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Cultivating emotional well-being in students: Effects of a brief mindfulness meditation intervention on everyday mindfulness, emotion regulation and affective states

Thomson, Charlene (2011) Cultivating emotional well-being in students: Effects of a brief mindfulness meditation intervention on everyday mindfulness, emotion regulation and affective states.

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Abstract

Undergraduate students are vulnerable to mental health problems throughout their academic studies (Bewick et al., 2010). Research suggests that the manner in which individuals respond to and modulate emotion (emotion regulation; ER) plays an important role in the development and maintenance of emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression (Chambers et al., 2009). Shapiro (2009) proposes that mindfulness meditation (MM) is one method of teaching students how to adaptively regulate their emotions, However, research has yet to elucidate the mechanisms of action through which MM exerts its beneficial effects. This study randomised forty undergraduate students aged 18-24 to three weekly sessions of MM or an active control condition. Concomitant changes in self-reported everyday mindfulness, ER difficulties, and positive and negative affect were assessed. Despite no condition effects on self-reported negative affect, meditators reported significant increases in everyday mindfulness and positive affect and significantly reduced ER difficulties. Research exploring the short-term effects of MM on ER and affective states is new but promising. This research demonstrates that MM can enhance the emotional well-being of students and thus supports theoretical stances claiming that MM may initially exerts its effects by increasing positive affect and reducing difficulties in ER (Garland et al., 2010).

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