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Mindful : April 2018
PHOTOGRAPHBYILONAKRIJGSMAN First-time parenthood can throw couples for a loop. But tracking 218 newlyweds, Dutch psycholo- gists identified relationship elements that predict a happier marital adjustment. The keys are having a par tner who’s responsive to your needs, who you feel gratitude for, and whom you trust. Discrimination makes us sick Mindful with pets After struggling to man- age her bipolar disorder for years, UC Davis researcher Elisabeth Paige finally committed to meditation, something she’d tried before but couldn’t stick with. This time she did it differ- ently: Instead of closing herself in a room and focusing on her breath- ing, she allowed her two dogs to join her. Petting the dogs became her anchor to the present, and their response— deep relaxation—helped her to drop into medita- tion. She’s since writ- tenabookonhowto “petitate,” and offers guided practices on her website, Mindful- petitations.org. “ When we petitate, we get to improve our health, help our pets relax and form a deeper bond with us, and we no longer have to choose between paying attention to our pets and meditating.” How does coping with racial, gender, and other forms of prejudice affect health? The Harvard T.H . Chan School of Public Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Founda- tion, and NPR published a report series on this ques- tion in autumn 2017. Researchers asked 3,453 adults about discrimination in their daily lives, from employ- ment inequity to police harassment. Theyfound that for some groups, mental and physical health are severely impacted by social and institutional discrimination. A Twitter troll was amazed when Sarah Silverman didn’t lash back but sympathized with his pain and helped him find medical care. This year Canada and the UK are banning plastic microbeads, which pollute the oceans, from toiletry products. The US banned them in 2017. Eco-win! A Brazilian com- pany, learning half of their janitors couldn’t read or write, organized literacy classes for the staff during their lunch breaks. EXTRA ORDINARY ACTS OF KINDNESS How marriages can thrive post-baby Building the case for mindful treatments How well do mind- ful therapies stack up against other remedies for mental health issues? For certain ailments, the evi- dence appears promising. In a new assessment in Clinical Psychology Review, psycholo- gist Simon Goldberg and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin–Madison pooled results from 142 random- ized clinical trials involving more than 12,000 people. The meta-analysis covered psychiatric disorders rang- ing from social phobia to schizophrenia. It showed that at a broad-brush level, when all the data are combined, mindfulness-based interven- tions in those trials appear to be as helpful as long-standing therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and anti- depressants. However, when it comes to specific disorders, the proof of mindfulness’s effectiveness is still lacking in most cases; that’s generally because not enough rigorous studies have been done yet. There are key exceptions, though: For depression, pain, smoking cessation, and addictions, consistent evidence indicates that mindfulness interventions are as good at easing symptoms as frontline treatments, the investigators found. Mindful- ness isn’t a cure for all that ails us, Goldberg says, but “we should be taking it seri- ously as an intervention.” (For more on mindfulness therapy used in treating addiction, see page 54.) Wait without worry Law school grads who practice mindfulness, or who are naturally mindful, coped better while awaiting bar exam results, a University of California study found. With a more non-judgmental focus on the present, they braced for the worst later in the waiting period. Bracing early may heighten distress. April 2018 mindful 13