Practice  How to access the practice Benefits How long studies suggest practicing to receive the benefit Research studies 

Cyclic sighing (a breathing exercise) 

Instructions: Breathe in through your nose. When you've comfortably filled your lungs, take a second, deeper sip of air to expand your lungs as much as possible. Then, very slowly, exhale through your mouth until all the air is gone. Make your exhale longer than your inhale. 

  • Instruction video here
Lower heart rate, lower respiration rate, lower anxiety symptoms, improved mood 5 minutes/day for 30 days Balban et al. (2023). Brief structured respiration practices enhance mood and reduce physiological arousal. Cell Reports Medicine, 4(1): 100895.

Loving Kindness Meditation 

  • More helpful information can be found here.

 

  1. Lower perceived stress and higher social connectedness 

  1. Increased positive emotions, increased life satisfaction, decreased depressive symptoms, improved heart rate variability/vagal tone, increased positive emotions, increased social connectedness 

  1. 5 days/week for 3 weeks 

  1. 5 days/week for 15 minutes/session for 9 weeks 

  1. Telke et al. (2022). A randomized trial of 21 days of loving kindness meditation for stress reduction and emotional well-being within an online health community for patients, family, and friends experiencing a cancer health journey. Journal of Integrative Complementary Medicine, 28(2):158-167. doi: 10.1089/jicm.2020.0512.
  2. Fredrickson et al. (2008). Open hearts build lives: Positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(5), 1045-1062.
  3. Kok et al. (2013). How positive emotions build physical health: Perceived positive social connections account for the upward spiral between positive emotions and vagal tone. Psychological Science, 24(7), 1123-1132.

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, six practices to choose from: awareness of breath, body scan, walking meditation, yoga, choiceless awareness, and Loving Kindness Meditation  

Any certified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program will reliably teach these skills. UMC clergy in the Selah trial learned through the Duke Integrative Medicine distance learning program with 8, 90-minute sessions, offered synchronously over Zoom. Their program now is 9, 120-minute sessions. 

  • UCLA Mindful has an app that closely adheres to certified MBSR.  

1. Decreased stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms, and decreased reactivity to stress. Increased positive mental health. Increased heart rate variability (HRV), which is associated with fewer strokes and cardiac events.

2. Decreased reactivity to stress. Improvements in insomnia and inflammation. Increased immune functions. Among patients with chronic pain, increased quality of life.

  1. 30 minutes/day for most days/week for 3 months 

  1. Various lengths of time across studies. 45 minutes/day is generally recommended, although some studies like ours have shown benefits with 27-30 minutes/day and some reputable researchers (e.g., James E. Stahl) say consistency is more important than the number of minutes and they encourage 15 minutes/day. 

  1. Study of UMC clergy in North Carolina: Proeschold-Bell et al. (2023). The Selah trial: A preference-based partially randomized waitlist control study of three stress management interventions. 

 

  1. Review article: Ngo, T. (2013). Review of the effects of mindfulness meditation on mental and physical health and its mechanisms of action. Santé Mentale au Québec, 38(2), 19-34. 

Daily Examen prayer practice 

UMC clergy in the Selah trial learned from two instructors, Mark Shaw and Karen Keen, who have created a self-guided retreat with videos and handouts.

Decreased stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Increased positive mental health and spiritual well-being.  10-12 minutes/day for most days/week for 6 months 

Study of UMC clergy in North Carolina: Proeschold-Bell et al. (2023). The Selah trial: A preference-based partially randomized waitlist control study of three stress management interventions. 

 

Resilience Writing (Expressive Writing) 

CHI has a handout for you to use. Alternatively, you can find instructions here. Writing reduces intrusive thoughts, rumination, depressive symptoms, and blood pressure. It also improves attention, grades, and work attendance. 20 minutes/day for 3-4 days in a row