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Summary: Mindful meditation helps perfectionists cope with stress.
Mindfulness meditation with a focus on nonjudgment of emotions may help perfectionists recover from stress, according to a study published in Psychophysiology.
The study used high-frequency heart rate variability to measure recovery from stress during mindfulness meditation sessions in 120 university students who scored high on a screening tool for perfectionism–the need to be or appear perfect.
Mindfulness meditation sessions that incorporated a nonjudgment element–or awareness and acceptance–led to better recovery compared with general mindfulness meditation sessions.
“This study extends the findings of mindfulness researchers and suggests the potential importance of nonjudgment of emotions and experiences during mindfulness practice for perfectionists,” said lead author Hannah Koerten, MA, of Bowling Green State University.
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Original Research: Closed access “Cardiovascular effects of brief mindfulness meditation among perfectionists experiencing failure”. Hannah R. Koerten, Tanya S. Watford, Eric F. Dubow, William H. O’Brien. Psychophysiology doi:10.1111/psyp.13517.
Cardiovascular effects of brief mindfulness meditation among perfectionists experiencing failure
Research links perfectionism, the tendency to hold and pursue unrealistically high standards, to negative mental health outcomes such as eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. Previous research used high frequency heart rate variability (HF‐HRV) to measure recovery from stress during a mindfulness meditation in perfectionistic university students and found that only nonperfectionists demonstrated HF‐HRV recovery from stress, suggesting that mindfulness was not effective for perfectionists. However, the mindfulness meditation did not incorporate a nonjudgment element, which may be a key component for perfectionists. In the current study, we examined whether mindfulness with a focus on nonjudgment helps university student perfectionists (n = 120) recover from failure (measured by heart rate (HR), HF‐HRV, pNN50). Students were randomly assigned to one of four meditation groups: nonjudgment mindfulness, general mindfulness (i.e., attentional awareness without a nonjudgment component), progressive muscle relaxation, and nothing. Cardiac data were recorded during a 5‐min baseline, failure task, and 10‐min meditation session. HR results suggest that both mindfulness conditions and “nothing” encouraged cardiovascular recovery, but that the mindfulness conditions showed even further recovery during the last five minutes of the meditations. HF‐HRV results indicated that participants in the nonjudgment mindfulness condition had marginally higher HF‐HRV during the last five minutes of the meditation than at baseline, while participants in the other conditions did not. Therefore, mindfulness with a focus on nonjudgment of emotions may be especially important to help perfectionists improve HF‐HRV after failure.
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