A thematic analysis of the role of mindfulness during the COVID-19 pandemic : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Psychology, Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
March 2020 saw the beginning of unprecedented times. With the declaration of a global health emergency due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the lives of millions of people globally have been transformed. With all aspects of well-being threatened, individuals have sought ways to help navigate through the variety of stressors this pandemic imposes, including the use of mindfulness practise. Past research on mindfulness, has demonstrated efficacy in treating a variety of difficulties, including both physical and psychological symptomology. It may be particularly useful for decreasing stress and increasing well being during a significant life event such as COVID-19. The aim of this study was to explore the role mindfulness has had on individuals lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. Analysing posts and comments in Facebook support groups, thematic analysis was undertaken and revealed six core themes within the data; difficulties coping with COVID, connectedness, using mindfulness to cope with COVID, focusing on the bigger picture, disregard for mindfulness by medical professionals and scepticism and apprehension to use mindfulness. This study provides insight into the emerging research pertaining to COVID-19 and the ways mindfulness can help to navigate the stress it imposes through personal experiences with practice. It highlights not only the benefits people have had in relieving both physical and psychological symptoms involved but also the role social support plays in this. Barriers were also identified and discussed with inconsistent attitudes towards mindfulness use as a therapeutic tool by both medical professionals and the general public.