As adolescents struggle with the multitude of physiological and socioemotional changes taking place during this developmental period, the goal of this study was to implement a mindfulness program for teens and measure both self-report assessments of emotional well-being (perceived stress, life satisfaction, positive and negative affect) and physiological responses to a laboratory social stressor (heart rate, blood pressure, heart rate variability, cortisol) before and after the mindfulness program. At the same time, we used an active control group (adolescents learned about healthy habits) as a comparison to the findings of the mindfulness group. Although we did not find differences in outcomes between the mindfulness and the control groups, we did find that at baseline those adolescents who were more self-compassionate tended to self-report better emotional well-being, and there was some indication that they were less stressed when responding to the laboratory social stressor (Bluth et al., 2016). We also noted that there were some differences between how males and females responded to the mindfulness program, and called for more research to be conducted in this area (Bluth et al., 2017). In particular, the finding that self-compassion correlates with emotional well-being and may also correlate with teens’ stress response is novel, and indicates that it may be important to strengthen adolescents’ self-compassion skills as a protective measure buffering against the emotional challenges that they face during the teen years.

Karen Bluth

University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill