Sylwia Sumi?skaCentral Institute for Labour Protection - National Research Institute, Poland
Title: Stress reduction after an 8-week mindfulness meditation – the assessment of the physiological response to stress
Stress is one of the most common health problems in the European Union. It contributes to the deterioration in health, i.e. cardiovascular, psychosomatic, and musculoskeletal disorders. It is also linked to mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. One of the methods of overcoming stress is mindfulness mediation (or MBSR, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction). Many studies reveal that MBSR is helpful in the treatment of somatic diseases, depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. Regular practicing mindfulness meditation causes an improvement in quality of life and a decrease in the level of perceived stress and physical symptoms of stress. Stress is related to physiological reactions and manifests itself in an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tone, and skin sweating. The project aims at assessing the reduction in reactivity to stress after MBSR by measuring the physiological response to induced stress.
Forty people participated in the study in 2 measurements at an 8-week interval. Twenty people were qualified for the group participating in MBSR and twenty for the control group. Inclusion criteria for the study were: subjective high level of stress, no chronic, psychiatric and neurological diseases. Measurements before and after 8 weeks included: the level of stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms (DASS-21), mindful attention awareness (MAAS), anxiety (STAI), and changes in the physiological response to the procedure inducing stress (MIST). MIST consisted of performing arithmetic tasks under pressure of time and pressure of high correctness of answers with the presence of the experimenter. Physiological parameters (EKG, EMG, SC, temperature) were recorded while performing MIST. The analysis of the results of the first measurement revealed that the MIST caused an increase in heart rate, muscle tone, and skin conductivity which indicates induced stress. Due to ongoing measurement after 8 weeks in each group, the overall results will be shown at the conference.
Sylwia Sumi?ska is a psychologist working in the Central Institute for Labor Protection - National Research Institute in Warsaw. She graduated in psychology and she has been working as a researcher in the Laboratory of Occupational Psychology and Sociology. She carries out projects in the field of psychophysiology of stress as well as cognitive skills and aging. Her research interests include understanding how paced breathing and meditation affect the human body and influence mental health.