Episode 13: Stress and Mindfulness with John Rettger, PhD

Click here for the show notes for this week’s episode: Mindfulness And Stress Show Notes.

Today, I speak with Dr. John Rettger of the Stanford Medical School’s Early Life Stress and Pediatric Anxiety Program (ELSPAP) about stress and mindfulness. Dr. Rettger explains how stress changes the chemicals and structure of the brain, and how the adolescent brain may be especially sensitive to stress. He also talks about mindfulness, and draws on breaking studies to explain how meditation and mindfulness practices can combat the damage that stress does to the brain. Finally, he helps all of us to find easy practices to incorporate into our daily life to reduce stress and benefit from all that mindfulness has to offer for both mental and physical health.

Further reading for this episode includes:

  • In our interview, Dr. Rettger mentioned a piece by PBS Newshour that digs further into the science of his programs’s research on the brain and stress, especially among impoverished and traumatized adolescents. That piece can be found here, to watch or read as a transcript.
  • Sarah Lazar, the Harvard researcher responsible for studying mindfulness practices and its effects on brain structure, was also mentioned in the interview. An article about her work can be read here, from the Washington Post.
  • It turns out that stress and trauma are processed differently in the brains of boys and girls. Stanford University Medical School has done cutting edge research on this gender difference, which can be explored at this link.
  • For a more scientific read, check out this journal article from PubMed about how to Posterior Cingulate Cortex (PCC) makes us experience a feeling of “self,” especially when our minds wander. This region of the brain is fascinating for anyone interested in the feeling of a personal self separate from others and how it arises in the brain.


Image: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/53737aa5e4b05f3bc930c4ff/t/555e54d9e4b0a3c6fb3a33a5/1432245470101/Mindfulness-Meditation.jpg?format=2500w


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