion regulation remained intact over the 3 time periods.

 

These results are correlational and as such conclusions regarding causation cannot be made. But previous research has shown causal connections between mindfulness and emotion regulation, depression, anxiety, and well-being. So, the present results likely also reflect causal influences of mindfulness. The results suggest that mindfulness has direct beneficial effects on mental health and also indirect effects by improving the regulation of emotions. Emotion regulation involves the ability to fully experience emotions but also being able to control response to the emotions. This appears to be strengthened by mindfulness and is an important route by which mindfulness produces better mental health.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with better mental health in young adults.

 

Young adulthood is an incredibly important time marked by major changes, big life decisions and new pressures. Without proper support and the right skills in place, many young adults can suffer from depression and feelings of anxiety that can manifest as avoidance, substance use and self-harm. Mindfulness techniques help clients attend to their thoughts and feelings non-judgmentally and moment-to-moment. This helps them connect with their inner selves, engage more fully in their present life activities and develop better coping mechanisms for life’s stressors.” – The Dorm

 

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

 

Cheung, R., Ke, Z., & Ng, M. (2020). Dispositional mindfulness and mental health in Chinese emerging adults: A multilevel model with emotion dysregulation as a mediator. PloS one, 15(11), e0239575. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0239575

 

Abstract

Using a multilevel model, this study examined emotion dysregulation as a mediator between dispositional mindfulness and mental health among Chinese emerging adults. Participants were 191 Chinese emerging adults (female = 172) between 18 and 27 years old (M = 21.06 years, SD = 2.01 years), who completed a questionnaire that assessed their dispositional mindfulness, emotion dysregulation, and mental health outcomes for three times over 12 months, with a three-month lag between each time point. Within-person analysis revealed that emotion dysregulation mediated between dispositional mindfulness and mental health outcomes, including subjective well-being and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Time was positively associated with emotion dysregulation and negatively associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Between-person analysis revealed that emotion dysregulation negatively mediated between dispositional mindfulness and symptoms of depression and anxiety, but not subjective well-being. These findings call attention to within-person versus between-person effects of emotion dysregulation as a mediator between dispositional mindfulness and psychological outcomes, particularly of symptoms of depression and anxiety. Attesting to the relations established in western societies, the relations are also applicable to emerging adults in the Chinese context. Evidence was thus advanced to inform translational research efforts that promote mindfulness and emotion regulation as assets of mental health.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7676716/

Improve Mental Health and Blood Biomarker Levels with Meditation and Yoga

Improve Mental Health and Blood Biomarker Levels with Meditation and Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The main purpose of meditation is to access, recognize and enhance the positive qualities of mind. The more we can do this, the less we need to rely on external situations for our happiness and the more we can rely on the natural, positive qualities of mind: love, contentment, well-being and peace.” – Trinlay Rinpoche

 

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

 

It is not known exactly how mindfulness training produces these benefits. It is possible that one mechanism is by altering blood bourn hormonal levels. In today’s Research News article “Inner Engineering Practices and Advanced 4-day Isha Yoga Retreat Are Associated with Cannabimimetic Effects with Increased Endocannabinoids and Short-Term and Sustained Improvement in Mental Health: A Prospective Observational Study of Meditators.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7293737/ ) Sadhasivam and colleagues recruited healthy adults and had them attend a 4-day intensive training in yoga and meditation. Before and after the training and 1 month later they were measured for mindfulness, happiness, anxiety, depression, and psychological well-being. They also drew blood before and after training and assayed it for the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and the biomarkers of Endocannabinoids, (anandamide, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), 1-arachidonoylglycerol (1-AG), docosatetraenoylethanolamide (DEA), and oleoylethanolamide (OLA)).

