The COVID-19 pandemic has been associated with a dramatic rise in symptoms of depression and anxiety. Dispositional mindfulness (DM) and self-compassion (SC) have consistently been associated with psychological disorder symptoms and appear to buffer the effects of stress on depression and anxiety.
Across two studies (n = 888), we examined direct and indirect (moderation) relationships of DM, SC, COVID-19-related stress, and symptoms of depression and anxiety. We also examined the differential effects of several DM measures (FFMQ-15; FFMQ-39; MAAS) in the relationships of COVID-19 stress and psychological disorder symptoms. We recruited participants (Study 1 n = 350; 42.2% cis women; Study 2 n = 538; 44.3% cis women) online (MTurk) and examined associations of DM, SC, and COVID-19 stress, and emotional impact, and the moderating effect of DM and SC in the relationships of COVID-19-related fears, stress, emotional impacts, and psychological disorder symptoms.
DM and SC were moderately and negatively correlated with COVID-19 fears and stress (correlations ranging r = − .14 to r = − .42) across studies. Study 1 moderation analyses demonstrated SC, but not DM (FFMQ-15), significantly moderated relationships of COVID-19 fears and emotional impacts with symptoms. Study 2 analyses demonstrated the FFMQ-39, but not the MAAS, significantly moderated relationships of COVID-19 stress and psychological disorder symptoms.
These results support the potential protective roles of DM and SC in disrupting pathological trajectories related to naturally elevated pandemic stress. Results also demonstrate the differential associations of several DM measures with COVID-19 stress. Future research should replicate such findings with more diverse samples and using various measures of self-compassion and risk metrics.