Updated: Sep 27, 2020
Psychological #wellbeing is a core feature of mental health. It includes enjoyment, pleasure, meaning, fulfilment, happiness as well as resilience, coping, emotion regulation, and healthy problem-solving. Mental health is now understood to involve both the absence of mental illness and the presence of psychological well-being.
A lot of evidence supports a causal relationship between greater psychological well-being and better
overall health and improved disease-specific outcomes. For example, changing states of wellbeing, by increasing positive emotion and decreasing negative emotions, results in beneficial physiological and biological changes. For example, reduced inflammation and greater immune functioning. These changes also contribute to diverse positive health outcomes such as cardiovascular health.
Several systematic reviews and meta-analyses have suggested that psychological #wellbeing can be enhanced by interventions such as mindfulness training. Integrative body-mind training (IBMT) has been on a particular focus. It shares key components with other forms of mindfulness training, such as a systematic training of attention and self-control with an attitude of acceptance and openness to present experiences.
IBMT has shown multiple positive effects on psychological well-being and health, including increased self-control and positive emotions, and decreased negative emotions and stress hormones. In one randomized controlled trial, young adults were assigned randomly to an IBMT or a relaxation training (RT) group for five sessions of brief training. From baseline to post-training, IBMT participants, compared to those in RT, showed greater improvement of performance in executive control which is an index of self-control.
IBMT participants also had lower levels of negative effects and higher levels of positive effects. In addition, IBMT participants also showed decreased stress hormone cortisol and increased immune reactivity. Whereas longer training in IBMT, for example, 20 sessions reduced basal stress level of cortisol and
increased basal immune function, suggesting better health outcomes. There has been some indirect evidence showing that mindfulness capacity, a trait that is often increased after mindfulness training, can modulate neural responses to emotion-related stimuli and influence affective processing.
A study tested the generalizability of these IBMT findings. The same randomized control trial (RCT) design was used in older adults and adolescents and detected similar effects on psychological wellbeing and health. In particular, following long-term IBMT practise, older adults showed significantly higher ratings in the overall score of quality of life, including physical, psychological, independence and social relationships.
Together, these findings provide some evidence that mindfulness training may enhance psychological well-being through influencing brain structural plasticity. However, it is required future investigation that should focus on establishing a direct relationship between brain functional changes and behavioural improvement following mindfulness training in randomized control trial (RCT).