 

They found that after the training there were significant decreases in anxiety and depression and significant increases in mindfulness, happiness, and psychological well-being. These changes were maintained at the 1-month follow-up. There were also significant increases in all of the blood biomarkers of Endocannabinoids and also brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

 

It should be kept in mind that this was a pilot study that did not have a control, comparison, condition. So, the results might have been due to a number of confounding factors rather than the training itself. But previous controlled research has convincingly demonstrated that mindfulness training increases happiness, and psychological well-being and decreases anxiety and depression. So, these changes were likely due to the training.

 

There were also novel findings in the present study that Endocannabinoids and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) were significantly increased by the training. These provide objective measures of the subjective reports of psychological improvements. Endocannabinoids in the blood are associated with positive mood states. BDNF is a neurotrophic factor that is thought to signal neuroplastic changes in the nervous system. Mindfulness training has been previously shown to produce neuroplastic changes in the brain. So, the increases in these biomarkers indicate that the training not only improves the psychological health of the participants but also alters the brain, perhaps making the improvements longer lasting. This suggests a potential mechanism for the ability of meditation and yoga to improve mood, by increasing hormones that improve mood.

 

So, improve mental health and blood biomarker levels with meditation and yoga.

 

The more you practice invoking states of well-being, the more available they are. Use the following practice to teach your mind and body to experience joy in the moment. As you invite happiness into your life in this way, you will have more access to a joyful life.” – Yoga Journal

 

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

 

Sadhasivam, S., Alankar, S., Maturi, R., Vishnubhotla, R. V., Mudigonda, M., Pawale, D., Narayanan, S., Hariri, S., Ram, C., Chang, T., Renschler, J., Eckert, G., & Subramaniam, B. (2020). Inner Engineering Practices and Advanced 4-day Isha Yoga Retreat Are Associated with Cannabimimetic Effects with Increased Endocannabinoids and Short-Term and Sustained Improvement in Mental Health: A Prospective Observational Study of Meditators. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2020, 8438272. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/8438272

 

Abstract

Background

Anxiety and depression are common in the modern world, and there is growing demand for alternative therapies such as meditation. Meditation can decrease perceived stress and increase general well-being, although the physiological mechanism is not well-characterized. Endocannabinoids (eCBs), lipid mediators associated with enhanced mood and reduced anxiety/depression, have not been previously studied as biomarkers of meditation effects. Our aim was to assess biomarkers (eCBs and brain-derived neurotrophic factor [BDNF]) and psychological parameters after a meditation retreat.

Methods

This was an observational pilot study of adults before and after the 4-day Isha Yoga Bhava Spandana Program retreat. Participants completed online surveys (before and after retreat, and 1 month later) to assess anxiety, depression, focus, well-being, and happiness through validated psychological scales. Voluntary blood sampling for biomarker studies was done before and within a day after the retreat. The biomarkers anandamide, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), 1-arachidonoylglycerol (1-AG), docosatetraenoylethanolamide (DEA), oleoylethanolamide (OLA), and BDNF were evaluated. Primary outcomes were changes in psychological scales, as well as changes in eCBs and BDNF.

Results

Depression and anxiety scores decreased while focus, happiness, and positive well-being scores increased immediately after retreat from their baseline values (P < 0.001). All improvements were sustained 1 month after BSP. All major eCBs including anandamide, 2-AG, 1-AG, DEA, and BDNF increased after meditation by > 70% (P < 0.001). Increases of ≥20% in anandamide, 2-AG, 1-AG, and total AG levels after meditation from the baseline had weak correlations with changes in happiness and well-being.

Conclusions

A short meditation experience improved focus, happiness, and positive well-being and reduced depression and anxiety in participants for at least 1 month. Participants had increased blood eCBs and BDNF, suggesting a role for these biomarkers in the underlying mechanism of meditation. Meditation is a simple, organic, and effective way to improve well-being and reduce depression and anxiety.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7293737/

 

Spirituality is Related to Healthy Behaviors and Psychological Well-Being

Spirituality is Related to Healthy Behaviors and Psychological Well-Being

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Positive beliefs, comfort, and strength gained from religion, meditation, and prayer can contribute to well being. It may even promote healing. Improving your spiritual health may not cure an illness, but it may help you feel better. It also may prevent some health problems and help you cope better with illness, stress, or death.” – Robert Rich Jr.

