Socio-Cognitive Mindfulness is Associated with Better Emotions and Their Regulation in Nursing Students
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“Mindfulness enables you to become a more cognizant observer of your experience, allowing you to become more “tuned in” to what you are feeling inside.” – Laura K. Schenck
Mindfulness practice has been shown to improve emotion regulation. Practitioners demonstrate the ability to fully sense and experience emotions but respond to them in more appropriate and adaptive ways. In other words, mindful people are better able to experience yet control their responses to emotions. This is a very important consequence of mindfulness. Humans are very emotional creatures, and these emotions can be very pleasant, providing the spice of life. But when they get extreme, they can produce misery and even mental illness. The ability of mindfulness training to improve emotion regulation is thought to be the basis for a wide variety of benefits that mindfulness provides to mental health and the treatment of mental illness especially depression and anxiety disorders.
Mindfulness can be divided into two different aspects. Meditation mindfulness emphasizes focusing on what is occurring right now without judgement. On the other hand, socio-cognitive mindfulness emphasizes openness to external stimuli allowing for flexible interactions with the environment. It would be expected that socio-cognitive mindfulness with its flexibility in interpreting external events in particular would underlie improvements in emotion regulation.
In today’s Research News article “Mediating Effects of Emotion Regulation between Socio-Cognitive Mindfulness and Achievement Emotions in Nursing Students.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8464977/ ) Lee and Jang recruited healthy college nursing students and had them complete questionnaires measuring reappraisal and suppression emotion regulation, positive and negative achievement emotions, and socio-cognitive mindfulness, including novelty seeking, novelty producing, flexibility, and engagement.
They found that the higher the levels of all components of socio-cognitive mindfulness the higher the levels of emotion reappraisal and positive achievement emotions and the lower the levels of negative achievement emotions. Linear structural modelling revealed that all components of socio-cognitive mindfulness were significantly positively related to positive achievement emotions directly and also indirectly by having a positive relationship with emotion reappraisal that in turn was associated with higher levels of positive achievement emotions. In addition, all components of socio-cognitive mindfulness were significantly negatively related to negative achievement emotions directly while only the engagement component also was associated indirectly by having a negative relationship with emotion suppression that in turn was associated with lower levels of negative achievement emotions.
These results are correlational and as such causation cannot be concluded. But previous controlled research has demonstrated that mindfulness training improves emotions and their regulation. So, the present findings likely resulted from mindfulness producing improved achievement emotions.
An interesting facet of the current study is that it focused on socio-cognitive mindfulness which promotes a flexible approach to the environment. This flexibility is seen in the reappraisal of emotions to better reflect reality and in turn making emotions less extreme both positively and negatively. This would predict that the students would be better able to cope with the stresses of their education and future nursing careers. This suggests that mindfulness training should be included in nursing education.
So, socio-cognitive mindfulness is associated with better emotions and their regulation in nursing students.
“With [mindfulness meditation] training or practice . . . we become more able to allow disturbing emotions and thoughts to pass through awareness. We develop the ability to NOT act or react to every emotion or thought we have.” – Timothy A Pychy
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Lee, M., & Jang, K. S. (2021). Mediating Effects of Emotion Regulation between Socio-Cognitive Mindfulness and Achievement Emotions in Nursing Students. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 9(9), 1238. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare9091238
Background: Mindfulness is known as an effective emotion regulation strategy and is beneficial for improving emotions. While meditative mindfulness has been widely studied, socio-cognitive mindfulness has received little attention in nursing literature, despite its potential benefits to the field. This study investigated relationships between nursing students’ socio-cognitive mindfulness, emotion regulation (reappraisal and suppression), and achievement emotions, and explored the mediating effects of emotion regulation. Methods: A total of 459 nursing students from three universities in Korea completed the questionnaire measuring the study variables. Structural equation modeling and path analysis were conducted to test the hypotheses. Results: Socio-cognitive mindfulness was found to positively influence reappraisal while negatively influencing suppression. Additionally, socio-cognitive mindfulness positively predicted positive achievement emotions but negatively predicted negative emotions. Reappraisal positively influenced positive emotions, whereas suppression positively influenced negative emotions. Furthermore, reappraisal mediated the link between mindfulness and positive emotions, and suppression mediated the link between mindfulness and negative emotions. Conclusions: Socio-cognitive mindfulness may be effective in regulating emotions among nursing students by enhancing reappraisal and reducing suppression. Mediating effects highlight the relevance of students’ emotion regulation in nursing education, suggesting the need to develop emotion regulation education programs.