Study finds app-based mindfulness improves wellbeing

Primary page content

Goldsmiths research has found that app-based mindfulness training supported eudemonic wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

An image of a person holding a mobile phone with a mindfulness app open

Image by Mindfulness.Com via Unsplash

Mobile app-supported mindfulness training has been proven to reduce stress, increase self-esteem and life satisfaction as well as positive emotions like gratitude, awe and self-compassion, a new study has shown.

The research, led by Goldsmiths' Dr Agnieszka Golec de Zavala, was published in the Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being Journal in July.

The findings come at a time of a sharp rise in global unhappiness and a warning from the American Psychological Association of an impending global mental health crisis, propelled by the pandemic.

Dr Agnieszka Golec de Zavala said: “Cultivating mindfulness has been proposed as an effective way to help manage the imminent mental health crisis accelerated by the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This article is the first to present the results we obtained using a new mobile-app-supported mindfulness-based intervention. We designed an accessible daily mindful-gratitude practice that exercises the ability to soothe the nervous system, postpone immediate emotional reaction, abandon maladaptive reaction patterns and learn new ones, focused on positive emotions.” 

The paper, ‘App-based mindfulness training supported eudemonic wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic’ used a study sample of 219 Polish adults, aged between 18 – 62.

It tested whether a mindfulness meditation training app improved well-being in the sample group during the pandemic. Results found that training worked to increase dispositional mindfulness by 30 per cent, as well as gratitude, self-compassion and awe.

Dr Agnieszka Golec de Zavala explained: “The training is comparable to in-person interventions but can reach understudied populations. It improves positive well-being – increases self-esteem, decreases daily stress, increases positive mood and decreases negative mood.

“It also increases a propensity to feel grateful for positive aspects of one’s experience and an ability to be compassionate and gentle towards oneself in times of weakness. This emotional focus allows savouring positive aspects of experience even in the face of adversity. This training is a benefit-focused intervention to support mental health.

“If I was to point to the most important aspects of this training it would be the fact that it can be made easily accessible for people who don't have time or money to participate in in-person training. It can be used in a person's own time. Persistent training could change the way we react to our experience and change our emotional perspective to a more positive one. This training does not only aim to ease negative emotions. It aims to equip practitioners with new skills of attention and emotion regulation that can benefit them for life.”

The work was supported by the Polish National Science Centre advanced research grant Maestro (2017/26/A/HS6/00647) awarded to Agnieszka Golec de Zavala.

The full article can be read in the Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being Journal.