Compulsive behaviours are those things we are repeatedly driven to do in response to unpleasant feelings, such as anxiety or anger. These might include a cigarette in response to a bad day at work, or playing the pokies after a fight with one’s partner. It's human nature to develop habitual responses and we all engage in compulsive behaviours to some degree. But when the relationship between stressor and behavioural response becomes very strong and is occurring frequently, compulsivity can become problematic. Extreme cases of this can be seen in substance (e.g. alcohol) and behavioural (e.g. gambling) addictions or obsessive compulsive disorder.
While there are a number of treatments for OCD and addictions, there are none for these common milder experiences of compulsivity. Two promising candidates are physical exercise and meditation and this study is testing whether combining them may be an especially effective approach. This study is being conducted in partnership with Headspace Inc.