Mindfulness Increases Resiliency During a Pandemic
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“These are trying times, but incorporating mindful practices into your daily routine can help calm anxiety and build healthy coping skills.” – Rae Jacobson
Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being in healthy individuals. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the mental and physical health of the population. It has created intense stress both for frontline workers but also for people simply isolating at home. Mindfulness is known to decrease the psychological and physical responses to stress. So, mindfulness training may be helpful in coping with the mental and physical challenges resulting from the lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In today’s Research News article “Effects of Physical Activity and Mindfulness on Resilience and Depression During the First Wave of COVID-19 Pandemic..” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.700742/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1696300_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210803_arts_A ) Antonini and colleagues used emails to recruit adults who were engaged in either exercise or mindfulness practice during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in Switzerland. They had them complete measures of resilience and depression at two different times during the lockdown.
They found that mindfulness practitioners had significantly lower resilience than exercisers and that had women had significantly lower resilience and greater depression than men. They also found that the resilience of the mindfulness group significantly increased from the first to the second measurement while the exercisers did not. But the depression of the exercise group significantly declined from the first to the second measurement while the mindfulness group did not. Overall, the higher the levels of resilience the lower the levels of depression at both measurement times.
These are interesting results but are correlational, so no conclusions regarding causation can be reached. The results suggest that resilience tends to counteract depression. They also suggest that mindfulness practitioners are initially less resilient during a stressful time than exercisers but that they increase in resilience as the lockdown continues. On the other hand, exercisers decrease in depression over the same period of time.
Dealing with a public health emergency lockdown can be extremely stressful and requires resilience in the face of the stress to effectively deal with it. Mindfulness appears to allow for a growth in resilience making the practitioners better able to cope. On the other hand, exercise appears to help with the depression resulting from the lockdown. Unfortunately, they did not look at mindfulness practitioners who were also exercisers to observe if the combination has additive benefits.
So, mindfulness increases resiliency during a pandemic.
“mindfulness meditation might be a viable low-cost intervention to mitigate the psychological impact of the COVID-19 crisis and future pandemics.” – Julie Lei Zhu
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Antonini Philippe R, Schwab L and Biasutti M (2021) Effects of Physical Activity and Mindfulness on Resilience and Depression During the First Wave of COVID-19 Pandemic. Front. Psychol. 12:700742. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.700742
The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic generated a significant number of stressors that the Swiss population had to deal with. In order to cope with and adapt to such adversity, it is essential to have protective factors that allow for resilience. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of mindfulness and physical activity on depression and resilience during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. A quantitative method was adopted asking participants who were engaged in physical activity or mindfulness to fill a battery of measures of depression and resilience and some demographic questions. The results showed that mindfulness practice strengthened the initial level of resilience of practitioners, suggesting that mindfulness meditation is a tool for coping with adversity during a potentially traumatic event. Conversely, physical activity practitioners maintained a stable resilience score over time, suggesting that exposure to adversity did not disrupt their state of biopsychospiritual homeostasis. Moreover, being physically active decreased the depression score over time. Regarding demographic variables, gender differences were observed in the average scores in the resilience scale and in the Depression Inventory.