18 January 2024 • AlumsResearchSTEM Self-Care in the Post-Covid Era By Andrew Wickenden '09

HWS psychology research sheds light on the impact of physical activity and self-compassion on overall wellbeing during the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

A recent study by Professor of Psychological Science Jamie Bodenlos and Hudson Cunningham-Baker ’23 examines the burgeoning literature focused on physical activity (PA) and self-compassion (SC), noting gaps in existing research and areas that future research might explore further. Their article, “Physical Activity and Self-Compassion: A Systemic Review,” was published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine in December.

Bodenlos and Cunningham-Baker note that physical activity and mental health declined following the spread of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdowns. With the resulting spikes in anxiety and depression, they posit that a “better understanding of the subtleties/nuances in the relationship between PA and SC could have important clinical and public health implications.”

After reviewing recent literature exploring these topics in light of the pandemic, they conclude that while “there is still much to learn…the use of SC as a tool to improve PA” holds great promise.

Read the full article. 

Cunningham-Baker graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Psychology with Honors. As a student, he served as a research assistant, teaching fellow and study mentor in the HWS Department of Psychological Science. He is now a Child and Adolescent Clinical Fellow at McLean Hospital in Boston.

Bodenlos studies the psychology of behavioral medicine, mindfulness and health behaviors, including obesity, stress and sleep. She is the coauthor of the 2023 book Being the Change: A Guide for Advocates and Activists on Staying Healthy, Inspired, and Driven, which explores theories and tactics that empower activists working in organizations with social missions, and those involved in social change outside of their jobs.

The recipient of numerous research grants and awards, including the 2021 HWS Faculty Prize for Scholarship, Bodenlos recently earned fellow status with the Society of Behavioral Medicine in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the advancement of the science and practice of behavioral medicine. She has presented scholarship at national and international conferences and published more than 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, Mindfulness, Appetite, Obesity and the Journal of American College Health.

Her teaching interests align with her areas of research — psychopathology, health psychology and psychotherapy — encompassing topics like stress and illness, substance use disorders, mindfulness, eating behaviors and evidence-based treatment. A licensed New York State psychologist, Bodenlos earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Louisiana State University, M.A. from Western Carolina University and B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh.