(2 minute read)
News updates and regular posts about undesirable or unfortunate events can have a detrimental effect on our stress levels and our mental health.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way!
A new study published in the journal Psychological Research, identifies the practise of mindfulness as an ideal strategy for resetting our mindset whenever we’re feeling stressed.
Research findings uncovered that as little as 10 minutes a day of meditation can be beneficial.
During May 2020, researchers recruited participants, to participate in a 10-day mindfulness course. Thirty-two people were asked to meditate for at least 10 minutes a day on the mindfulness (sing an app available on their smartphone). They were free to choose which meditations to apply and could meditate for longer than 10 minutes if they chose to do so.
The researchers found that participants who completed the mindfulness training course reported higher levels of positive emotions, both at the end of the study and during the daily assessments. The select mindfulness practises seemed to decrease the negative effects of hearing bad news.
The researchers conducted daily surveys during which participants in a control group (who didn’t meditate) reported a more negative emotional state if they had recently been exposed to news about the recent Covid pandemic. However, for participants who completed the mindfulness training, their emotions on the daily surveys were not affected by their news consumption.
Julia Kam, Assistant Professor of psychology at the University of Calgary, suggests several possible explanations.
One is that mindfulness enhances our capacity to monitor and manage our emotional and physiological responses to stressors, so that the news is less likely to activate our fight-or-flight system.
Another is that mindfulness might help us recover from stressors more quickly—so our emotional response system doesn’t stay in a heightened state for as long after receiving any bad news.
Mindfulness in a Minute – Courtesy of Kaiser Permanente
- Sit up straight, but not stiffly, in a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
- Place your hands in a balanced position and close your eyes.
- Focus on your breathing, as you follow each breath in and out.
- After 1 minute (or longer), gradually open your eyes and resume activities.
(View or download this simple meditation exercise, with a cool diagram outlining each step.)