Monthly Archives: September 2013
Teachers who practice Mindfulness are better able to reduce their personal stress levels and susceptibility to burnout.
This is the finding of new research undertaken by Lisa Flook, an Assistant Scientist at the Centre for Investigating Healthy Minds (CIMH) at University of Wisconsin.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It happens when an individual feels overwhelmed and unable to meet the constant demands on them. While similar to, it is different from compassion fatigue and vicarious traumatisation.
Burnout reduces an individual’s productivity and saps their energy, leaving them feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical and resentful. Eventually, individuals experiencing burn out may feel like they have nothing more to give.
Most of us have days when we feel stressed overloaded, or unappreciated, when this becomes a pattern, we become candidates for burnout. This has serious consequences on both professional and personal functioning.
Objective of Study
The purpose of the CIMH study designed by Flook who has advanced degrees in education and psychology was to help teachers manage escalating levels of stress. The demands of the curriculum coupled with the behaviour of a small percentage of pupils are a known recipe for feeling overwhelmed.
It is well known that burnout causes many problems including extended sick leave.
The practice of Mindfulness arises from centuries old meditative traditions that are now being taught in a secular way.
An increasing number of studies are emerging that focus on empirical research which is open to rigorous scientific scrutiny.
Mindfulness is a technique that when learnt can heighten an individual’s core sense of awareness. This includes an awareness of self; a noticing of external stimuli and body sensations. Importantly the practice develops an ability to register stressors but not respond to them.
Practiced well, Mindfulness produces a sense of calm and wellbeing. Let’s be clear, it does not remove the stressors per se, rather being able to practice Mindfulness effectively, changes reactions to stress. Used effectively, it can be a powerful tool to reduce burnout in teachers.
The cohort of teachers who took part in the study learned specific strategies for both preventing and dealing with stressors in the classroom. They learnt techniques such as ‘dropping in,’ a term to describe the process of bringing attention to the sensations of breath and other physical sensations, thoughts and emotions for short periods. They reported a significant stress reduction.
Mindfulness and stress reduction
Research is drawing clear links between Mindfulness and cortisol reduction. Cortisol is a stress hormone. It is an integral part of the fight or flight response. When we are stressed or scared cortisol production is ramped up. Excessive cortisol is known to increase inflammation in the body that over a period of time can contribute to physical health problems.
A previous study carried out in 2013 and published in the Journal of Health Psychology found an association between increased Mindfulness practice and decreased cortisol production.
The level of the hormone present in the saliva of participants was measured before and after taking part in a Mindfulness retreat.
Tonya Jacobs a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California said in a statement that ‘A direct relationship between resting cortisol and the scores obtained on any Mindfulness scale was identified’.
Bringing Mindfulness to Teachers
Teaching Mindfulness to teachers is an exciting new project that offers potential gains, in particular, retaining talented teachers in education. A large amount of interest has been expressed by teachers who have already observed how Mindfulness has helped their pupils. Now they are beginning to understand the wider application of Mindfulness in education.
Running Mindfulness training for teachers is a specially tailored programme based on the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Programme.
For further information on Mindfulness techniques for teachers, please contact Sheehan Brooke Psychology 01243 775055. The organisation provide a range of Mindfulness workshops at their s rural offices near Chichester West Sussex and at venues throughout UK and Southern Ireland
Further reading: Mindfulness for Teachers: A Pilot Study to Assess Effects on Stress, Burnout and teaching Efficacy (Pages 183-185) , published in Journal of Mind, Brain and Education September 2013, Lisa Flook, Simon B. Goldberg, Laura Pinger, Katherine Bonus and Richard J Davidson
Is my child experiencing depression?
One of the questions that parents frequently ask is “Is my child depressed’? Children, just like their parents have ‘down’ days. It might be that they have had a hard day at school, fallen out with a best friend or are simply trying to adjust to a new situation. Parents often panic when their child appears low and often wonder if he or she is beginning to display symptoms of depression.
Younger children do not always present as being depressed. Often they internalise their distress and act it out in a behavioural or physical manner. It is often difficult for parents, carers and teachers to spot the signs of depression in a child.
Below are the most frequent symptoms seen in younger children.
Older children and adolescents are more likely to present in a similar way to adults.
1. Depressed children do not always look depressed
2. Sleep changes
3. Appetite changes
4. Irregularity of bowel habits
5. School problems
6. Prolonged negative reaction to crisis
7. Loss of interest in usual activities
8. Change of friends and social behaviour
9. Expressing helplessness
10. Physical symptoms
If your child is displaying these symptoms for longer than two weeks or if there is more than one symptom it is time to consult your GP or child psychologist. Sheehan Brooke Psychology hold a free parenting clinic each Monday where advice is readily available. 01243 775055.
