Feel like giving up? Study finds mindfulness meditation helps with achieving personal goals

POLAND — Whether you’re battling burnout or feeling overwhelmed by a challenging project at work, the thought of giving up has probably crossed your mind once or twice. But a new study from Poland suggests when you’re in a crisis and questioning your goals, it’s helpful to cope with the situation with a bit of mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness meditation is a mental training practice intended to slow down thoughts and calm both the mind and body. It involves doing a mental body scan where one focuses on letting go of stressful or distracting thoughts. Instead, they work to feel present to what they’re sensing and feeling in the current moment.

“This study provides the first evidence supporting that mindfulness is not only a predictor of action crises but might also influence how people cope with them once they occur,” writes the research team. “Our findings also highlight the importance of noticing – through meditation for instance – our cognitive and emotional states in goal pursuit and treat ourselves with compassion when things are not going as planned”.

The authors of the study recruited 121 volunteers for the study. They were asked to state an important personal goal — such as finishing college or producing a second film — and their motivation for it. Additionally, they were asked what techniques they used when they felt like giving up.

The participants were split into two groups. One group performed mindfulness meditation exercises while the other group spent 15 minutes reading magazines. Afterward, all volunteers read scenarios describing an action crisis related to their goals and completed a questionnaire on how they currently felt about their goals.

People who practice mindfulness meditation did better at coping with crisis situations in simulated scenarios than people who did not. The researchers suggest a several-week-long mindfulness training would be helpful for people dealing with internal struggles regarding their personal goals.

The study is published in the journal Social Psychological Bulletin.

About the Author

Jocelyn Solis-Moreira

Jocelyn is a New York-based science journalist whose work has appeared in Discover Magazine, Health, and Live Science, among other publications. She holds a Master’s of Science in Psychology with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience and a Bachelor’s of Science in integrative neuroscience from Binghamton University. Jocelyn has reported on several medical and science topics ranging from coronavirus news to the latest findings in women’s health.

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