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Psychoeducation and Breathing Training for Stress Reduction in Student Athletes.

Mosley, E., Duncan, S., Herklots, H., Kavanagh, E. J. and Laborde, S., 2021. Psychoeducation and Breathing Training for Stress Reduction in Student Athletes. In: International Society of Sports Psychology conference, 30 September-4 October 2021, Taiwan & Virtual.

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Abstract

Student athletes are exposed to many stressors across their university career and must juggle academic study and athletic pursuits. One simple and accessible relaxation technique is slow paced breathing (SPB). SPB is recognised as an effective stress management technique and can be used in high stress environments such as sport. Breathing at a specific pace (6 cycles per minute) triggers the resonance properties of the cardiovascular system and results in an increase in cardiac vagal activity (CVA), which may lead to reduced stress and enhanced wellbeing. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of a psychoeducation and SPB intervention upon psychological stress, wellbeing and CVA in student athletes. Following institutional ethical approval, eight student athletes (Mage=20.75, SD=1.38, 3 female) competing at either national or international level were involved in the intervention. Athletes attended four sessions: 1. baseline screening 2. education workshop 3. post-intervention screening and 4. follow up focus group). In session one athletes completed measures of psychological distress (Physical Health Questionnaire-9, The Generalised Anxiety Disorder Assessment -7), overall wellbeing and knowledge of SPB. Athletes then completed a stress test involving stress induction using a script and a Stroop task, during which subjective stress and CVA was measured at rest, task and recovery. In session two athletes were educated about the benefits of SPB, trained to effectively use SPB, and practiced SPB in stressful conditions. After session two athletes practiced SPB daily for five minutes over a four-week period using a smart phone application, kept diaries of their progress and each week reported general wellbeing. After this period athletes returned for session three in which session one measures were repeated (one athlete did not complete these measures). Session four assessed the effectiveness of the intervention through a focus group. Preliminary analysis using paired samples t-tests found no significant differences in psychological distress pre (M=9.50, SD=8.03) to post (M=4.50, SD=4.03) intervention (t(6)=1.663, p=.14) and no change in overall wellbeing from pre (M=69.14, SD=16.98) to post (M=76.14, SD=13.65) intervention (t=-1.206(6), p=.27). Focus groups were thematically analysed, themes identified included using SPB for relaxation and sleep, SPB in performance, SPB use outside of sport. Athletes reported SPB increased bodily relaxation before going to sleep, nervousness reduced before games and helped to refocus during performance. The findings suggest SPB may be successfully delivered via smart phones if athletes are educated effectively and may influence subjective stress management, sleep and performance.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Group:Bournemouth University Business School
ID Code:36186
Deposited By: Unnamed user with email symplectic@symplectic
Deposited On:03 Nov 2021 10:12
Last Modified:03 Nov 2021 10:12

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