The decision to stay in or leave a relationship. Is it really over?
“Is our relationship really over?” or “Might we be able to make it work again?” These are questions often heard by our team. Clients who present for psychotherapy or mediation frequently ask for advice on this issue.
Unfortunately, there is not a simple answer that will end this difficult dilemma. However, there are some points to consider which may help you move along the decision making process.
This short article considers some of the emotional issues that play a part in deciding whether to stay or leave a relationship.
1) Is there any form of abuse? If there is, why have you remained in the relationship? Do you need help in breaking away? What action do you need to take to enable your physical and/or emotional safety?
2) Is the relationship just in a bad place? It is normal to sail into stormy waters at times. Danger signals arise when there are many more bad than good times? Ask yourself how serious your feelings are right now? Would you feel so angry with or disconnected from your partner if they returned from work today and told you they had a terminal illness?
3) Are you both wanting to save the relationship? If the answer is ‘No’, there is little point in trying to work on it. Both parties must be truly motivated to successfully rekindle a relationship. A one-sided wish to remain in relationship produces increased heartache and extended distress for both parties.
4) Do you still feel able to trust your partner? Can you trust them with the things that matter to you? Can you adopt cautious trust? There must be a genuine commitment made to putting aside past events however painful this process is.
When ‘letting go of past hurts’ you must also promise yourself that you will take sensible precautions, rather than engage in paranoid behaviour, to ensure that you do not allow yourself to be severely let down or cheated by your partner in the future.
5) Are you still able to communicate together? Do you end up feeling really angry when you do try to talk? Can you really listen to and hear your partner’s feelings or is your own agenda getting in the way?
If both of you are committed to the relationship but keep having conversation ‘cross ups’, a communication seminar for couples might help sort out this difficult area.
6) Do you still respect your partner? You don’t have to love or even like them right now but it is vital that you still respect them as a person. If the respect has gone, it will be almost impossible to kick start the relationship again.
7) Do you still find your partner attractive? Is the spark still there? If not why not? Has your mojo disappeared because of the other factors that feel wrong? If you are able to improve other areas, it is highly likely that intimacy will return and possibly be better than before.
8) Are your life goals similar? Do you share the same plans and dreams?
It is useful to bear in mind that close relationships need the following ingredients to work well; respect, trust, communication, intimacy and shared goals.
To continue or end your relationship is a hard decision. There are normally many factors that couples must consider. Decisions regarding children, finances and property are crucially important. These usually arise after the emotional decision making process has taken place.
It is interesting to observe that many couples spend a considerable period thinking about practical and legal matters. However, they frequently pass through the emotional decision making process extremely quickly, often largely unconsciously. High emotions frequently produce rash decisions, a period of reflection on the above points may help in finding the right choice for you.
Article by Chrissie Tizzard Clinical Director Sheehan Brooke Psychology, 8-9 The Courtyard, Trident Business Park, Chichester Rd, Selsey, West Sussex PO20 9DY Tel: 01243 775055 www.sheehanbrooke.org Sheehan Brooke is a provider of psychology and mediation services throughout the UK.
Sep. 11, 2013 — In a new study looking at toddlers and preschoolers with autism, researchers found that children with better motor skills were more adept at socializing and communicating.
Published online today in the journal Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, this study adds to the growing evidence of the important link between autism and motor skill deficits.
Lead author Megan MacDonald is an assistant professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University. She is an expert on the movement skills of children with autism spectrum disorder.
Researchers tested 233 children ages 14 to 49 months diagnosed with autism.
“Even at this early age, we are already seeing motor skills mapping on to their social and communicative skills,” MacDonald said. “Motor skills are embedded in everything we do, and for too long they have been studied separately from social and communication skills in children with autism.”
Developing motor skills is crucial for children and can also help develop better social skills. MacDonald said in one study, 12-year-olds with autism were performing physically at the same level as a 6-year-old.
“So they do have some motor skills, and they kind of sneak through the system,” she said. “But we have to wonder about the social implications of a 12-year-old who is running like a much younger child. So that quality piece is missing, and the motor skill deficit gets bigger as they age.”
In MacDonald’s study, children who tested higher for motor skills were also better at “daily living skills,” such as talking, playing, walking, and requesting things from their parents.
“We can teach motor skills and intervene at young ages,” MacDonald said. “Motor skills and autism have been separated for too long. This gives us another avenue to consider for early interventions.”
MacDonald said some programs run by experts in adaptive physical education focus on both the motor skill development and communicative side. She said because autism spectrum disorder is a disability that impacts social skills so dramatically, the motor skill deficit tends to be pushed aside.
“We don’t quite understand how this link works, but we know it’s there,” she said. “We know that those children can sit up, walk, play and run seem to also have better communication skills.