 

Religion and spirituality have been promulgated as solutions to the challenges of life both in a transcendent sense and in a practical sense. What evidence is there that these claims are in fact true? The transcendent claims are untestable with the scientific method. But the practical claims are amenable to scientific analysis. 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. But there is still a need to investigate the relationships of spirituality with health-related behaviors and psychological well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Relationship Between Spirituality, Health-Related Behavior, and Psychological Well-Being.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7457021/ ) Bożek and colleagues recruited college students and had them complete measures of psychological well-being, spirituality, and health-related behaviors. The data were then subjected to a path analysis.

 

The analysis revealed that both spirituality and health-related behaviors were significantly positively directly related to psychological well-being, such that the higher the levels of each the higher the levels of well-being. But, in addition, spirituality indirectly affected psychological well-being by being positively related to health behaviors which, in turn, were positively related to well-being. They also found that these relationships were stronger in students who studied the psychosocial dimension of health and the human mind and spirit.

 

This study was correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. This is inevitable as it is nearly impossible to directly manipulate spirituality. But the results demonstrate that being high in spirituality is associated with psychological well-being in college students. In addition, spirituality is also clearly associated with engaging in behaviors that promote good health and these behaviors appear to also be associated with higher levels of psychological well-being. All of this suggests that spiritual students have better health and are happier.

 

So, spirituality is related to healthy behaviors and psychological well-being.

 

Many of the behaviors associated with wellness are key components of a healthy spiritual life. Examples include volunteerism, social responsibility, optimism, contributing to society, connectedness with others, feeling of belonging/being part of a group, and love of self/reason to care for self.” – Lauren Artess

 

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

 

Bożek, A., Nowak, P. F., & Blukacz, M. (2020). The Relationship Between Spirituality, Health-Related Behavior, and Psychological Well-Being. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 1997. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01997

 

Abstract

Studies suggest a positive association of spirituality and health behaviors with well-being (especially subjective well-being), but still the precise character of such relationships between all these constructs remains unknown. The present study aims to explore the relations between spirituality, health-related behaviors, and psychological well-being in the context of acquired education. A questionnaire survey was conducted among 595 students from six different universities, whose study programs either focused on the human body or the human mind and spirit. Path analysis and linear regression were used to model the relationship between the examined constructs. The results show that both spirituality and health-related behaviors are positively related to psychological well-being, and that the relationship with spirituality is also mediated by health-related behaviors. Only spirituality is associated with the type of acquired education, especially in the group of students whose studies focus on the human mind and spirit. Moreover, spirituality in this group seems to display a stronger relationship with psychological well-being. These findings may contribute to the better understanding of some significant determinants of psychological well-being. They carry important implications for the faculty members responsible for curriculum preparation to account for teaching contents related to the conduct of a healthy lifestyle and to spiritual development.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7457021/

 

Improve Well-Being with Mandala Drawing

Improve Well-Being with Mandala Drawing

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mandala means “sacred circle” in Sanskrit, which is a traditional concept employed in meditation and a ritual symbol that represents the universe in Hinduism and Buddism. Today, Mandala has evolved into a powerful art therapy exercise that allows the creator to enjoy some peace and quiet by simply crafting colourful geometric patterns within a circular shape. “ – Helen Yu

 

Mindfulness practices have been shown to have a large number of beneficial effects on the psychological, emotional, and physical health of the individual and is helpful in the treatment of mental and physical illness. They have also been shown to effect a large number of physiological and psychological processes, including emotion regulationattentionsensory awareness, decentering, and reappraisal. Mindfulness practices have been shown to be particularly effective in reducing anxiety.

