Stressing about university life? Try mindfulness
Transitioning from the structure of high school years into university can be quite stressful for young adults who are now faced with more fluid schedules.
Some are now living away from the security of home and are surrounded by new peer groups making them vulnerable to stress and anxiety.
But what can help ease the stress of this transition?
Mindfulness training has been known to help with stress and anxiety and researchers from Penn State University decided to evaluate the effectiveness of it on college student’s health and wellbeing.
Students from the intervention group reported a significant increase in student life satisfaction and a decrease in anxiety and depression, compared to the students in the control group who did not participate in the training.
Researchers conducted a randomized control trial utilizing the Learning to BREATHE (L2B) program which is a universal mindfulness program adapted to match the developmental tasks pf college transition.
The first year students at Penn State University were offered an eight- session mindfulness training program.
Mindfulness meditation is known for its focus on the present moment and on the thoughts and feeling that occur in that moment, teaching practitioners to be non-judgemental, accepting and kind in that moment.
52 undergraduate students participated in mindfulness training while another 53 served as the control group. The teachings in the eighth sessions were themed around BREATHE acronym: body, reflection, emotions (or awareness), attention, tenderness (or self-compassion), healthy habits and empowerment.
The program included emotion-regulation skills, practice of self-awareness and simple mindfulness techniques which were designed to help students manage stressful situations. The students were also given cards and stickers as gentle reminders to use the techniques at home when they encountered a stressful situation.
These sessions were offered as an experiential practice-oriented training where students were asked to explore and talk about how to be mindful in their day and discover the benefits for themselves.
At the end of the eight sessions, students from the intervention group reported a significant increase in student life satisfaction and a decrease in anxiety and depression, compared to the students in the control group who did not participate in the training.
There was also an overall drop in alcohol use in students from the intervention group compared to the control group.
The students reported that the three most effective techniques were mindful breath, mindful emotions and awareness of breath.
98% of the students said that they would recommend this program to their friends and classmates.
Mindfulness-based programs may be an effective strategy to help students transition from high school into university and college life. Perhaps academic institutions can create environments and programs around mindfulness which will nurture their minds and hearts and help them deal with stress and anxiety in a positive ways.
Source: Journal of American College Health
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