School based yoga and mindfulness can help children better manage stress and anxiety

The introduction of a mindfulness and yoga programme with child-friendly poses in an US public school yielded improvement in emotional and psychosocial quality of life for the pupils who participated in this intervention. Researchers worked with a school New Orleans to add mindfulness and yoga to the school’s programming for students needing additional support.  Pupils who were screened for symptoms of anxiety previously were randomly assigned to two groups. The school children participated in the small group activities at the beginning of the school day, these sessions included breathing exercises, guided relaxation and several traditional yoga poses. A control group (n= 32 students) received care as usual, which included counselling and other activities led by a school social worker.  Researchers evaluated each group’s health related quality of life before and after the intervention, using two widely recognized research tools, this included one specifically designed for children, the Paediatric Quality of Life Inventory  (via Science Daily).

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Principal author of the study  Alessandra Bazzano said : “The intervention improved psychosocial and emotional quality of life scores for students, as compared to their peers who received standard care.”

The full news release from Science Daily can be read here

Abstract

Objective: To assess the impact of a yoga curriculum in an elementary school on student quality of life, and to assess teacher and staff perception of potential barriers to, and benefits of, introducing yoga and mindfulness into the classroom.

Methods: A randomized controlled trial was utilized to assess the impact of a brief intervention on third-grade students who screened positive for symptoms of anxiety. Students were randomized to an intervention group of 20 students receiving small-group yoga/mindfulness activities for 8 weeks between October 2016 and February 2017, and a control group of 32 students receiving care as usual. The Brief Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale-Peabody Treatment Progress Battery and the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL) served as outcomes. Teachers were invited to participate in two professional development sessions about introducing yoga and mindfulness into the classroom, and completed a survey following each of the sessions.

Results: In generalized estimating equation models adjusted for time, the yoga-based intervention was associated with a 14.17 unit increase in student emotional PedsQL (p-value 0.001) and a 7.43 unit increase in psychosocial PedsQL (p-value 0.01). Results were not attenuated by adjustment. Teachers and staff reported using yoga more frequently in the classroom following the second of two professional development sessions (p-value less than 0.05). Perceived barriers to introducing yoga to the classroom were similar at two data collection time points, while perceived benefits remained high.

Conclusion:
The intervention was associated with a significant improvement in emotional and psychosocial quality of life in the intervention group when compared to the control group, suggesting that yoga/mindfulness interventions may improve symptoms of anxiety among students. Yoga/mindfulness activities may facilitate stress management among elementary school students and may be added as a complement to social and emotional learning activities.

The paper is published in  Psychology Research and Behavior Management where it can be downloaded

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Free mindfulness programme launches

A new e-Learning programme from MindEd and Health Education England has been launched to support health professionals better understand mindfulness. It can be accessed from the e-Learning for Healthcare website and is free to registered users.

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Image source: e-lfh.org.uk

The programme is an introduction to mindfulness and aims to

  • Define mindfulness
  • Identify the key components of mindfulness
  • Describe the evidence base for mindfulness
  • Evaluate whether mindfulness may be an appropriate approach for someone
  • List the sources of further information and where to signpost people to for more resources and support

Further details about the programme can be read here 

New study looks at mindfulness in the workplace, finds workload detrimental to its practice

Ute R. Hulsheger, U.R., Walkowiak, A. & Thommes, M. S., |  2018  |

How can mindfulness be promoted? Workload and recovery experiences as antecedents of daily fluctuations in mindfulness |  Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology | ePub |  DOI:10.1111/joop.12206

A new study focuses on mindfulness in the workplace. Whereas existing research has conisdered mindfulness in relation to trait mindfulness, the researchers involved in this study looked at state mindfulness, which they define as being how daily distractions detract from an individual’s ability to be mindful.  Their findings show a correlation between workload being negatively related to mindfulness, compared to sleep quality which was positively associated with mindfulness. Whereas poor sleep impacts on the experience of mindfulness the next day.

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For the researchers, the study has a number of implications for organisations who wish to promote mindfulness, suggesting that mindfulness programmes are insufficient on their own. They suggest that workplaces can support mindfulness practices by helping staff keep their workload manageable.
The full abstract is available here 

The full article can be read here from Wiley online

Dispositional mindfulness can enhance patient resilence

Tomlinson, E. R., Yousaf, O., Vittersø, A. D., & Jones, L.  |2018 |Dispositional mindfulness and psychological health: a systematic review | Mindfulness | P. 1-21 |Doi:
 
Although mindfulness has gained more prominence in recent times as interest in it as a practice has steadily grown, systematic reviews in this area are scarce. As such the researchers of this study systematically reviewed the literature on dispositional mindfulness (DM) and psychological non-interventional, quantitative papers in English up to June 2016.  They folllowed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. After conducting a literature search on PSYCinfo, PUBmed, Medline and Embase they found 93 papers that met the inclusion criteria.