 

Recently, adult coloring books have become popular as a mindfulness practice. It is thought that immersion in the creative yet structured and safe process of coloring will increase mindfulness and in turn produce the benefits of mindfulness. Mandala drawing is an ancient mindfulness practice. But the effects of mandala drawing on the well-being of participants has not been adequately tested scientifically.

 

In today’s Research News article “Cooperative and Individual Mandala Drawing Have Different Effects on Mindfulness, Spirituality, and Subjective Well-Being.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.564430/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1456740_69_Psycho_20201013_arts_A ) Liu and colleagues recruited healthy college students and randomly assigned them to mandala drawing either alone (individual) or in groups of 4 (cooperative). They met for 5 weekly, 90-minute sessions in which they received training and drew mandalas in provided blank circles. They were measured before and after practice for mindfulness, spirituality, subjective well-being, satisfaction with life, and positive and negative emotions.

 

They found that neither group had significant increases in mindfulness while both groups had significant increases in spirituality with the cooperative group showing significantly larger increases. They also found that the cooperative condition produced a significant increase in positive emotions and subjective well-being while the individual condition did not. Both groups had significant decreases in negative emotions. They also found that the higher the levels of positive emotions, the higher the levels of mindfulness, spirituality, satisfaction with life, and subjective well-being.

 

These results are interesting and demonstrate that mandala drawing is beneficial for the psychological health and spirituality of participants. It does not appear that mindfulness mediates these effects as there was no increase in mindfulness produced by either individual or cooperative mandala drawing.

 

The results show that mandala drawing in a cooperative, group, format produces superior benefits to those produced by individual mandala drawing, including more positive emotions and greater subjective well-being. Since participating in a group can be more fun it would be expected that positive emotions would increase further and the group socialization would reduce loneliness and produce greater subjective well-being. So, it would appear that mandala drawing is beneficial by itself but adding a social component increases the benefits.

 

So, improve well-being with mandala drawing.

 

Each person’s life is like a mandala – a vast limitless circle. We stand in the centre of our own circle, and everything we see, hear and think forms the mandala of our life… everything that shows up in your mandala is a vehicle for your awakening.” ―Pema Chödrön

 

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 C, Chen H, Liu C-Y, Lin R-T and Chiou W-K (2020) Cooperative and Individual Mandala Drawing Have Different Effects on Mindfulness, Spirituality, and Subjective Well-Being. Front. Psychol. 11:564430. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.564430

 

Mandala drawing was first practiced by Tibetan buddhists and then developed by Carl Gustav Jung, who felt certain that mandala drawing has the function of integrating psychological division, enhancing psychological harmony, and preserving personality integrity. Previous studies on mandala drawing have mainly focused on alleviating people’s negative emotions, such as anxiety and depression. Therefore, this study explored the effect and mechanism of mandala drawing on the improvement of subjective well-being (SWB), mindfulness, and spirituality from positive psychology’s viewpoint and compared the different effects of cooperative mandala drawing (CMD) and individual mandala drawing (IMD) on mindfulness, spirituality, and SWB. A total of 76 students were recruited from Chang Gung University, and the aforementioned three main variables were measured before and after the coloring experiment. The results indicated that both CMD and IMD significantly enhanced the subjects’ spirituality. Compared with IMD, CMD has a more significant improvement and promotion effect on SWB of subjects by affecting PA, while IMD had no significant effect on PA, and the enhancement effect of SWB was weaker than that of CMD. Mindfulness, spirituality, and SWB all positively correlated with each other. This study highlights the mechanism of mandala drawing and the theoretical understanding of the relationship between mindfulness and SWB. Mandala drawing especially CMD has a positive effect on spirituality and SWB, which may provide individuals with a simple and easy method to improve their happiness.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.564430/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1456740_69_Psycho_20201013_arts_A

 

