Monday 24 July 2017

Mindfulness only works for women (and can make men feel worse), says study

Mindfulness only has significant benefits for women, says study Photo: Depositphotos
Mindfulness only has significant benefits for women, says study Photo: Depositphotos
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

The concept of mindfulness has gained momentum in recent years as people struggle with increasingly stressful lives.

It promotes the idea of focusing non judgementally on the present moment rather than the past or future, which can prove pretty difficult when we're surrounded by distractions.

Advocates learn how to be more mindful with the help of courses, CDs, and books.

However, a new study suggests that the practice may be much more beneficial to women than men.

A research group at Brown University in the US assessed a group of students - 41 male and 36 female - over the course of 12 weeks.

They all took a course in mindfulness - engaging in more than 41 hours - but the researchers found that while the women experienced a significant change in their mental state, the benefits to the male group were much less evident.

Although it's difficult to pin down a reason for the differences the researchers suggest is may be due to women's higher tendency to spend time reflecting on things.

Men are more inclined to ignore worries and are therefore more likely to be focused on the present. The practice of mindfulness, therefore, may not be so productive.

In fact, it actually made the men feel a little worse than when they had started.

“That was the surprising part,” said Dr Willoughby Britton, assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior and of behavioral and social sciences at Brown.

“I wouldn't be surprised if this is a widespread phenomenon that researchers hadn't bothered to investigate,” she added.

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