Researchers at SAHMRI and Flinders University conducted a large meta-analysis of well-being, hoping to answer the question: What's the best way to build personal well-being?
To do this, they analyzed more than 400 clinical trials, with more than 50,000 participants. The researchers divided the participants into three groups: those in generally good health, those with physical illness and those with mental illness; they then analyzed which ways of improving wellness worked best among each group.
Results revealed that practicing mindfulness, meditation and conscious breathing was effective at increasing well-being in all three groups. Additionally, positive psychological interventions included working on a sense of purpose, performing small acts of kindness and keeping a gratitude journal; the researchers noted, however, that these were effective only when done in combination. For those in generally good health, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) was most useful, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) proved to be beneficial for many of those with mental illness.
"During stressful and uncertain periods in our lives, pro-actively working on our mental health is crucial to help mitigate the risk of mental and physical illness," said Joep Van Agteren, co-lead at the SAHMRI Wellbeing and Resilience Centre. "Our research suggests there are numerous psychological approaches people should experiment with to determine what works for them."