Reduce Performance Anxiety in Student Vocalists with Mindfulness

Reduce Performance Anxiety in Student Vocalists with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness can really help you to stop worrying. While you can’t remove each and every stressor from your daily life, there are definitely steps you can try to feel more at ease with your performances.” – Petra Raspel

 

It is a common human phenomenon that being in a social situation can be stressful and anxiety producing. This includes the anxiety that occurs with artistic performance. Most people can deal with the anxiety and can become quite comfortable. But many do not cope well and the anxiety is overwhelming, interfering with the ability to perform. Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. There are a number of psychological therapies for anxiety. But, about 45% of the patients treated do not respond to the therapy. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders.

 

A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes. It is not known whether ACT may be effective in reducing artistic performance anxiety.

 

In today’s Research News article “Examining a Group Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Intervention for Music Performance Anxiety in Student Vocalists.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7272702/ ) Clarke and colleagues recruited student vocalists who demonstrated performance anxiety and provided them with a six session group program of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Before and after ACT and 3 months later they were measured for music performance anxiety psychological flexibility, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and well-being.

 

They found that after therapy there were significant reductions in music performance anxiety and psychological inflexibility and significant increases in psychological flexibility and well-being that were maintained 3 months later. Hence, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) produced a significant improvement in the psychological well-being of student vocalists who suffered from music performance anxiety. Although not measured, these results would suggest that their vocal performances would improve.

 

This was a small pilot study without a control, comparison, condition. So, great caution must be exercised in interpreting the results. The study though makes a convincing case that a larger randomized control trial should be conducted. Mindfulness training has been shown in prior research to reduce anxiety in clinical and non-clinical populations. So, the reductions in music performance anxiety observed in the present study were not surprising and probably due to the mindfulness training delivered in ACT.

 

So, reduce performance anxiety in student vocalists with mindfulness.

 

Qualitative results showed benefits of daily mindfulness exercises on breathing, micro-muscular awareness, vocal tone, text communication and problem solving.”Petra Raspel

 

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

 

Clarke, L. K., Osborne, M. S., & Baranoff, J. A. (2020). Examining a Group Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Intervention for Music Performance Anxiety in Student Vocalists. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 1127. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01127

 

Abstract

Music performance anxiety (MPA) is a distressing and persistent anxious apprehension related to musical performance. The experience of MPA forces many musicians to give up performing or develop maladaptive coping mechanisms (e.g., avoidance or substance use), which can impact their career and wellbeing. High levels of MPA in students and vocalists are reported in the literature. Vocalists present a unique challenge for clinicians in that vocal and breathing mechanisms, required for performance, are negatively impacted when anxious. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) has demonstrated efficacy for the treatment of a range of psychological problems including social anxiety disorder (of which MPA may be indicated as a subtype). This study sought to investigate whether group-based ACT may be a feasible and effective intervention for MPA in Australian student vocalists and aimed to design an intervention that could be adopted by music education providers. Potential participants (N = 31) completed an online survey including demographic questions and outcome measures. Six vocal students (four females; two males; aged M = 20.33 years) with elevated MPA scores participated in the ACT for MPA group program and 3-month follow-up. Group sessions were 2 h each week for six consecutive weeks. Participants were followed up 3 months post-intervention via online survey. There was a significant increase in psychological flexibility and significant decreases in MPA and psychological inflexibility. Gains were maintained at 3-month follow-up. The current study offers preliminary evidence for the feasibility and effectiveness of a group-based ACT protocol for musicians with performance anxiety which may be incorporated into tertiary performance training curricula.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7272702/

 

Improve Psychological Well-Being, Sleep, and Performance in College Athletes with Mindfulness

Improve Psychological Well-Being, Sleep, and Performance in College Athletes with Mindfulness.

