Recent research: 2 mindfulness studies, 2 on goal setting, 1 on wellbeing & reduction in risk of mental illness, 1 on compassion
Last updated on 5th January 2011
See the two earlier blog posts - "Therapeutic writing & speaking: inspiration from values (background information)" and "Therapeutic writing & speaking: inspiration from values (how-to-do-it)" for fuller details of these self-affirmation, self-transcendence approaches.
This "instructions" post is downloadable as a Word doc.
I wrote yesterday about "Therapeutic writing & speaking: inspiration from values (background information)". Today's post looks more at how-to-do-it details. Self-affirmation research describes a number of effective ways to reduce stress, clarify thinking, and boost effectiveness. If the affirmation exercise is being done in response to a particular stress or threat, it's sensible to choose a subject to write (or speak) about that is of real personal importance but that is different from the area that's being threatened. Happily several other writing research studies suggest additional ways of making this type of exercise even more helpful. So a standard set of self-affirmation instructions might well involve asking participants to choose a particularly important personal value (for example, kindness,
Writing (or speaking) about our values or areas of our lives that are of particular personal importance can help us feel less threatened by stresses and more able to see situations clearly. There are many research studies demonstrating this. For example writing about personal values has been shown to reduce both subjectively experienced psychological stress and the body's adrenaline response to taking an academic exam (Sherman, Bunyan et al. 2009). This easing in sense of threat tends to boost the exam results people achieve, especially for those who tend to get more stressed (Cohen, Garcia et al.
Here are half a dozen recent research studies on mindfulness, values & meaning - fuller details, links and abstracts for all studies are listed further down this page. Hofmann and colleagues' meta-analysis on "The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression" found encouraging effect sizes for mindfulness training and concluded "These results suggest that mindfulness-based therapy is a promising intervention for treating anxiety and mood problems in clinical populations". Meanwhile Barnhofer & Chittka underlined the toxicity of ruminative brooding with their demonstration that the well-demonstrated link between neurotic temperament and depression is mediated by "Tendencies to respond to mild low mood with ruminative thinking". They conclude that "The results suggest that neuroticism predisposes individuals to depression by generally increasing the likelihood of ruminative responses to low mood&quo
Berlin, Saturday morning. We flew in from Edinburgh pretty early yesterday. Direct flight. Easy. Guilt over air travel a little allayed by buying carbon offsets through ClimateCare. We're staying in a Miniloft, one of the really nice set of self-catering apartments designed by Matthew Griffin & Brita Jurgens, an architect couple whose practice is up at the top of the building.
Here are seven recent papers on panic, attention training, and the effects of childhood sexual abuse (all details & abstracts to these studies are listed further down this blog post). Pfaltz & colleagues report on a novel ambulatory respiratory monitoring system that seems to demonstrate that panic sufferers are not routinely suffering from breathing abnormalities (e.g. hyperventilation) when they go about their daily lives. The CBT theory of panic disorder would go along with this - panic being seen as due, in part, to catastrophizing about the meaning of experienced physical sensations rather than due to simply having unusual physical sensations. Shelby et al's paper extends this understanding concluding that with sufferers from non-cardiac chest pain (NCCP) "Chest pain and anxiety were directly related to greater disability and indirectly related to physical and psychosocial disability via pain catastrophizing.
What we've seen in our work is that most people don't give themselves permission to live until they've been given a terminal diagnosis.