Mindfulness is linked to self-regulation throughout the day, and that this may be an important way that mindfulness contributes to better emotional and physical well-being in our daily life or lifestyle.
A new study from the University of Utah shows that individuals who describe themselves as being more mindful have more stable emotions and perceive themselves to have better control over their mood and behavior throughout the day. Higher mindful people also describe less cognitive and physiological activation before bedtime, suggesting that greater emotional stability during the day might even translate into better sleep.
Prior studies of mindfulness—paying attention in a particular way, on purpose in the present moment and non-judgmentally—have typically been conducted with participants trained in mindfulness, for example meditation or other interventions. In contrast, this study examines naturally-occurring traits of mindfulness.
Using a novel method for data collection, the participants wore a monitor that measured cardiac functioning and were prompted periodically throughout the day to rate their emotional state and mental functioning. Examining these processes during normal daily living builds on prior mindfulness research conducted in laboratory-controlled settings.
“This study gives us a better understanding of how mindfulness affects stress responses throughout the day,” says Holly Rau, a graduate student involved with this research.
People who reported higher levels of mindfulness described better control over their emotions and behaviors during the day.
In addition, higher mindfulness was associated with lower activation at bedtime, which could have benefits for sleep quality and future ability to manage stress.