Victoria University, Australia
Title: Mindfulness can mediate stress: as told by physiological markers
Michaela is a researcher in the field of stress, inflammation, wellbeing and mental health. She has drawn attention to the impact of stress on mental health and cognitive outcomes, and the mediating influence of non-pharmacological stress mediating interventions, such as diet, exercise and mindfulness on these outcomes. She has researched the impact of stress both in the context of chronic illness, and young people in Australia experiencing chronic, normative stress related to their academic demands.
Stress is common and associated with the onset of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Meditation is a popular form of stress management, argued to mediate stress reactivity. Given the frequency with which people are selecting meditation as a form of self-management, it is important to validate if the practice is effective in meditating stress-reactivity using well-controlled studies. At present, many studies in this field commonly fail to include an active control group when assessing the impacts of mediation practices in randomised control trails. We conducted a meta-analysis investigating the neurobiological effects of meditation, compared to an active control group on markers of stress. Meditation reduced systolic blood pressure. Our results indicate that meditation practice leads to decreased physiological stress markers, compared to an active control group, in a range of populations.