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

How much time do you spend training your body, getting to peak performance?  With mindfulness training you can now train your mind. Learn how to focus more effectively, worry less, be more present and increase your ability to respond and react quickly.” – Blair Bowker

 

Athletic performance requires the harmony of mind and body. Excellence is in part physical and in part psychological. That is why an entire profession of Sports Psychology has developed. “In sport psychology, competitive athletes are taught psychological strategies to better cope with a number of demanding challenges related to psychological functioning.” They use a number of techniques to enhance performance including mindfulness training. It has been shown to improve attention and concentration and emotion regulation and reduces anxiety and worry and rumination, and the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, mindfulness training has been employed by athletes and even by entire teams to enhance their performance.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Benefits Psychological Well-Being, Sleep Quality, and Athletic Performance in Female Collegiate Rowers.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.572980/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1437459_69_Psycho_20200922_arts_A ) Jones and colleagues recruited women members of a college rowing team and randomly assigned them to a no-treatment control condition or to receive 8 weekly 75 minutes group sessions of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). This training includes meditation, body scan, yoga, and discussion with daily home practice. They were measured before and after training for athletic coping skills, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, mindfulness, sleepiness, sleep quality, activity during sleep, rumination, and psychological well-being. They were also measured before the treatment and 6 weeks into the 8-week program for rowing performance.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control group, after Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training there were significant increases in mindfulness, psychological well-being, sleep quality, activity during sleep, athletic coping skills, and rowing performance and significant decreases in daytime sleepiness. In addition, they report that the greater the increase in mindfulness the greater the increase in psychological well-being, sleep quality, and athletic coping skills and the greater the decrease in daytime sleepiness.

 

These are interesting results suggesting that mindfulness training improves the psychological well-being and athletic performance in athletes. But the comparison to a no-treatment condition leaves open alternative interpretations of participant expectancy effects, experimenter bias, attentional effects, etc. In addition, only female athletes were included in the study. Future research should include male athletes and employ an active control comparison condition such as group discussions of college life without mindfulness training.

 

The results from  previous studies have demonstrated that mindfulness training improves the psychological well-being and athletic performance in athletes. So, it is likely that the improvements seen in the present study were also due to the mindfulness training. In addition, the fact that in the group that received Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training that the amount of increase in mindfulness was associated with the degree of improvement in the psychological well-being and athletic performance, suggests that mindfulness was the key determinant of the improvements. So, it would appear likely that increasing mindfulness is of great benefit to athletes.

 

So, improve psychological well-being, sleep, and performance in college athletes with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness meditation for athletes can help them control negative thoughts and sports anxiety which allows them to focus on their skills in the present moment and perform better.’ – Ertheo

 

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

 

Jones BJ, Kaur S, Miller M and Spencer RMC (2020) Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Benefits Psychological Well-Being, Sleep Quality, and Athletic Performance in Female Collegiate Rowers. Front. Psychol. 11:572980. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.572980

 

Factors such as psychological well-being, sleep quality, and athletic coping skills can influence athletic performance. Mindfulness-based interventions, including mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), have been shown to benefit these factors, suggesting they may, at least indirectly, benefit athletic performance. Moreover, while mindfulness training has been linked to better accuracy in some high-precision sports, whether it can improve non-precision elements of athletic performance is unclear. The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of MBSR on psychological well-being, sleep, athletic coping skills, and rowing performance in collegiate rowers in a controlled experimental design. Members of a Division I NCAA Women’s Rowing team completed either an 8-week MBSR course along with their regular athletic training program (Intervention group) or the athletic training program alone (Control group). Measurements of interest were taken at baseline and again either during or shortly following the intervention. In contrast to the Control group, the Intervention group showed improvements in psychological well-being, subjective and objective sleep quality, athletic coping skills, and rowing performance as measured by a 6,000-m ergometer test. Improvements in athletic coping skills, psychological well-being, and subjective sleep quality were all correlated with increases in mindfulness in the Intervention group. These results suggest that mindfulness training may benefit non-precision aspects of athletic performance. Incorporating mindfulness training into athletic training programs may benefit quality of life and performance in student athletes.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.572980/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1437459_69_Psycho_20200922_arts_A

