Mindfulness and Coping with Stress: Do Levels of Perceived Stress Matter?

Abstract

Few studies have explored whether mindfulness facilitates more adaptive coping with stress, and the evidence for this is mixed. It may be that mindfulness influences coping responses only among relatively stressed individuals, but this has not been tested. Two randomized controlled experiments (Study 1, N = 204; Study 2, N = 202) tested whether a brief mindfulness induction enhances coping among adults and whether perceived stress moderates these effects. In Study 1, we found that a mindfulness induction produced less self-reported avoidance coping but only among relatively stressed individuals. In Study 2, a mindful acceptance induction produced more approach and less avoidance coping than relaxation and self-affirmation controls, and these effects were strongest among individuals reporting high levels of perceived stress. These findings suggest that perceived stress is an important moderator of the influence of mindfulness upon coping responses.

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Donald, J.N., Atkins, P.W.B. Mindfulness and Coping with Stress: Do Levels of Perceived Stress Matter?. Mindfulness 7, 1423–1436 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0584-y

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Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • Perceived stress
  • Approach coping
  • Avoidance coping
  • Acceptance
  • Randomized controlled trial