Teaching Mindfulness (2019)
Stress affects people in their daily lives and can reduce memory and emotion processing as well as mental connections. Persistent stress can increase incidence of depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and cardiovascular disease. Mindfulness therapeutic interventions have been proven effective in managing stress and stress-related symptoms. Mindfulness decreases perceived stress levels, medical and anxiety symptoms and blood pressure and also increases awareness, acceptance, emotion processing and coping skills in individuals.
The mindfulness program includes lessons on mindfulness-based stress management designed for ages ten and up. The program is interactive with a focus on teaching stress coping and relaxation techniques. Four hundred people participated in the program in 2019, including 142 youth and 258 adults.
Participants were reached in a variety of settings, including schools (George Read Middle School, Milford Central Academy, Milford High School, University of Delaware), community locations (Bear Library, Camp Fresh) professional development opportunities (Kent County Office Professional Development Lunch and Learn, Agriculture Team Statewide Staff Meeting, Administrative Assistant Annual Conference, Sussex Master Gardeners, FCE Group, Milford After-school, 4-H Military), conferences (National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, National Association of 4-H Extension Agents, 4-H Healthy Living Summit), Cooperative Extension Events and Trainings (4-H Leaders Forum, 4-H Experience Extension Camp, 4-H Cloverbuds Camp) and Train-the-Trainers events (University of Delaware, Cornell Cooperative Extension).
This year, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension Agents reached a total of 400 individuals, including youth and adults, throughout the state and nationally.
Extension professionals administered the general survey to a total of 16 youth who received five lessons of mindfulness training in stress management skills and validated pre-post research scales to 36 youth who participated in a research study at George Read (**See “School-based Mindfulness Training for Adolescents with Program Referrals: A Mixed Method Approach for research analysis and results). Of the 16 youth from the Milford After-school sites, 31% reported an increased ability to identify personal stressors, 44% reported an increased ability to define mindfulness and how it relates to health and wellness and 100% planned to adopt at least one new mindfulness-based stress management technique as a result of the program.
Extension professionals also administered the survey to a total of 26 adults who received mindfulness training in stress management skills. After the adult program, 69% of participants reported an increased ability to identify personal stressors, 69% reported an increased ability to define mindfulness and how it relates to health and wellness and over 92% planned to adopt at least one new positive stress technique as a result of the program.