The effect of short-term practice of mindfulness meditation in alleviating stress in university students.

Biomedical Research. 2011;22(2):165-171

Author

Myint K, Choy KL, Su TT, Lam SK

Institution

(1) Department of Physiology, (2)Department of Molecular Medicine, and (3)Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Abstract

Although mindfulness meditation practice appears to confer positive effects on various clini-cal conditions, physiological responses to this practice in healthy individuals are largely un-known. This study is aimed at evaluating the physiological effects of short-term mindfulness meditation in university students intending to take a written term examination. Young healthy university students (n=18) recruited as participants were divided equally into a me-ditation group without examination stress, a non-meditating group with examination stress, and a meditation group with examination stress. The meditation intervention groups were offered mindfulness practice twice daily of 1 h each time for a period of 5 weekdays, except for weekends, for 3 consecutive weeks. The parameters measured included heart rate, blood pressure and serum cortisol. Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) were also obtained to monitor any negative psychological symptoms. All parameters were measured before inter-vention, just after intervention, which also coincided with the eve of the academic examina-tion and at 3 weeks after. The DASS-Stress scale was significantly (p<0.05) reduced after in-tervention in the meditation group with no examination challenge. However, no significant changes were found in the cardiovascular and cortisol outcomes amongst all groups for all time lines. Even though these findings did not show any significant physiological responses to the short-term mindfulness practice in stressful conditions, nonetheless, the results dem-onstrate the potential benefits of this practice in alleviating stress in the neutral environment of university students. Future studies should address the effects of mindfulness practice in larger groups exposed in stressful situations.

Biomedical Research


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