Why mindfulness might NOT be as good as it seems: Review finds no evidence that popular, popular program increases happiness
Modern mindfulness practices beloved by Hollywood celebrities may do nothing to boost your happiness, a scientific review has found.
Canadian experts analyzed 57 high-quality studies on five popularly recommended ways to increase happiness, including meditation and mindfulness.
Other methods tested included exercising, expressing gratitude, being more sociable, and immersing yourself in nature.
While some evidence showed that gratitude and being social worked, the experts found that none of the other three tactics held up to scrutiny.
Academics from the University of British Columbia said the purported benefits of mindfulness courses might actually stem from participants feeling less alone when taking part in the classes, rather than an intrinsic lift in mood.
Mindfulness may not be the mental health revolution, as a scientific review of the evidence found the evidence that it increases happiness is weak (file image)
Mindfulness is a popular form of meditation among the likes of Emma Watson, Katy Perry, Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey, and Novak Djokovic.
It uses controlled breathing exercises along with guided imagery to supposedly relax the body and mind and reduce stress.
While it’s often touted as an easy way to improve your mental well-being, the authors who conducted the review found that these benefits are likely oversold.
writing in the diary Nature Human BehaviorThey stated that many of the putative benefits observed in the experiments could be explained by other factors.
They used an example of a weekly mindfulness scheme conducted over two years for older people in Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, and Myanmar.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a popular form of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you are feeling and feeling in the moment.
The practice includes breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.
It is often touted as a universal tool to boost mental well-being by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.
Mindfulness has become popular in recent years as a way to improve mental and physical well-being.
Celebrities who endorse him include Emma Watson, Davina McCall, Angelina Jolie, and Oprah Winfrey.
The involved participants had nearly three times the life satisfaction of those who did not, a result the reviewers called “implausibly large.” Instead, they said this could be due to the reduction in loneliness that the weekly classes brought to older people.
Another study of more than 200 Canadian university students had similar problems.
“The present review reveals that some of the most frequently recommended strategies for increasing happiness rest on a weak evidence base,” the researchers said.
Similar problems were found in studies related to exercise and happiness, even though physical activity is often recommended to improve mood.
They found that most studies only compared exercise to control groups in which people engaged in activities such as footage of people exercising or documentaries.
The researchers added: “It is unclear whether exercise would be better than watching a popular show on Netflix.”
The review authors said that while practices such as mindfulness would not directly harm any patient, they still needed to be tested and supported.
“It’s important to recognize that some happiness strategies, such as meditation programs, require a considerable amount of time and energy, which for many people is limited,” they said.
Harry Potter star Emma Watson (pictured here at Wimbledon earlier this month) and Hollywood star and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees envoy Angelina Jolie are both advocates of mindfulness.
Talk show host Oprah Winfrey has said she believes mindfulness helps people “be there” for loved ones (pictured here at the ESSENCE Culture Festival in June), while Katy Perry has suggested she would have quit the music industry without the technique.
Tennis player Novak Djokovic has said that he used mindfulness as part of his mental training regimen as an athlete.
“And if these strategies are presented as strongly supported by scientific evidence, people may become discouraged when the strategies fail to improve their own well-being.
“More generally, the credibility of the science may also be hampered if these strategies are recommended with an exuberance that exceeds existing empirical evidence.”