Transcendental Meditation reduces teacher stress and burnout: study

February 3rd, 2014
This graph shows the average level of change in total burnout, as measured by the Maslach Burnout Inventory, in the Transcendental Meditation group compared to controls. The graph displays a marked reduction in burnout symptoms in the TM group, with the control group showing a small increase in burnout over the duration of the study. Credit: Maharishi University of Management
A new study published in The Permanente Journal (Vol. 18, No.1) on health showed the introduction of the Transcendental Meditation® technique substantially decreased teacher stress and burnout.

Research indicates that stress and burnout are pervasive problems among employees, with teachers being especially vulnerable to feeling frequent stress from their jobs. Burnout, a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and job dissatisfaction, has been found to contribute to lower teacher classroom performance and higher absenteeism and job turnover rates.

This current study sought to determine whether practice of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program results in lower psychological distress and decreased burnout in teachers and support staff at the Bennington School in Vermont, a special in-residence school for students with behavioral problems.

According to Dr. Charles Elder, MD, MPH, lead author of the study and a Senior Physician in the Department of Internal Medicine at Kaiser Permanente Northwest, "The results of this randomized controlled trial are very striking and demonstrate the utility of introducing a stress reduction program for teachers and other public and private employees. The four-month study found significant and clinically important decreases in perceived stress, emotional exhaustion associated with teacher burnout, and depressive symptoms in those practicing the TM program compared to a wait-list control group."

"Burnout and other psychological distress factors have been linked to negative health behaviors, obesity, and hypertension, all of which are major contributors to cardiovascular disease," emphasized Dr. Sanford Nidich, EdD, study principal investigator and Professor of Education at Maharishi University of Management. "Prior medical research has found that practice of the TM program is effective in reducing both risk factors for heart disease and cardiovascular events. Taken as a whole, this present study and prior research provide evidence for the value of the TM program for enhancing mental and physical health and well-being, explained Dr. Nidich."

The study included 40 teachers and support staff measured at baseline and then randomly assigned to either immediate start of the TM program or delayed start (wait-list control group). Compliance with practice of the TM technique throughout the four-month intervention period was high; 100% of the participants assigned to the TM group meditated at least once a day. Of those, 56% meditated regularly at home twice a day.

This is the first study to investigate the effects of Transcendental Meditation on teacher burnout. Recent published studies have shown a positive impact of this program on student graduation rates, academic achievement, and psychological distress. Transcendental Meditation has seen widespread implementation in secondary schools across the country within the context of school-wide Quiet Time programs.

Provided by Maharishi University of Management

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