To view this page ensure that Adobe Flash Player version 11.1.0 or greater is installed.
Mindfulness-Based Interventions: A Brief Review of Their Application to Graduate Student Strain Enrique Cabrera-Caban, Rebecca Garden, Arianna White, and Katelyn Reynoldson Old Dominion University Graduate school is often a stressful peri- od for budding industrial-organizational psychologists. One strategy for manag- ing stress, both in graduate school and beyond, is the mindfulness-based inter- vention (MBI). This article examines the potential efficacy of MBIs for the graduate student population within a stressor-strain framework. First, we detail common grad- uate student stressors, then we define mindfulness and provide examples of mindfulness exercises. Next, we review meta-analytic evidence for the effective- ness of MBIs in reducing strain in broader populations. Last, we provide resources for beginning a mindfulness practice. Al- though this article focuses primarily on the graduate student population, the lessons learned from MBI research apply to most professional populations as well. Graduate Student Stressors Stressors are external stimuli that elicit a response in an individual, whereas strains are the physical or emotional responses to stressors (Jex, Beehr, & Roberts, 1992). We reviewed five recent studies that col- lectively sampled 4,148 graduate students in order to determine the stressors and strains most commonly experienced by graduate students (El-Ghoroury, Galper, Sawaqdeh, & Bufka 2012; Hyun, Quinn, The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist Madon, & Lustig, 2006; Myers et al., 2012; Offstein, Larson, McNeill, & Mwale, 2004; Oswalt & Riddock, 2007). These common stressors include academic workload, competing demands, conflict between research interests and unrelated academic requirements, finances, holding a job, ca- reer planning, loneliness, adjusting to new environments, time management, and poor school/work–life balance. These stressors may result in strains, as ob- served by Oswalt and Riddock (2007), who found that 74.8% of the 219 graduate stu- dents sampled reported being “stressed” or “very stressed.” Further, students may experience other negative outcomes, including interference with optimal func- tioning, burnout (El-Ghoroury et al., 2012), feeling overwhelmed or exhausted (Hyun et al., 2006), and decreased academic per- formance (Kernan, Bogart, & Wheat, 2011). In summation, the literature overwhelm- ingly demonstrates that graduate students are faced with a multitude of stressors that put them at risk for strains, which in turn may impact optimal functioning in both personal and professional domains. Graduate students typically cope with stressors in a number of ways. The most prevalent coping strategies are talking with friends, classmates, or family; eating 121