June 13, 2023; Unhurry Expert Research Team
In This Article
A study reveals that engaging in mindful yoga and using healthy coping mechanisms for several months significantly lowers risky sex and substance misuse in disturbed 18 to 24-year-olds.
Few things are known about how to act to break this pattern, which leads some young people to turn to negative, dangerous behaviours as a way of coping with life stressors like exposure to violence and family disturbance.
However, a long-term study by the University of Cincinnati examines the relationship between traumatic life experiences and a rise in substance addiction, risky sexual conduct, and delinquency in a diverse group of 18 to 24-year-old individuals. The research also clarifies several coping mechanisms that may result in positive outcomes.
Positive coping behaviours have a protective effect on youth
Jacinda Dariotis, a public health researcher at UC, spent 12 months focused on early life stresses as a predictor of risky sexual behaviour, substance addiction, and delinquency for more than 125 at-risk children as part of a 10-year study looking at risk-taking and decision-making — or the lack thereof. Surprisingly, she discovered that a tiny percentage of the youngsters were already acting on their own to engage in healthy coping mechanisms that will benefit them later in life.
But what about most of the troubled youth who cope by engaging in negative, risky, and dangerous behaviours?
At the American Public Health Association conference in Atlanta, findings from the most recent phase of Dariotis’ research were presented under the heading “Stress coping strategies as mediators: Towards a better understanding of sexual, substance, and delinquency-related risk-taking among transition-aged youth.”
The study found that even in the face of early childhood stressors, acquired or self-generated positive coping practices can actually have a protective effect.
“We found that many of these youths who had endured stressful life events and otherwise would have fallen into the risky behaviour trap could actually have positive outcomes later in life because they chose to join in prosocial physical activities, yoga or mindfulness meditation,” says Dariotis.
Risky outlets- Link between stressful life events and negative behaviour
Dariotis examined the discrepancy between the youngsters who wanted to be positive influences in their life but found themselves repeatedly engaging in actions that had negative effects during the study. She discovered a connection between traumatic life events and an uptick in risky unprotected sex, violence, and drug usage.
“We took a holistic approach, looking at these issues from a social and biological perspective,” says Dariotis, also director of UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services Evaluation Services Centre. “In addition to question-and-answer information, we collected urine samples for drug use confirmation and testosterone levels early in the study to see how hormones played out in negative behaviours.”
Influential testosterone can be channelled through prosocial behaviours
According to Dariotis, testosterone can have a role in aggressive and dominating behaviours, but it can also have highly good effects when directed through prosocial behaviours like sports, yoga, or healthy competition.
“If you are the star on your sports team you are succeeding,” says Dariotis. “You can also be competitive academically where you succeed by competing with your peers.”
Although testosterone itself isn’t always dangerous, how it is used also matters, she continues.
The right track- not to dwell on the negative, rather think about better possibilities
Dariotis spent the last ten years collecting most of the data, which includes neuroimaging and weekly interviewing for hundreds of young people from all walks of life, at Johns Hopkins University before joining UC as an assistant professor of research.
“I’m particularly interested in teaching at-risk youths to regulate their thoughts, processes, and emotions,” says Dariotis. “The neuroimaging allows us to see what’s activated in one’s brain while at rest or performing tasks to help us understand the intersection between hormones, brain structure, and activity.”
At-risk kids who spend their free time reading, doing sports, or using avoidance coping mechanisms are twice as likely to abstain from dangerous sexual conduct and substance addiction, according to research by Dariotis. She cites not dwelling on a negative incident that had happened in favour of imagining what may be better as an example of avoidance coping behaviour.
According to Dariotis, young people who are unable to establish healthy coping mechanisms are significantly more likely to engage in riskier behaviours including unprotected sex, sex for pay, substance addiction, violence, and criminality.
Mindful Yoga intervention helps in developing healthier coping skills
Saving time, money, and lives
The youths in the current study learned how to regulate their breathing and their emotions by participating in weekly mindful yoga intervention programmes, which also assisted them in creating more effective long-term coping mechanisms.
“These findings highlight the importance of implementing positive coping strategies for at-risk youth, particularly for reducing illicit drug use and risky sexual behaviour,” says Dariotis. “Mindfulness-based yoga programs designed to improve the ability to cope are needed at earlier ages in schools to help vulnerable youths channel their skills more effectively.”
According to Dariotis, the return on investment may be significant given the relatively low cost of such programmes and their ease of adaption to various demographics and locations. This is especially true if they may lower arrests, repeat offences, and other undesirable consequences for risk-taking youngsters.
Yoga can help increase flexibility and balance, but the ancient practice could have another benefit: helping to lower high blood pressure.
Materials provided by the University of Cincinnati. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Jacinda K. Dariotis, Frances R. Chen, Douglas A. Granger. Latent trait testosterone among 18–24-year-olds: Methodological considerations and risk associations. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2016; 67: 1 DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.01.019
The University of Cincinnati. “Mindful yoga can reduce risky behaviors in troubled youth.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 December 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171207182527.htm>.
Help is here:
Toll-Free Mental Health Rehabilitation Helpline Kiran (1800-599-0019)
Name of the Organisation: The Yoga Institute
The Yoga Institute, world’s oldest yoga centre, was established in 1918. Their courses have transformed millions of lives and created more than 100000+ teachers worldwide. In 2018, The Yoga Institute received the Prime Minister’s Award for outstanding contribution for promotion and development of Yoga by the Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India. It has branches across the country.
Contact: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: +91-22-26110506, +91-22-26103568
Name of the Organisation: Vandrevala Foundation
Vandrevala Foundation is a non-profit that partners with organizations to help communities thrive by providing education and healthcare. Vandrevala Foundation launched a mental health helpline in India in 2009 to offer free psychological counselling and crisis mediation to anyone who is experiencing distress due to depression, trauma, mood disorders, chronic illness, and relationship conflict.
Contact: Email: email@example.com
Telephone: +91 9999 666 555