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In Stress and Coping

Mindfulness is the future of being present

Mindfulness has occupied a central point in modern life. Probably, you are one of the many who is using this technique to deal with your high-paces, overstretched schedules. And this is not surprising because mindfulness has now become an accepted adjunct therapy for many conditions, especially in the field of mental health. Its pupillarity makes researchers refining the understanding of the power of paying attention in some of life’s most important moments .

For all the research showing the benefits of mindfulness in treating such conditions as anxiety, depression and chronic pain, it stays unclear how exactly mindfulness works. David Creswell, associate professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, found that learning to sit with unpleasant experiences and explore them without judgment may be the key to reducing stress. Creswell and his team call it “monitor and acceptance theory”.

The capacity to be open and accepting, even if the experience is difficult, seems to be a critical driver of the stress-reduction benefits we see with mindfulness interventions,

says Creswell.

Nowadays, most people are learning to be present in the physical world through their digital devices. Zindel Segal, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto has reported that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy that is delivered online has a similar effect to the one done face-to-face which has been shown to be protective against relapsing of depressive symptoms.

However, Segal warns that any app is a fairly unregulated space. Anyone who know how to program can make an app offering mindfulness as a therapeutic tool.

When it comes to mental health, the dimensions of mindfulness that are incrementally valuable are the ones that allow people to observe their thinking and tolerate distress… but [the apps] are not the full measure of what mindfulness can do for mental health,

says Segal.

Nevertheless, researchers are investigating the effectiveness of evidence-based mindfulness interventions delivered through a screen. If not for mental dysfunctions, digital mindfulness programs are shown to be useful for stress reduction. The meta-analysis performed by a team with David Creswell, has revealed a small but significant effect of brief mindfulness training on reducing negative affectivity compared to control programs. It means that apps that offer brief mindfulness training programs might reduce he experience of negative emotions and poor self-concept – the side-effects of stress exposure.

Sources:

Creswell, J.D. (2017). Mindfulness InterventionsAnnual Review of Psychology, 68, 491-516.

Segal, Z. (2004). Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression. Video.

Schumer, M.C., Lindsay, E. K., and Creswell, J. David (2018). Brief mindfulness training for negative affectivity: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 86(7), 569-583. 

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