There is a high prevalence of stress in contemporary western societies. A Stress in AmericaTM survey reported that over two-thirds of the 2020 adult respondents from the general population experienced symptoms of stress(fatigue, irritability, changes in sleeping habits) (American Psychological Association 2013). Caltabiano, Sarafino, & Byrne (2008) stated that stress is a condition that results when an individual comprehends a discrepancy between demands of his situation and resources of his biological, social and psychological systems. As a response to stress the body releases hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol and gluco-and mineralocorticoids (Caltabiano et al, 2008;Tasker & Joëls, 2015). These physiological changes, as a result of persistent stress, can result in health problems such as elevated blood pressure and a dysregulated immune system (Schneiderman, Ironson, Siegel, 2005), memory problems (McEwen and Sapolsky, 1995), and mental illnesses such as depression (Hammen, 2004). Hence stress can negatively affect a person’s well-being, particularly their psychological well-being (Moeini, Shafii, Hidarnia, Babaii, Birashk, and Allahverdipour, 2008). Thus there is a crucial need for effective stress-reducing methods, given the increasing prevalence of stress. As stated by Henriques, Keffer, Abrahamson, & Horst (2011), what is needed is an intervention ‘‘that can be easily utilized by large numbers of people that are readily available, inexpensive and have minimal side effects’.
According to Ryff & Keyes (1995) and Shevelenkova and Fesenko (2005), psychological wellbeing is concerned with psychosocial functioning and psychological health. Research has shown that poor psychological wellbeing is linked to increased stress levels as well as depression, anxiety and a lower quality of life (Chu, & Richdale, 2009). Ho (1995) contradicts this research with findings that reported no differences between stressed and unstressed executives. However, even with majority of literature supporting Chu and Richdale;s (2009) research, there is a lack of research that focuses solely on stress and psychological well being.
A popular stress management method that has actually been tried in several scientific studies, albeit of changing quality, is mindfulness meditation. The term “mindfulness” has been used to refer to a psychological state of awareness, a practice that promotes this awareness, a mode of processing information, and a characterological trait (Germer, Siegel, & Fulton, 2005; Kostanski & Hassed, 2008). For the purposes of this paper mindfulness will be viewed as a state rather than a trait, that can be promoted by certain practices or activities (e.g. meditation). Long term interventions such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy have shown positive benefits; emotion regulation, decreased reactivity and increased response flexibility (Davis, & Hayes, 2011). In addition, it was found that individuals who participated in an eight week MBSR programme showed reduced stress and an improved psychological functioning (Carmody, & Baer,2008). However, research regarding brief and single-session mindfulness meditation is still in its initial stages and thus far has reported mixed findings. Johnson, Gur, David, & Currier (2015) reported that although 25 minute single session interventions improved moods, it failed to affect cognition. On the other hand, it was found that computer based mindfulness exercises could increase state mindfulness even though they lasted a maximum of 5 minutes (Mahmood, Hopthrow, & De Moura, 2016). A study conducted by Steffen and Larson (2015) corroborates this finding. In the study it was reported that stress-related blood pressure decreased after a 15 minute mindfulness session.
Hence it can be determined that there is a lack of research with regards to the benefits of brief mindfulness meditation and , specifically, its effect on stress and consequently psychological well being. This study will therefore examine whether brief, single session mindfulness meditation will affect stress levels and psychological well being. Thus it is hypothesised that single session mindfulness meditation (1) results in reduced stress levels, (2) enhances psychological wellbeing (scores).
A JCU ethics application will be completed prior to collection of data and will be submitted to the JCU ethics committee for approval. With regards to confidentiality, participants names will not be added once data is entered. Instead, a numeric code will replace participant names. Informed consent (Appendix A) and information sheets (Appendix B) will be allocated and participants will be made to sign them. Prior to the study, individuals will be informed of the non-mandatory nature of the study, and that an option to opt out of the study at any time is present.
