Update 1: “Why Mindfulness?” and What Goes on Behind the Scenes

In my research, I am examining the effects of a made-from-scratch computer program created to introduce students to the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a new, third-wave cognitive therapy which has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years. It has been shown to help reduce anxiety and stress in many populations which experience extreme levels of stress and anxiety. It has also been shown to help some depressed individuals. Mindfulness appealed to me as a method to help students because it is easy to understand, seems new and popular, and most importantly, does not carry the same stigma that other methods of treating mental illnesses do.

 

I am especially interested in helping college students who, due to the demands of being a college student, may experience varying levels of anxiety, depression and stress. Many times, these individuals do not meet a diagnosis so they do not seek help; however, these feelings can be especially uncomfortable and can have negative effects on one’s mental health. The goal is to try to teach students how to manage and reduce these feelings, not just to help in the moment, but also to prevent the development of something more serious.

 

For the weeks leading up to the start of my summer research project and the beginning of the first week, I was quite busy trying to get everything in line so I could start bringing in participants. A LOT goes into creating an experiment from scratch and constructing it in a way that both measures what you want to measure and is controlled. When I imagined conducting research, most of what I envisioned was the actual act of bringing participants in and running the programs I created, but there is SO much more that goes into it. Some of the steps I had anticipated, such as critically examining and condensing the existing literature surrounding mindfulness and stress, and I was prepared to invest time into highlighting quality information. However, many other parts, such as figuring out how to use survey software and learning the best way to upload a sound file, demanded a lot more time and attention than I had expected. Needless to say, the first couple weeks have been full of learning.

 

At this point, I have finished creating both my experimental program, a 30-minute informative and interactive program which explains and teaches a few mindfulness practices, and my control group which is a 30-minute informative and interactive program which explains the prevalence of stress in college students, signs and symptoms of stress, and ways to counteract it. I have also created both logs/reminder sheets for the participants to take with them after they go through the 30-minute program in the lab which summarizes what they learned and/or offers a log to keep track of their practice. I am excited to see everything come together and bring participants in!

Comments

  1. This sounds like a really interesting topic! I’m pretty interested in the concept of mindfulness and the effects of technology certainly seem important. In you research are you looking at the effects of technology on mindfulness at all? Also are there any good books or articles you would recommend to learn more about it? I’ve read some about it, but I don’t have an amazing understanding of it.

  2. ecwilliams01 says:

    Hmm, you pointed out an aspect I hadn’t considered. I chose to use a computer-based program because then the program would be delivered in a controlled manner, it could also be sent out via email, and hypothetically done anywhere. I have not done any research regarding technology and its effects on practicing mindfulness so I do not have anything to share with you, but I do know that is a popular method and would be worth looking in to. Thanks for the thought and I will consider mentioning that when writing up my final paper!

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