08 Apr Mindfulness Important for Adapting to Age-Related Challenges
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
PhD (Clinical Psychology) Candidate
College of Education, Psychology and Social Work
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Mindfulness can be instrumental in reducing stress and promoting positive psychological outcomes. However, few studies have considered the positive effects of mindfulness on psychological functioning from a lifespan perspective.
Our research aimed to examine the role of age in the relationships between specific aspects of mindfulness and psychological flexibility and well-being.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: The findings showed that attending to the present moment and adopting a nonjudgmental orientation toward experiences was linked with specific mindfulness-related qualities (e.g., acceptance and viewing things from a broader perspective) that were, in turn, linked with flexible coping with change and perceptions of well-being.
We also found that most aspects of mindfulness were positively associated with age. Interestingly, the results indicate a possible turning point in mid-life where well-being becomes more strongly linked with appreciation for and engagement with the here-and-now (as opposed to focusing on the past or the future), as well as the ability to move away from judging experiences as necessarily ‘good or bad’, than is the case in emerging adulthood.
The findings are important because mindful characteristics may represent psychological qualities that require relatively modest investment of physiological and cognitive resources and can be targeted in interventions designed to enhance well-being in later adulthood.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Our research shows that certain characteristics of mindfulness are more strongly evident among older, relative to younger people, suggesting that mindfulness may naturally develop with time and life experience. Also, some mindfulness characteristics may become especially important for well-being with advancing age. For example, the ability to focus on the present-moment and to approach experiences in a nonjudgmental way may become increasingly important for adapting to age-related challenges and generating positive emotions. This suggests that training designed to develop mindfulness-based skills could be particularly effective for enhancing well-being in middle-age and later life.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Our research demonstrates the value of considering the significance of mindfulness for well-being within a lifespan developmental perspective. Future research could examine potential mechanisms within the relationships between age and mindful qualities (e.g., motivational preferences and stress exposure). Future mindfulness-based intervention studies should incorporate samples with a broad age-range so that treatment effects can be evaluated across different developmental contexts.
Leeann Mahlo, Tim D. Windsor. Older and more mindful? Age differences in mindfulness components and well-being. Aging & Mental Health, 2020; 1 DOI: 10.1080/13607863.2020.1734915
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