Description of Procedure
Before the experiment begins the experimenter will use an online random assignment tool(www.graphpad.com) to decide which group a participant belongs to (A-Experiment, B-Control). Both groups of participants will then read the information sheet and sign the informed consent form, which will take approximately five minutes. Then participants will be separated into either the experimental condition or the control condition based on their assigned alphabet. The experimental group will meditate whilst listening to a guided mindfulness meditation video for five minutes. Participants will then experience the stressor. In order to induce stress, participants will be instructed to give a five minute speech on ‘Why their ideal partner should choose them as a mate’ in front of the experimenter and a confederate. Once the time is up, a saliva sample will be taken and the participant will complete the PWB scale questionnaire. This will take approximately 25 minutes. The entire procedure is expected to last 45 minutes. The control group will follow the same procedure, except instead of mindfulness meditation they will be asked to simply let their ‘mind wander’ [this aspect is similar to a procedure conducted by Mahmood et al. (2016)]. To avoid priming and self-selection into groups, the term ‘Mind Exercise’ will be used in the information sheet and consent form. ‘Mind Exercise’ refers to both mindfulness meditation and mind wandering.
Assumptions to be checked with SPSS
Multivariate/Univariate Outliers: There must be no multivariate or univariate outliers. Boxplots to be used to identify any univariate outliers. Multivariate outliers to be checked for using the Mahalanobis distance. The assumption is satisfied if obtained distance is less than the critical chi-square value. If obtained distance is greater than the critical chi-square value, remove outliers and retest assumption.
Multivariate Normality: Since samples are sufficiently large, Multivariate Central Limit Theorem holds and hence the multivariate normality assumption holds. If not, a Shapiro-Wilk test of normality will be run. If the test shows that none of the samples show a significant departure from normality, the assumption is satisfied.
- Linearity: For each data set, scatter plot matrices to be checked for line of best fit. If DV’s are linearly related, assumption of linearity is satisfied.
- Homogeneity: Observed covariance matrices for each group to be equal. Assumption to be tested using Box’s M test of equality of covariance. If the data fails this assumption, use SPSS Statistics to carry out Levene’s test of homogeneity of variance to determine if groups have equal variances. Assumption of homogeneity of variance-covariance matrices is satisfied if result is not significant.
- Multicollinearity: There is no multicollinearity. Dependent variables to be moderately correlated with each other. If the correlations are too high (greater than 0.9), there could be multicollinearity. Multicollinearity can be assessed by examining Variance Inflation Factor (VIF) and tolerance. For there to be an absence of multicollinearity, VIF must be less than 10 while tolerance must be above 0.1. The assumption is then satisfied.
One-way MANOVA Analysis
Firstly, the Multivariate Tests table will be examined to find the actual result of the one-way Manova. By looking at the Wilks’ Lambda value under the ‘Sig.’ column it will be possible to determine whether the one-way MANOVA was statistically significant. If the value is significant (p < .0005), it can be concluded that brief mindfulness meditation has an effect on stress and psychological well being. Secondly, the Tests of Between-Subjects Effects table, which contains multiple ANOVAs, will be examined. This is to check if brief mindfulness meditation has a significant effect on stress and psychological well being individually. It is important to note that an alpha correction should be made to account for the multiple ANOVAs being run. The alpha level has to be lowered to 0.025 for a Bonferroni correction to conduct a univariate F test for the effect of IV on each of the DV. Thirdly, if the univariate F test was significant (p < .025), it can be followed up with an examination of Tukey’s HSD post-hoc tests results in the Multiple Comparisons table to check the differences between the groups.
Should the results of the study be significant, after the one-way MANOVA analysis, hypothesis one would indicate lower stress levels for participants in the experimental group than the control group. And hypothesis two would indicate higher PWB scores for the experimental group than the control group. Thus an indication of this would be that brief single session mindfulness meditation reduces stress levels and enhances psychological wellbeing. As mentioned in the introduction of this paper, the current study would make further comment on the ongoing research regarding the benefits of brief mindfulness meditation.
An implication of these results would be that brief mindfulness meditation can be included in intervention programmes for stress. This exercise can be included in programmes aimed to enhance an individual’s mental health. Future studies should consider a longitudinal study to investigate long term effects of brief mindfulness meditation. The current study would only have looked at university going students, hence, future longitudinal studies can consider the effects of mindfulness meditation on other populations (i.e. working adults, adolescents).