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Stress Reduction and Social Network Enhancement: How Socialness can Buffer Chronic Stress in Children
CARRO REGALADO, N.; D'ADAMO, P.; LOZADA, M.
Simposio; Fronteras en Biociencia 2; 2016
Instituto de Investigación en Biomedicina de Buenos Aires CONICET - Instituto Partner de la Sociedad Max Planck
Given the high levels of chronic stress frequently observed in children nowadays, and considering the beneficial effects of altruism and social networking on general health and well-being, it is interesting to explore how the development of these attributes may contribute to buffering against stress during childhood. In the present study we evaluated whether practices involving self-awareness and cooperation between peers can improve health and social relationships. A short intervention consisting of mind-body integration practices, cooperative play and reflective instances was carried out with 6-8 year-old-children in an educational context. Before and after the intervention: 1) saliva was collected at awakening hours to dosage the chronic stress biomarker, salivary alpha-amylase; 2) an individual interview was conducted in order to analyze perceived stress, assessed through the Children?s daily stress inventory, and to evaluate social relationships within the group, using a Sociometric questionnaire in which children were asked to say which classmates they would choose as playmates and which they would not. Moreover, pre and post altruistic behavior was analyzed by means of the Universal altruism test (adaptation from the dictator game). We found that children who participated in the intervention revealed decreased chronic stress levels, indicated by a reduction in both salivary alpha-amylase concentration and self-report stress indices. Furthermore, universal altruism enhancement was observed in participants, as well as an improvement in social networking, evidenced by a significant increase in positive elections between peers and a decrease in negative ones. In sum, the current investigation provides further evidence of how social buffering can promote better health and enhance wellness during this crucial stage of development. Our results describe novel positive changes which can be achieved in formal education settings. The implementation of this kind of intervention can contribute to improvements in children?s resilience and wellbeing