Category: Adult Anxiety
Mindfulness has received increased attention in recent decades and has subsequently been incorporated into treatments for anxiety disorders (Didonna, 2009). Clinical trials indicate that mindfulness effectively reduces anxiety (e.g., Roemer & Orsillo, 2007), and laboratory studies have supported the effect of mindful breathing compared to other relaxation strategies (e.g., progressive muscle relaxation; Lancaster, Klein, & Heifner, 2016; Villa & Hilt, 2014). Although these studies contribute to the understanding of mindfulness, few have compared the efficacy of specific mindfulness interventions used within broader treatment packages. This limitation restricts the understanding of components that contribute to improvements in mindfulness and subsequent reductions in anxiety. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to examine the effect of two mindfulness exercises, specifically a mindful breathing and body scan meditations, on state mindfulness and cognitive and somatic symptoms of anxiety. It was hypothesized that both interventions would lead to increases in state mindfulness (curiosity and decentering). Further, consistent with the cognitive-somatic specificity hypothesis (Davidson et al., 1976), it was also hypothesized that there would be greater reductions in cognitive symptoms of anxiety in the mindful breathing group, while a body scan would be associated with greater reductions in somatic symptoms.
The sample included 93 undergraduates (Mage = 19.0 [1.4]; 52.2% female). To induce state anxiety, participants focused on anxiety related self-statements while listening to anxiety-inducing music. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions, mindful breathing or mindful body scan, and completed the State-Trait Inventory of Cognitive and Somatic Anxiety (Ree et al., 2008) and the Toronto Mindfulness Scale (Lau et al., 2006) at baseline and pre- and post-mindfulness tasks.
Result indicated that both cognitive, t(102) = -2.37, p = .02, and somatic anxiety, t(102) = -2.23, p = .028, increased in response to the anxiety induction. Four 2 (group) × 2 (time) mixed design ANOVAs were conducted to test the effects of the mindfulness tasks on cognitive and somatic anxiety and components of state mindfulness. The within-subjects effect of time was significant for cognitive anxiety, F(1, 97) = 66.96; p < .001, somatic anxiety, F(1, 97) = 88.18; p < .001, and decentering, F(1, 102) = 7.17; p = .009. In contrast, there was no significant effect of time on curiosity, F(1, 102) = .004, p = .951. There was no significant time × group interaction, indicating that condition did not effect changes in mindfulness or anxiety.
These findings suggest that both mindfulness interventions produce significant and similar reductions in state anxiety. The results indicate that a single session of mindfulness is associated with greater decentering, but not curiosity. These findings provide additional support for the continued dissemination and implementation of mindfulness interventions for diverse presentations of anxiety. Future directions, implications, and limitations will be discussed.
Keith Klein– Graduate Student, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois
Shelby Yanez– Undergraduate Research Assistant, Southern Illinois University - Carbondale
Eva K. Harris– Graduate Assistant, Southern Illinois University - Carbondale
Benjamin Rodriguez– Associate Professor, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale