Page content

Navigating stress

May 26, 2015

An Ohio State researcher explains how her research has found its way “from the bench to the people” and is helping to lessen everyday stress in the lives of workers.

Stress is a given. 

But an Ohio State researcher’s work is helping people of all ages and professions reduce their stress and improve their overall wellness.

“We all have the same stresses – lack of control is a big one people struggle with, lack of time, continuous partial attention is a huge problem,” says Maryanna Klatt, associate professor of Clinical Family Medicine.

An expert in integrative medicine, she has spent more than a decade studying perceived stress, sleep cortisol and salivary alpha amylase levels – an indicator of the fight-or-flight response we experience in stressful situations.

Using the analogy of a hurricane, Klatt explains that mindfulness training can help you navigate to the eye of the storm – the calmest part – and figure out a way to deal with the chaotic circumstances swirling around you in a positive manner.

She developed Mindfulness in Motion, an eight-week program that combines weekly group meetings on awareness and relaxation techniques with a 20-minute individual practice done daily.

In a study with intensive care unit nurses at Ohio State, Klatt found the program contributed to a 40 percent drop in the fight-or-flight indicator. Nearly 100 faculty and staff participated in a recent pilot program; participants reported significant declines in perceived stress and improvement in resilience and sleep quality.

“I don’t think people have to leave work to learn some strategies to reduce their stress,” Klatt says. “Translational research is the sweetness that comes with scientific research for me.”

That translation extends beyond the university setting as well – to inner-city school children across Columbus and city refuse workers. Klatt has trained OSU Extension staff, who in turn have led the program in communities across Ohio, and the University of Minnesota sublicensed the program and offers it as a fully covered benefit to employees through their health plan.

Anna Klatt, an MBA student at Fisher College of Business, says connections she’s made at Ohio State have been critical in sharing her mother’s work more broadly.

Ohio State’s Technology Commercialization Office helped Anna Klatt refine her business concept and get in front of potential customers and potential investors at events around Columbus. Staff even helped her connect with another Buckeye entrepreneur to develop an online version of the program launching this fall.

“The problem with research is that it’s created in an academic setting and can sometimes end up staying there,” she says. “When you know you have something that can help people, the way to get it out is through commercialization.”

Join the conversation


Commercialization initiative

Ohio State ranks third nationally among all research universities in industry-sponsored research, according to the National Science Foundation. Read more about how the university supports entrepreneurship as part of its academic research mission.