Mindfulness Practice Benefits Adults with MS
New research from Ohio State University suggests mindfulness training may help people with multiple sclerosis improve their cognitive function and regulate negative emotions. In the pilot study, 61 adults with MS attended either a mindfulness training (MT) group or an active cognitive training (ACT) group for four weeks, or were placed on a waitlist and received training at the end of the study. Those in the MT group practiced paying attention to the present moment and learned how to focus on their breath and do mental body scans. People in the ACT group played computer games that helped them to focus, plan, and organize information.
At study’s end, adults in the MT group reported being better able to manage their emotions and showed greatly improved information-processing speed compared to the other two groups. These results are promising, as the mindfulness exercises used can be practiced regardless of physical ability, making them easily accessible to most people with MS.
Mindfulness Beats Breast Cancer Survivors’ Insomnia
The stress following a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment can lead to sleep troubles. Mindfulness training for insomnia may promote relaxation and improve sleep, a new study finds. 136 women who’d completed treatment for breast cancer were assigned to either a mindfulness group or a waitlist control group. Mindfulness participants attended six, 90-minute group sessions per week where they learned sitting and walking meditation, body scans, and yoga, and were given instruction on stress management and sleep hygiene. They were asked to practice at home for 20–40 minutes each day, and log their activities in a diary.
Participants’ surveys of mindfulness and insomnia, practice logs, and sleep data from wrist-worn actigraphs were examined before and after the intervention, then again three and six months later. Results showed that the mindfulness group had signiﬁcantly less insomnia and better sleep quality than controls. These improvements persisted even six months later, suggesting that those recovering from breast cancer may sleep better when practicing mindfulness.
Parenting Children with Autism
Learning how to parent children with autism can be stressful for their families. A pilot study led by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center has found evidence that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which can reduce stress and improve sleep, may offer benefit. Parents of three-year-old children with autism were randomly assigned to attend either a 12-session parenting education program alone, or the same program combined with an additional six one-hour individual sessions of MBSR instruction.
At the end of the study, both groups showed fewer symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety, but those receiving mindfulness instruction also showed less parental distress and fewer unhealthy parent-child interactions. While parents in the MBSR group reported being more mindful following the program, those in the other group were less mindful in the end. This suggests that mindfulness instruction may help to ease the stress of parenting young children with autism.