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Mindfulness and public speaking

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Are you afraid of making speeches? Dread making presentations at work? Research suggests that mindfulness could help.

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Researchers from Brown University invited 52 people, who previously had depression and are therefore typically more reactive to stress, into their lab.  The cheeky scientists then asked the participants to give an impromptu speech and measured their levels of stress before and after the speech. They randomly allocated the participants into two groups, one that received mindfulness training over a period of 8 weeks and another that didn’t.  They invited them back into the lab after the 8 week period and put them through the same ordeal all over again.  They found the mindfulness group had significantly less anxiety.  More specifically, they found that the control group was now significantly more anxious in anticipation of the speech, as they knew it was coming this time, whereas the mindfulness group did not have an increase in this anticipatory anxiety.  In addition they found that the control group took 40 minutes on average to recover from the stress, whereas the mindfulness practitioners recovered immediately.  So if you get nervous when thinking about public speaking, like a lot of us do, then mindfulness training could help!

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