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From this review three major themes emerged:

  1. DM appears to be inversely related to psychopathological symptoms such as depressive symptoms;
  2. DM is associated with adaptive strategies and less rumination;
  3. It is also associated with more sophisticated emotional processing and regulation.
 For the researchers  DM can enhance patient resilience and act as a buffer against the development of negative thinking patterns that predict psychological ill health. They surmise that while the research in this area has consistently shown a positive relationship between DM and psychological health.  However, as a result of limitations in  this field, for instance the use of inconsistent terminology and a research sample of
predominantly white males, such barriers should be overcome in future research in order to advance what is known in this area.
The full article is available through Springer 

Mindfulness doesn’t have to be time-consuming according to new research findings

A Canadian study published in the Journal of Further and Higher Education shows that undergraduates who participated in a three-minute breathing activity at the start of classes reported feeling less distracted and more positive. The researchers have argued that their findings demonstrate that mindfulness training can benefit learners without it being laborious (via Times Higher Education).

university-105709_1920The latest research delivered the intervention to 59 third-year undergraduate students on a child psychopathology course over the duration of a semester. A control group  of 29 similar students on a developmental disabilities module. Based on the results of an end-of-term survey, students in the intervention group said that they were significantly less likely to be distracted in class than those in the control group. They were also more likely to report positive emotions such as enthusiasm.

Abstract
Mindfulness practices have become a common component of daily life in many settings and may serve to bolster resiliency, particularly among university students. This study expanded on our previous work to compare the effects of receiving or not receiving a brief daily mindfulness-based practice in large-scale university courses. Data were collected from 88 participants enrolled in two third-year psychology courses at a university in Southwestern Ontario, Canada at the beginning and the end of the semester. The scripted ‘Three-Minute Breathing Space’ mindfulness intervention took less than 5 minutes of class time each day in one course, while the course not receiving the intervention served as a control group. By the end of the semester, the intervention group reported experiencing greater enhancements in positive emotionality, and fewer episodes of mind wandering and distractibility than those in the control group. In contrast, there was no detectable effect on mindfulness or negative emotionality in either group. Those receiving the intervention also reported enjoying the practice, and more than half had used the practice outside the course. Results of this study, and others, suggest that brief mindfulness practices taught in university courses may play a role in promoting mental wellness among students. Future work should consider how this brief practice may be applied more broadly and what other resources might be made available to students.

The full piece Mindfulness exercises ‘help students stay focused in class’ can be read at Times Higher Education 
Full reference:

Miller, C. J.,  Borsatto, J., & Al-Salom, P. | 2018|   Testing a quick mindfulness intervention in the university classroom| Journal of Further and Higher Education|ePub|  https://doi.org/10.1080/0309877X.2017.1409345

The article is available to Rotherham NHS staff to request here 

 

The benefits of mindfulness for computer science students

A group of computer science students from the University of Seville who participated in mindfulness sessions outperformed peers who had not participated. (via Science Daily)

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In fact, there have been previous neurological studies that show that meditation stimulates activity in certain areas of the brain connected to different aspects of mental activity, such as compassion, attention and concentration. In the study, two variables were evaluated: effectiveness (how well the students performed a task) and efficiency (how quickly they did the correct part).

To be able to see how the students’ effectiveness and efficiency were progressing with this activity, their performance was compared with the control group that were not taking part in the mindfulness sessions.

In the three experiments carried out so far, the students who practised mindfulness were significantly more efficient as they took less time to achieve the same results.

While the sample of the study is small; the researchers intend to replicate their experiment in other universities to be able to generalise their findings.

Full story from Science Daily 

Being mindful may support healthy behaviours

A new study investigated a mediation model that explores psychological and emotional coping processes as mechanisms connecting mindfulness to reduced stress perceptions and reactions, which then predict physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption, and sleep quality. They found that being mindful may have stress reductive effects that support individual’s participation in healthy behaviours.

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Abstract

Engagement in modifiable health behaviours plays a critical role in the development of chronic illnesses. Research suggests that mindfulness facilitates health-enhancing behaviour, yet the influence of mindfulness on different health behaviours and the mechanisms underlying this association are unclear. This study investigated a mediation model that explores psychological and emotional coping processes (reappraisal, suppression, and psychological flexibility) as mechanisms connecting mindfulness to reduced stress perceptions and reactions, which then predict physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption, and sleep quality.

Adults (n equal to 233) completed self-report measures via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and path modelling was used to test the model for direct, indirect, and total effects. Results revealed that greater mindfulness was indirectly associated with greater engagement in all 3 health behaviours through the proposed mediators, although the association with fruit and vegetable consumption was only trending in significance. Among the coping processes, psychological flexibility emerged as the strongest mechanism in the prediction of stress. Findings suggest that being more mindful may have downstream stress-reductive effects that enhance engagement in healthy behaviour, supporting mindfulness as a potential addition to behavioural health interventions.

Sagui-Henson, S.  et al| Examining the psychological and emotional mechanisms of mindfulness that reduce stress to enhance healthy behaviours |Stress and Health | ePub (ahead of print) | doi: 10.1111/cp.12147

The article may be requested by Rotherham NHS staff here