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St. Mike’s professor studying stress management for astronauts

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 1:36 PM EDT
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COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) - St. Michael’s College researchers recently got more money to help find ways to reduce astronauts’ stress while they’re in space.

Researchers studied 40 students this past fall and spring using a virtual reality meditation app called TRIPP, focusing in the last round on first responders. They took data on physical activity, sleep, heart rate, and fluid samples to measure their stress response and see whether the meditation helped. The goal is to keep astronauts heading on long space missions to the Moon or Mars healthier.

“The health of the crew is one of the top priorities. Particularly the psychological and immune health. One of the ways immune health can be improved and immune, just regulation, can be prevented is by employing stress-reduction measures,” said Melissa VanderKaay Tomasulo, an associate professor of psychology and director of the neuroscience program at St. Michael’s College.

They’re still waiting on data from some of the samples they took, so it’s too early to tell how the virtual reality meditation helped. They also hope their work will lead to breakthroughs in stress reduction techniques that could be used to help first responders and others who face chronic stress on the job.

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