In a new study from the University of Maine, researchers found people with high levels of “trait mindfulness,” or a person’s innate ability to pay attention to the present moment without judgment showed greater well-being and mental health.
Mindful adults also demonstrated more mental resilience to stressful situations.
In the study, the team tested 121 adults between the ages of 55 and 87 for their levels of trait mindfulness.
The people were then given an array of psychological tasks to gauge their levels of cognitive function.
Researchers also measured people’s psychological resilience and emotional response to stressful, unexpected situations.
The results showed that people with higher levels of trait mindfulness were generally older and more educated, and exhibited less stress, depression and anxiety.
The researchers also found that trait mindfulness was tied to better inhibitory control, the subjects’ ability to focus their attention and filter out irrelevant information in tasks.
The harmful effect of perceived stress on inhibitory control was strongly reduced in those who were higher in mindfulness.
The team says trait mindfulness mediated the link between perceived stress and inhibitory control.
These findings support that trait mindfulness creates a mental buffer that reduces perceived stress and negative emotional reactivity across a range of older adults, which may have long-term benefits on multiple health outcomes.
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The study is published in Aging & Mental Health and was conducted by Rebecca MacAulay et al.
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