 

Improve Physiological Adaptation to High Altitude with Yoga and Meditation

Improve Physiological Adaptation to High Altitude with Yoga and Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Pranayama techniques allow for maximizing your lung capacity, which becomes critical at high altitudes.” – D.. M. Kumar

 

Breathing is essential for life and generally occurs automatically. It’s easy to take for granted as it’s been there our entire lives. Nevertheless, we become more aware of it when it varies with circumstances, such as when we exercise, in emotional states, especially fear and anxiety, and at high altitude. Breathing exercises are common in yoga practices and have been found to have a number of beneficial effects. High altitude taxes the physiology and particularly the respiratory system. Since yoga practice can improve respiratory function, it would be expected that yoga practice would improve the physiological adaptations needed to function at high altitude.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of mindfulness meditation protocol in subjects with various psychometric characteristics at high altitude.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7218243/) Bhanushali and colleagues recruited adults with no prior Kriya Yoga experience and provided them with an intensive 4-day 15 hours per day practice of Kriya Yoga at high altitude (11,500 ft.). The practice consisted of a combination of meditation and yoga. They were measured before and after training for body size, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, cholesterol, triglycerides, psychometric constitution (prakriti), attention, memory, verbal fluency, executive functioning, and information processing speed, anxiety, mental well-being, and happiness.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline, after the Kriya Yoga practice there were significant increases in oxygen saturation, blood glucose, mental well-being and happiness and significant decreases in anxiety, blood triglycerides and very low-density lipoprotein. Hence, after training there were improvements in physical and psychological well-being.

 

These results must be interpreted cautiously as there wasn’t a control comparison condition. So, the results could be due to acclimatization over the 4 days at high altitude and not to the Kriya Yoga practice. Also, without a control condition, participant expectancy effects (placebo), experimenter bias, attentional effects etc. may be responsible for the results. In addition, there was no comparison to other exercises. So, the effects may be due to exercise and not specifically to Kriya Yoga.

 

Taking this into consideration, the results demonstrate that intensive yoga practice can be conducted at high altitude and shows potential for improving physical and psychological acclimatization to high altitude.

 

So, improve physiological adaptation to high altitude with yoga and meditation.

 

BREATHE — the universal mantra of yoga. This can be a bit harder than normal at thousands feet above sea level. There’s 20 percent less oxygen (or more!) in the air at these elevations. You may experience headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, and sleep disturbance (and sleep is oh-so-important). If you’re feeling like you’re suffering from a bad hangover or the flu, chances are your body is struggling to adapt to the change in altitude.”.- Vicki Kahn

 

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

 

Bhanushali, D., Tyagi, R., Limaye Rishi Nityapragya, N., & Anand, A. (2020). Effect of mindfulness meditation protocol in subjects with various psychometric characteristics at high altitude. Brain and behavior, 10(5), e01604. https://doi.org/10.1002/brb3.1604

 

Abstract

Introduction

Incidence of high altitude‐related sickness is increasing due to more number of people visiting the areas of high altitude which may result in life‐threatening conditions including acute mountain sickness (AMS), high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), high altitude cerebral edema (HACE), and High‐altitude pulmonary hypertension (HAPH). We hypothesized that an advanced yoga regimen may be beneficial in dealing with the physiology of acclimatization.

Methods

Anthropometric, Biochemical, and Psychological assessments were carried out in 48 participants before and after the advance meditation program (AMP) in the experimental group. Individuals with an age range of 20–65 years with no comorbidities were included in the study. Participants were exposed to AMP for 4 days. All assessments were carried out at the baseline and after the course. Prakriti was constituted for all participants using a standard questionnaire. The study was carried out after obtaining the written informed consent as per the guidelines outlined by the Institute Ethics Committee.

