Children learn to cultivate peace and calm within

Veilleux, Colleen M. The Implementation of a Silence Area into the Environment and How it Impacts the Social-Emotional Behavior of the Students. Diss. University of Wisconsin-River Falls, 2017. Full text.

Abstract. Modern children are plagued with struggles that were unheard of decades ago. Due to busy lifestyles and limitless use of technology, the social-emotional and physical well-being of children is at stake. Children today have increased attention problems, anxiety, and a lack of self-regulation and self-awareness. Mindfulness is the practice of sitting still and silent, focusing attention inward. Mindful practices cultivate peace and calm within the child, better equipping him/her to handle the stressors of life.

The implementation of a silence area into a Montessori environment facilitates these practices by providing children with a space devoted to being still and silent. This action research study surrounds the implementation of a silence area as a means to benefit the social-emotional behavior of students. The students’ use of the area was recorded each day. Behavior data was gathered to observe the impact the silence area had on the students. The findings showed a decrease in the amount of behavior that required redirection. Parent surveys were also conducted to gather data and observations of student behavior at home.

Those survey results suggested an increase in self-awareness and self-regulation as observed by the parents. Overall, the results of this study have shown that regular use of the silence area not only provides students with moments of solitude, but also benefits their social-emotional development through gains of self-regulation and self-awareness. Although more research on the topic of “mindfulness and children” is emerging, research concurs with these findings and their promising effects.

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Online mindfulness intervention to decrease caregiver burden

Tkatch, R., et al. “A Pilot Online Mindfulness Intervention to Decrease Caregiver Burden and Improve Psychological Well-Being.” Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 2017, 2156587217737204. Full text.

Abstract: Interventions to reduce caregiver burden are of great interest as the number of informal family caregivers continues to grow. The purpose of this study was to test the feasibility of an online mindfulness meditation intervention for community-dwelling older adult caregivers and to evaluate its impact on quality of life, caregiver burden, and psychological well-being. A total of 40 caregivers were recruited from 2 community center support groups to participate in an 8-week online mindfulness intervention.

Pre and post surveys were administered. Retention rates were high with 55% completing the post surveys and attending at least 5 out of 8 sessions. Matched pairs t test indicated that the intervention reduced caregiver burden, perceived stress, anxiety, and loneliness and improved mental well-being.

Online interventions offer flexibility for caregivers regardless of their responsibilities. Future research should expand this opportunity and explore the scalability of online mindfulness interventions.

Mindfulness-based intervention and happiness

Malboeuf-Hurtubise, Catherine, et al. “The Impact of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Happiness: A Reflection on the Relevance of Integrating a Positive Psychology Framework within Mindfulness Research in Youth.” International Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, 2017, pp. 1-15. Full text.

Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are increasingly implemented in school settings to alleviate psychological distress in elementary and high school students. Recently, authors have brought forward the fact that the focus and aims of MBIs in clinical settings are largely placed on reducing negative variables and symptoms associated to mental health disorders. Thus, these may not allow us to fully understand how and in which contexts MBIs can be useful in adult populations. As MBIs aim to help people bring focus to the present moment and awareness to all aspects of experience, both the positive and the negative, it appears relevant to study their potential to improve on positive variables, such as happiness.

This paper aims to engage in a reflection on the relevance of incorporating a positive psychology framework within MBI research in youth. Specifically, the importance of measuring the impact of MBIs on positive variables such as happiness are discussed.

Emotion regulation and mental habit in mindful eating

Fisher, Naomi R., et al. “Dispositional mindfulness and reward motivated eating: The role of emotion regulation and mental habit.” Appetite, published online 21 Jul 2017.

From the Abstract.  Evidence regarding the effectiveness of mindfulness based interventions (MBIs) for eating disorders, weight management and food craving is emerging and further studies are required to understand the underlying mechanisms of MBIs in these domains.

The current study was designed to establish the role of specific mechanisms underlying the putative relationship between mindfulness and reward motivated eating. We predicted that mindfulness would be negatively related to features of reward motivated eating and that this association would be mediated by emotion regulation and habitual negative self-thinking.

