Previous research on mindfulness has focused mainly on stress-related negative symptoms and short-term effects. In contrast, the present article focuses on the impact of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program on improving well-being (i.e. relaxation states and related positive emotions) in a longitudinal study for a period of one year. A randomized controlled trial in a sample of 42 physicians was used. The intervention group participated in an 8-week MBSR program, with an additional 10-month maintenance period and completed measures of mindfulness and relaxation at pre-intervention, post-intervention and after 10 months. Heart rate measures were also obtained. Significant improvements in favor of the experimental group compared with the control group on the levels of mindfulness and relaxation (including positive emotional states, such as at ease/peace, renewal, energy, optimism, happiness, acceptance, and even transcendence) were obtained after eight weeks. Remarkably, change magnitudes (effect size) significantly increased at the end of the maintenance period after a year, especially for mindfulness and positive energy. Additionally, heart rate significantly decreased for the intervention group and maintained a year after the beginning of the treatment. Results are relevant in terms of practical consequences for improving health and well-being in this population and also in terms of cost-efficiency.
Keywords: heart rate; mindfulness; physicians; positive emotions; relaxation states.