If you are subject to continuous stress and are worried that sooner or later you’re likely to succumb to depression or a burnout, maybe you should consider meditation. Researchers at Kaiser Permanente Northwest report in The Permanente Journal that half an hour of meditation a day protects teachers against having a burnout.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi introduced Transcendental Meditation to the West about fifty years ago and built up a whole empire around it. Transcendental Meditation is a simple mental technique that reduces stress. Studies have shown that meditating twice for 15-20 minutes a day is enough to reduce the production of stress hormones and the likelihood of falling ill.
In the US, and other countries too, over half of the teachers experience stress, no doubt due to the ban on the use of electric shocks, toasters and pepper spray to motivate pupils to pay even more attention in the classroom.
The researchers carried out an experiment on forty of these teachers, all of whom had several years of experience. Half of them made up the control group, and continued their teaching work as normal. The other half were taught Transcendental Meditation and meditated at home twice a day for 15-20 minutes for a period of four months.
Before and after the four-month period the researchers measured the amount of stress, depression and likelihood of a burnout happening to the teachers using standardised questionnaires. The figure below shows that the teachers who meditated scored better on all three matters.
“The study has important implications for reducing psychological distress and burnout in teachers and support staff”, the researchers write. “This, in turn, may affect both classroom teaching and mental and physical health. Results suggest that additional studies of Transcendental Meditation in other stressful work environments, such as health care, may also be warranted.”
Effect of transcendental meditation on employee stress, depression, and burnout: a randomized controlled study.
Workplace stress and burnout are pervasive problems, affecting employee performance and personal health.
To evaluate the effects of the Transcendental Meditation program on psychological distress and burnout among staff at a residential therapeutic school for students with severe behavioral problems.
A total of 40 secondary schoolteachers and support staff at the Bennington School in Vermont, a therapeutic school for children with behavioral problems, were randomly assigned to either practice of the Transcendental Meditation program or a wait-list control group. The Transcendental Meditation course was provided by certified instructors.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
Outcome measures were assessed at baseline and four months, and included perceived stress, depression, and burnout. A multivariate analysis of covariance was used to determine overall effects.
Analysis of the 4-month intervention data indicated a significant improvement in the main outcomes of the study resulting from practice of the Transcendental Meditation program compared with controls (Wilks ? [3,28] = 0.695; p = 0.019). Results of univariate F tests indicated a significant reduction of all main outcome measures: perceived stress (F[1,32] = 13.42; p = < 0.001); depression (F[1,32] = 6.92; p = 0.013); and overall teacher burnout (F[1,32] = 6.18; p = 0.018). Effect sizes ranged from 0.40 to 0.94. CONCLUSIONS: The Transcendental Meditation program was effective in reducing psychological distress in teachers and support staff working in a therapeutic school for students with behavioral problems. These findings have important implications for employees’ job performance as well as their mental and physical health. PMID: 24626068 [PubMed - in process] PMCID: PMC3951026 Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24626068