How mindfulness, self-compassion, and experiential avoidance are related to perceived stress in a sample of university students

David Martínez-Rubio, Ariadna Colomer-Carbonell, Juan P Sanabria-Mazo, Adrián Pérez-Aranda, Jaime Navarrete, Cristina Martínez-Brotóns, Cristina Escamilla, Anna Muro, Jesús Montero-Marín, Juan V Luciano, Albert Feliu-Soler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


University students constitute a population that is highly vulnerable to developing mental health problems, such as distress. The role of different variables associated with the development of states of stress has been studied in order to identify potential risk and protective factors. This study explored whether mindfulness, self-compassion, and experiential avoidance, while controlling for specific sociodemographic and academic variables, were potential significant protective or risk factors explaining perceived stress in a sample of 589 Spanish university students (81.2% female, age range 18–48 years). A hierarchical multiple regression analysis was performed using an exploratory cross-sectional design. Higher experiential avoidance, lower self-compassion, lower mindfulness, not perceiving family support, higher total study hours per week, having a partner (vs. being single), being female (vs. being male), and being older were significantly associated with higher levels of perceived stress. In conclusion, perceived stress in our sample was positively associated with experiential avoidance, which could be regarded as a potential psychological risk variable. In contrast, perceived stress was negatively correlated with self-compassion and mindfulness, which, in turn, could be seen as protective factors. Accordingly, it is concluded that programmes aimed at reducing stress and at improving well-being among university students should include experiential avoidance, self-compassion, and mindfulness as therapeutic targets.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0280791
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2023


  • Humans
  • Male
  • Female
  • Adolescent
  • Young Adult
  • Adult
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness
  • Self-Compassion
  • Universities
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Stress, Psychological/psychology
  • Students/psychology
  • Empathy


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