An antidote to habitual worrying

Verplanken, B., & Fisher, N.  (2012). Habitual Worrying and Benefits of Mindfulness. Mindfulness [journal]. Abstract

Although worry is in essence an adaptive mental activity, habitual worrying (repetitive and automatic worried thinking) is dysfunctional. Two studies investigated whether mindfulness mitigated adverse consequences of habitual worrying. The beneficial role of mindfulness was hypothesized on the basis of two key features: a focus on the immediate experience and an attitude of acceptance towards whatever arises in the stream of consciousness.

These features map inversely on habitual worrying, which is characterized by a focus away from the present and a non-accepting attitude towards the object of worry. In study 1, it was found that, while habitual worrying correlated significantly with test anxiety, dispositional mindfulness partially mediated this relationship. Study 2 demonstrated that experimentally induced mindfulness made habitual worriers more tolerant to viewing distressing images.

Together the studies suggest that mindfulness may function as an antidote to unconstructive consequences of habitual worrying.


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