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Mindfulness and compassion sessions linked to reduced symptoms of mental health issues

Mindfulness and compassion sessions linked to reduced symptoms of mental health issues

Reduce stress, depression, anxiety

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(Web Desk) - Compassion, often a key element in mindfulness routines, has been linked to reduced feelings of loneliness.

While single-session interventions (SSIs) have shown promise in addressing issues like depression, substance abuse, and anxiety, there's been limited exploration of their effectiveness in alleviating loneliness.

Recent studies indicate that SSIs could be beneficial for managing distress related to COVID-19. A novel mindfulness-based SSI was examined to determine if the inclusion of compassion exercises resulted in more significant reductions in loneliness and associated mental health challenges.

The study involved three distinct groups, structured akin to a game. The first group practiced mindfulness, the second group engaged in both mindfulness and compassion exercises, while the third group served as a control and did not participate in any interventions. 

Each participant underwent evaluation three times: at the onset of the study, one week after commencing the interventions (or waiting period), and again two weeks later. Data collection spanned from May 25, 2020, to November 26, 2021.

Interestingly, after one week, neither intervention showed significant reductions in loneliness compared to the waitlist group. Moreover, after two weeks, there were no discernible differences between the active programs.

However, by the end of the two-week period, both intervention groups exhibited a slight decrease in loneliness. Yet, further investigation is necessary to ascertain whether this decline is attributable to the interventions or occurs naturally over time, as a control group is essential for reference.

Subsequent analyses unveiled that, in contrast to the waitlist group, participants in the mindfulness with compassion intervention reported notable reductions in stress, despair, and anxiety after one week, whereas the mindfulness-only group did not. However, there were no disparities between the two mindfulness groups after one or two weeks.

 This suggests that, compared to no intervention, a one-hour mindfulness program incorporating a compassion component may alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression. As is customary with short-term interventions, the effects observed were modest compared to studies employing longer interventions.

The brief duration of the compassion segment (5–10 minutes) may account for the lack of disparities between the mindfulness groups. Future research could explore the efficacy of longer compassion components to ascertain whether they yield greater improvements in stress and loneliness.

Researchers noted, “These findings suggest that a single session mindfulness intervention can lead to meaningful reductions across a range of clinical concerns, including perceived stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. This brief single-session mindfulness intervention offers an approach that can be easily adopted in a range of contexts.”