More Mindfulness Research for Anxiety and Depression: Here's the Rub
I was recently excited to come across yet another study linking mindfulness to a reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression. As part of his doctoral thesis, Luis Carlos Delgado Pastor, supervised by professor Jaime Vila Castellar, of the department of Personality, Assessment and Psychological Treatment at the University of Granada, studied a group of 20 second education teachers and 20-girls with "high level concern." Both groups showed a decrease in symptoms of anxiety and depression.
This is a very logical outcome. Mindfulness is about nurturing the qualities of paying attention on purpose, kindness, compassion, balance and non-judgment.
These are all things that fly out the window in relation to anxiety or depression. We can also include ADHD or bipolar disorder for that matter (which each have research support as well).
Here's the rub with mindfulness: In much of the research, the follow up studies show that many people simply do not maintain the formal practices that they learned in the study. They do take away informal practices, meaning bringing mindfulness into the activities they do in daily life, which is still wonderful. To maintain the practice that brought the results of the research study, it actually takes effort and discipline and this is where many of us come up against resistance.
I was talking with a 72 year old woman the other day asking her what her secret was to waking up in the morning every day and exercising. She said that at some point she just understood that she needed to think of it just like she thinks about personal hygiene. She said, "I wake up every morning and I brush my teeth and take a shower, I think of exercise the same way."
This may be a good way of seeing mindfulness practice, a sort of mental floss, a part of personal mental hygiene we practice every day.
However, another support that people find is the most helpful is finding community. For many people, it's simply easier to engage a discipline like getting to the gym or going on a walk if they have a partner to do so with. For many, there may not be a partner so they bring along their IPODs.
We can learn from this too and find a community or friend that we can meet with in order to practice. Or, we can find a good CD that can guide and support us during practice.
At the end of the day, there is a surge of research showing the beneficial effects of mindfulness practice in respect to stress, anxiety, depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, etc..., but the important question here is how to maintain the practice.
Tip to start or maintain practice: Consider looking at it as a sort of mental floss and engage with a friend. If not a friend, get a CD to guide you and treat your time as you would a doctor's appointment. Try it out today!
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
EXACTLY - YEAHYEAH - Jan 15th 2011
Too true raping bastards scum of the Earth. Wouldn't piss in their ears to put a fire out of their brain.
medical negligence - Ricardo Matias - Feb 7th 2010
I'm a victim of medical negligence!
First you have to care - - Feb 4th 2010
Mindfulness, meditation, exercise, social activity - all of these things can help for a short time. I suffer from depression and have been on various antidepressants for years. Without the meds I can't function at all, but even with the meds, it's difficult sometimes to find the desire or energy to even take a shower or brush my teeth. I have good days, when I have high energy and feel good about myself. They are far outnumbered by days when I just don't care. My low self-esteem, despite therapy, "happy pills," self-help books, affirmations, whatever, just drags me down and keeps me in depression. I know what I need to do, but that old "you're no good,", "you're a fraud," "you'll never succeed at that" tape keeps me locked in procrastination and isolation. I hate it, but I keep reading articles like yours to remind me that there are things I can do that will help if I will get off my duff and do them. Right now I just don't have the energy. Thanks.