A cross-sectional survey measuring uncontrolled and emotional eating, mindfulness, emotion regulation and habitual negative self-thinking was completed by female and male meditators and non-meditators (N = 632). Lower levels of dispositional mindfulness were associated with difficulties in emotion regulation, habitual negative self-thinking and both emotional and uncontrolled eating.

Difficulties in emotion regulation significantly mediated the mindfulness-uncontrolled eating relationship. Habitual negative self-thinking significantly mediated the mindfulness-emotional eating relationship. Participants with meditation experience reported greater levels of dispositional mindfulness, fewer difficulties with emotion regulation and habitual negative self-thinking and reduced uncontrolled eating tendencies, compared to non-meditators.

The findings suggest that MBIs designed to change reward motivated eating and weight control should focus on emotion regulation and mental habits as underlying mechanisms.

Mindfulness training supports political compromise

Alkoby, Alon, et al. “Increased Support for Political Compromise in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Following an 8-Week Mindfulness Workshop.” Mindfulness, first online March 31, 2017, pp. 1-9, DOI: 10.1007/s12671-017-0710-5.
Abstract. We examined whether it would reduce negative emotions and perceptions and lead to increased support for compromise in the context of prolonged intergroup conflict. We also examined the effect of an intervention that combines mindfulness with cognitive reappraisal, a method that enhances emotion regulation.

Israeli students participated in a mindfulness course that either began in the winter semester (mindfulness group) or in the spring semester (control group). After the termination of the mindfulness course, all participants were invited to a laboratory session in which they were randomly assigned to either receive or not a short cognitive reappraisal training.

The results showed that after being presented with anger-inducing information related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, participants in the mindfulness condition only, the reappraisal condition only or the combined group (mindfulness and reappraisal), were more supportive of conciliatory policies compared to participants that received no mindfulness nor reappraisal training.

The increased support for conciliatory policies was mediated by a decrease in negative emotions in all groups, while in the mindfulness group, it was also mediated by reduction in negative perceptions. The combined impact of mindfulness and reappraisal did not reveal any additional effect.

Youth with anxiety (review & meta-analysis)

Borquist-Conlon, Debra S., et al. Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Youth With Anxiety: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Research on Social Work Practice, 2017, pp. 1-11, DOI 10.1177/1049731516684961. Full text.

Purpose: To examine the effects on anxiety of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) among youth with anxiety disorders.

Method: Systematic review and meta-analytic procedures were employed to synthesize experimental and quasi-experimental studies authored between 1980 and 2015.

Results: The search yielded five studies from five countries reporting results for a total of 188 youth between the ages of 5 and 18 (mean age 13.26) who met criteria for an anxiety disorder.

Discussion: The findings of this review suggest that MBIs for the treatment of anxiety in youth with anxiety disorders are effective.

Reduction of depressive symptoms

Fissler, M., et al. (2016). An Investigation of the Effects of Brief Mindfulness Training on Self-Reported Interoceptive* Awareness, the Ability to Decenter, and Their Role in the Reduction of Depressive Symptoms. Mindfulness, 1-12.

Abstract. Mindfulness-based interventions for the prevention and treatment of depression are predicated on the idea that interoceptive awareness represents a crucial foundation for the cultivation of adaptive ways of responding to negative thoughts and mood states such as the ability to decenter.

The current study used a multi-dimensional self-report assessment of interoceptive awareness, including regulatory and belief-related aspects of the construct, in order to characterize deficits in interoceptive awareness in depression, investigate whether brief mindfulness training could reduce these deficits, and to test whether the training unfolds its beneficial effects through the above-described pathway.

Currently depressed patients (n = 67) were compared to healthy controls (n = 25) and then randomly allocated to receive either a brief training in mindfulness (per-protocol sample of n = 32) or an active control training (per-protocol sample of n = 28). Patients showed significant deficits across a range of regulatory and belief-related aspects of interoceptive awareness, mindfulness training significantly increased regulatory and belief-related aspects of interoceptive awareness, and reductions in depressive symptoms were mediated through a serial pathway in which training-related increases in aspects of interoceptive awareness were positively associated with the ability to decenter, which in turn was associated with reduced symptoms of depression. These results support the role of interoceptive awareness in facilitating adaptive responses to negative mood.

* interoceptive: relating to stimuli produced within an organism, especially in the gut and other internal organs.