Just 5 minutes of mindfulness for mental health?     

Mindfulness meditation can have many mental health benefits.

For example, a review of 13 studies showed improvement in ADHD symptoms with mindfulness meditation (1).

41 trials show mindfulness meditation helped improve stress related outcomes such as anxiety, depression, stress, positive mood, etc. (2)

There are other studies showing benefits of mindfulness and meditation for mental health (3)

A recent study looked at the potential benefits on university students of engaging in just 5 minutes of mindfulness meditation at the beginning of a class (4).

What was the study design? (4)

  • 133 Students engaged in 5 minutes of mindfulness meditation at the beginning of class upto 3 days per week (4).
  • 13 faculty members teaching 19 different courses were trained to follow the mindfulness protocol and shared their course rosters with the researchers; they were also provided with support throughout the study (4).
  • Class sizes ranged from 7 to 430 students (4).
  • Pre- and post-test survey responses were collected from students taking courses from faculty who were trained to facilitate brief classroom-based mindfulness activities (4).

What were the results? (4)

  • Due to the program, students reported a decrease in stress and improvement in well-being as measured by Perceived Stress Scale and WHO-5 Well being scale, respectively (4).
  • 34% of students recounted the utility of mindfulness programming as most relevant in times of stress both inside and beyond class, and as useful when trying to “not become overwhelmed” and for recognizing when they needed “to take a minute to breathe.” (4)
  • 47% of students reported improved stress management outside of class (4).

What are some caveats?

  • This is a small study at 1 university and further study is needed to verify the effectiveness of a classroom based mindfulness program.
  • There are many mindfulness and mediation resources available that students can consider before or after class.
  • Not everyone might find mindfulness based programs beneficial; which could limit usability in the classroom.
  • Further study is needed before applying any 1 such program systematically on a large scale.
  • Brief classroom based wellness activities have the potential to benefit mental health. Students might be more motivated to explore such wellness activities further after learning about them in the classroom.
  • This study highlights the potential benefits of brief mindfulness activities on mental health even if it’s not every day.

What are some helpful resources for mindfulness and meditation?

By Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA

If you would like to be notified of a new post (usually once per month), please enter your email above.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. Poissant, H., Mendrek, A., Talbot, N., Khoury, B., & Nolan, J. (2019). Behavioral and Cognitive Impacts of Mindfulness-Based Interventions on Adults with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Systematic Review. Behavioural neurology2019, 5682050. doi:10.1155/2019/5682050
  2. Goyal M, Singh S, Sibinga EMS, et al. Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-Being [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2014 Jan. (Comparative Effectiveness Reviews, No. 124.)Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK180102/
  3. Patel R. Mental Health For College Students  https://a.co/d/iXhbkAj
  4. JesseHonsky , Marjorie N. Edguer , Elizabeth R. Click , Suzanne Rusnak , Barbara Burgess Van Aken , Matthew A. Salerno & Kristen A. Berg (2023) Mindfulness matters in the classroom: A pilot study of a university-wide classroom-based brief mindfulness program, Journal of American College Health, DOI: 1080/07448481.2023.2237596

 

Loneliness over the holidays and winter months

Many people experience loneliness (1).  It can impact mental health and physical health as discussed in the Surgeon General’s 2023 report (2).

Strategies to address this has been discussed previously (3).

Yet for many others, loneliness can be amplified during the holidays and winter months.

  • For example, people who are already lonely may feel even more isolated and disconnected from others. This is partly because the holiday season is often portrayed as a time of togetherness and celebration with loved ones, which can make those who are alone feel left out and more acutely aware of their loneliness.
  •  Others experiencing increased loneliness during the holidays include people who are away from their friends and family, recently separated or divorced, those that have lost loved ones, people traveling for work, etc. and those who gain most of their social interactions in the work setting as they may not be working during the holidays, etc.

What are some mental health concerns that can occur due to loneliness?

  • Loneliness can impact anxiety, depression, alcohol, or drug use, other addictive behaviors, etc. (4)
  • Holidays can also be a stressful time for some due to lives lost during the pandemic, relationships strained due to loss of practice (social isolation), and political disagreements.

What are some strategies to help with loneliness during the holidays and winter months?

  • Think of all the years past and if there were activities or moments that you enjoyed around the holidays winter months. Now think of ways you could plan those activities or moments this holiday or winter season.
  • Reach out to current or past friends, relatives, acquaintances that in advance and inquire about their holiday plans in case you can get together with them.
  • Participate or volunteer with organizations like Salvation army, United way, community events, religious events, etc
  • Go on a trip: many vacation spots provide a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  Research a trip for the spring or summer, this can be an enjoyable experience for some people and it will give you something to look forward to.
  • Stay busy, maintain a structure to your day-eat nutritious foods, get enough sleep, exercise; work on projects around the house, hobbies, etc.
  • The task or project you’ve been putting off? The holidays might be a great time to work on it.
  • Use the power of social media and look into what healthy activities have worked for others.
  • Consider taking 5 actions for 5 days.
  • For other strategies go here: https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/category/loneliness/

For more resources: 

By R Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA

If you would like to be notified of a new post (usually once per month), please enter your email above.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation: The Surgeon General’s Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community 2023. https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/surgeon-general-social-connection-advisory.pdf
  2. Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation: The Surgeon General’s Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community 2023. https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/surgeon-general-social-connection-advisory.pdf
  3. Patel R. Mental Health For College Students https://a.co/d/iXhbkAj

Strategies for finals and academic stress

As finals approach, many students find themselves increasingly stressed while trying to do their best academically.  In that situation, some students may find them selves doing things that inadvertently worsen their stress and academic performance.  For example, many students increase caffeine intake during finals but this might actually worsen attention (1,3).    Other students who do not have adhd might use study drugs, but this can also worsen attention (2,3).

So how can students take steps to finish strong academically?

Consider brief activity as breaks to improve focus: https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2022/04/22/brief-activity-vs-relaxation-breaks-for-energy/

Consider these other strategies to improve focus: https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2021/03/30/strategies-to-improve-attention/

Finally, take a look at this link to identify 5 things to increase, and 5 things to decrease for a successful end of semester: https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2021/03/30/strategies-to-improve-attention/

 

By R Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA

If you would like to be notified of a new post (usually once per month), please enter your email above.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2015/03/10/do-energy-drinks-help-or-hurt-your-attention/
  2. https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2023/06/30/smart-drugs-might-not-always-help-with-focus/
  3. Patel R. Mental Health For College Students  https://a.co/d/iXhbkAj