Posted 03.19.2019 | by AMRA
Loneliness and social isolation are major risk factors for poor health and increased mortality. Additionally, U.S. loneliness ratings have steadily risen in recent decades. Mindfulness could potentially mitigate this problem by enhancing emotional regulation, thereby improving social relationships.
Lindsay et al. [Proceedings of the National Academy of Science] conducted a randomized controlled study to see if training in mindful attention to sensory and mental experience, both with and without instructions to adopt an accepting attitude towards experience, helps to reduce feelings of loneliness and increase the frequency of social interactions.
The researchers randomly assigned 153 adults reporting higher than average stress levels (67% female; 52% Caucasian; average age = 32) to one of three groups. Participants in each group agreed to watch and listen to fourteen 20-minute lessons delivered via smartphone over the course of two weeks. The lessons all contained a combination of didactic instruction and guided exercises.
Participants in the Monitoring + Acceptance (M+A) group received training in present moment awareness plus training in accepting experience with openness, receptivity, and equanimity. Participants in the Monitoring Only (MO) group received training in present moment awareness without training in acceptance. Those in a third Coping control group received instruction on how to reflect on, analyze, and solve problems.
Participants rated how lonely they felt and recorded their daily social contacts and how many different people they interacted with in diaries completed three days before and three days after the intervention. Participants also reported their immediate feelings of loneliness and real-time social interactions multiple times a day via cellphone (a procedure called “ecological momentary assessment”). Finally, participants completed standardized retrospective self-report measures of loneliness, social isolation, and […]