Better living through mindfulness: Study connects traits of mindfulness to emotional well-being

March 7, 2013, University of Utah

A new study from the University of Utah shows that individuals who describe themselves as being more mindful have more stable emotions and perceive themselves to have better control over their mood and behavior throughout the day. Higher mindful people also describe less cognitive and physiological activation before bedtime, suggesting that greater emotional stability during the day might even translate into better sleep. The study results will be presented later this month at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society.

Prior studies of mindfulness— in a particular way, on purpose in the and non-judgmentally—have typically been conducted with participants trained in mindfulness, for example or other interventions. In contrast, this study examines naturally-occurring traits of mindfulness. Using a novel method for data collection, the participants wore a monitor that measured cardiac functioning and were prompted periodically throughout the day to rate their emotional state and mental functioning. Examining these processes during normal daily living builds on prior mindfulness research conducted in laboratory-controlled settings.

"This study gives us a better understanding of how mindfulness affects stress responses throughout the day," says Holly Rau, a involved with this research. "People who reported higher levels of mindfulness described better control over their emotions and behaviors during the day. In addition, higher mindfulness was associated with lower activation at , which could have benefits for sleep quality and future ability to manage stress."

How the study was conducted:

A total of 38 subjects, recruited from the community and University of Utah undergraduate psychology courses, participated in the study. They ranged in age from 20 to 45, and one-third were male. On the first day of the study, each participant completed a baseline assessment that included standard questionnaires, resting physiological assessment, and cognitive testing before beginning two days of experience sampling.

In the daily life portion of the study, participants wore a cardiac impedance monitor and responded to questions about their several times a day for two days. At the end of each day, participants also completed about their ability to regulate their emotions and behaviors and were asked to rate their level of cognitive and physical arousal before falling asleep.

Researchers found that greater emotional stability, better self-rated control of emotions and behaviors and lower pre-sleep arousal (a measurement of cognitive and physical symptoms of anxiety) were all significantly associated with higher trait mindfulness. Results suggest that mindfulness may be linked to self-regulation throughout the day, and that this may be an important way that mindfulness contributes to better emotional and physical well-being.

Future research will examine the link between moment-to-moment mindfulness, physiological markers of stress throughout the day and sleep quality. Examination of similar measures of mood, self-regulation and sleep quality in everyday life in the context of mindfulness intervention is another important direction for research.

Explore further: Don't worry, be happy -- understanding mindfulness meditation

Related Stories

Don't worry, be happy -- understanding mindfulness meditation

October 31, 2011
In times of stress, we're often encouraged to pause for a moment and simply be in the 'now.' This kind of mindfulness, an essential part of Buddhist and Indian Yoga traditions, has entered the mainstream as people try to ...

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy beneficial in diabetes

December 11, 2012
(HealthDay)—For patients with diabetes and low levels of emotional well-being, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) improves emotional distress and health-related quality of life, according to a study published online ...

UA psychology professor seeks relief for chronic headache sufferers

May 10, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Dr. Beverly Thorn, chair of The University of Alabama's psychology department, is seeking volunteers for a key study into how "mindfulness meditation" can help manage chronic pain from headaches.

More than good vibes: Researchers propose the science behind mindfulness

October 30, 2012
Achieving mindfulness through meditation has helped people maintain a healthy mind by quelling negative emotions and thoughts, such as desire, anger and anxiety, and encouraging more positive dispositions such as compassion, ...

Breast cancer survivors benefit from practicing Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction

December 29, 2011
Women recently diagnosed with breast cancer have higher survival rates than those diagnosed in previous decades, according to the American Cancer Society. However, survivors continue to face health challenges after their ...

Recommended for you

Kids show adult-like intuition about ownership

May 22, 2018
Children as young as age three are able to make judgements about who owns an object based on its location, according to a study from the University of Waterloo.

Age-related racial disparity in suicide rates among US youth

May 21, 2018
New research suggests the suicide rate is roughly two times higher for black children ages 5-12 compared with white children of the same age group. The study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), appears ...

Schizophrenia more prevalent away from green spaces

May 21, 2018
People who grew up without green spaces are 50 per cent more likely to develop schizophrenia compared with those who grew up surrounded by greenery.

Cannabis—it matters how young you start

May 18, 2018
Canadian researchers find that boys who start smoking pot before 15 are much more likely to have a drug problem at 28 than those who start at 15 or after.

Long legs turn women's heads, arm length immaterial: study

May 16, 2018
Labouring over the age-old question "What do women look for in men?", scientists added an item to the list Wednesday: legs slightly longer than average, with a good shin-to-thigh ratio.

Elevated homocysteine identified as metabolic risk factor for neurodegenerative diseases

May 16, 2018
The amino acid homocysteine occurs naturally in the human body, generated as a byproduct of methionine metabolism. Genetic diseases or an imbalanced diet, with too much red meat or deficiencies in B vitamins and folic acid, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.