Results

Po2 and glucose levels were found significantly reduced along with changes in the Happiness index, anxiety, and mental well‐being. However, participants with lowered Po2, after 4 days of mindfulness intervention, showed a positive outcome measured by the established scales of anxiety, happiness, and information processing. Psychometric or Prakriti wise analysis revealed that subject with “Pitta” constitution exposed to high altitude and advance meditation showed changes in more parameters than “Vatta” or “Kapha” Constitution.

Conclusions

Advance meditation in the high altitude zone confers biochemical and neuro‐cognitive benefits. Molecular studies may require to understand the role of hypoxic condition in improving the disease state.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7218243/

 

Increase Well-Being and Spirituality with Loving Kindness Meditation

Increase Well-Being and Spirituality with Loving Kindness Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Loving-kindness refers to a state of unconditional kindness and compassion for all beings.  . . Some studies suggest you can boost your empathy and feelings of connection and reduce your implicit bias, anger, depression and anxiety.” – Heart.org

 

Meditation training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. As a result, meditation training has been called the third wave of therapies. One problem with understanding meditation effects is that there are, a wide variety of meditation techniques and it is not known which work best for improving different conditions. One understudied meditation technique is Loving Kindness Meditation. It is designed to develop kindness and compassion to oneself and others. The individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being. Although Loving Kindness Meditation has been practiced for centuries, it has received very little scientific research attention.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Loving-Kindness Meditation on Flight Attendants’ Spirituality, Mindfulness and Subjective Well-Being.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7349275/) Liu and colleagues recruited flight attendants who were 21-40 years old, physically and psychologically healthy, and 78% female and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive 5 90-minute sessions of  Loving Kindness Meditation training over 8 weeks. They were also encouraged to practice at home and at work. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness, spirituality including meaning, trust, acceptance, caring for others, connection with nature, transcendence, and spiritual activity, and subjective well-being which is a composite of scores on satisfaction with life, and positive and negative emotions.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, the Loving Kindness Meditation produced a significantly higher level of spirituality and a large (30%) significant increase in subjective well-being. Hence, the Loving Kindness Meditation improves with psychological and spiritual well-being of the practitioners. It is interesting that this happened in young and psychologically healthy individuals. They would be expected to be relatively high in subjective well-being to start with. So, producing a further large increase is remarkable.

 

So, increase well-being and spirituality with Loving Kindness Meditation.

 

“To send loving-kindness does not mean that we approve or condone all actions, it means that we can see clearly actions that are incorrect or unskillful and still not lose the connection.” – Sharon Salzberg

 

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, C., Chen, H., Liu, C. Y., Lin, R. T., & Chiou, W. K. (2020). The Effect of Loving-Kindness Meditation on Flight Attendants’ Spirituality, Mindfulness and Subjective Well-Being. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 8(2), 174. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare8020174

 

Abstract

Background: This study investigated: (1) the effects of the loving-kindness meditation (LKM) on mindfulness, subjective well-being (SWB), and spirituality and (2) the relationships between mindfulness, spirituality, and SWB. Methods: 98 flight attendants from Xiamen Airlines in China were recruited and randomly assigned to the LKM training group (n = 49) or the waiting control group (n = 49). The LKM training group underwent an 8-week LKM training intervention, and the control group did not undergo intervention. The three main variables (SWB, mindfulness, and spirituality) were measured both before (pre-test) and after (post-test) the LKM training intervention. Results: In the experimental group, SWB and spirituality increased significantly. In the control group, no significant differences were observed for the three variables between the pre-test and post-test. Conclusions: Our results indicated that LKM may help to improve SWB and spirituality. However, the mechanisms which underlie the effects of the LKM on mindfulness, spirituality, SWB, and other psychological constructs require further elucidation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7349275/

 

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 Fertility with Mindfulness

 

Improve Fertility with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

So, improve fertility with mindfulness.

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Abstract

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

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