Taking Care of You: Body-Mind-Spirit – A Stress Management Program that Improves Lifestyle Behaviors

A session at The Priester National Extension Health Conference

Wednesday 11th April, 2012

1:15pm to 3:45pm (EST)

Molly Vetter-Smith
University of Missouri Extension

Research supporting the connection between stress and unhealthy lifestyle behaviors is well-established. Despite this, few stress management interventions evaluate changes in lifestyle behaviors. A research-based program titled Taking Care of You: Body, Mind, Spirit, was developed by University of Missouri Extension that assists adults in better dealing with life’s stressors resulting in lasting health behavior changes.

Taking Care of You: Body, Mind, Spirit uses an experiential approach to teach participants practical strategies that improve how one responds to life’s challenges and enhances positive emotions resulting in improved resiliency to stress. The program meets for one hour weekly for eight consecutive weeks. Program content integrates principles and techniques of positive psychology. Concepts and strategies from the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program are incorporated throughout the program but adapted for better acceptance in rural community-based settings (Kabat-Zinn, 1990).

The effectiveness of the program to reduce stress levels and improve lifestyle behaviors was evaluated using validated self-report surveys before, immediately after and three months following the end of the program with an exercise program as a comparison (n=299). Surveys assessed participants’ perceived stress levels and health promoting lifestyle behaviors including, nutrition, physical activity, health responsibility, social health, spiritual health and stress management behaviors.

Program evaluation results demonstrated, in comparison to the exercise program, greater improvements in perceived stress levels and health promoting lifestyle behaviors. Stress management participants improved exercise behaviors equally as much as participants taking part in the exercise program. All improvements were maintained at three months following the completion of the program.

Conference participants will be provided opportunities to learn about concepts and experience strategies of this program, how to apply program components to their existing programs, how to collaborate with other organizations to provide the program, and details of the program’s evaluation.

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Molly Vetter-Smith

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Time 1:15pm3:45pm EST

Date Wed 11th April 2012

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