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Mindful meditation can make transition easy for new college students

Mindful meditation is known to increase life satisfaction, and cut depression and anxiety among first-year college students.

fitness Updated: Apr 22, 2017 14:18 IST
Mindful meditation may be one way to help students successfully move to college life, say researchers.
Mindful meditation may be one way to help students successfully move to college life, say researchers.(Images: Shutterstock)

Have you just finished school and preparing for college? Mindful meditation may help you better deal with the transition, claims a new study.

Mindful meditation may be one way to help students successfully move to college life, according to Penn State researchers.

The first semester of college is a time of great transition for many students; they often are living away from home for the first time, have a much more fluid schedule than in high school and are potentially surrounded by a new peer group. For all of these reasons and more, this can be an incredibly stressful time in a student’s life.

To help ease this transition, researchers offered an eight-session mindful meditation program to first-year students at Penn State, according to lead author Kamila Dvorakova. In mindful meditation, practitioners learn how to develop an accepting, non-judgmental and kind attitude towards current thoughts and feelings.

At the end of the eight sessions, the intervention was associated with significant increases in the students’ life satisfaction, as well as a significant decrease in depression and anxiety, when compared to students who did not participate in the training. There was also an overall drop in alcohol use between the students who took part in the mindful meditation program and the control group.

“We offered an experiential, practice-oriented training,” said Dvorakova. “Rather than telling the students what to do, we had them explore and talk about how to be mindful in their daily lives and discover the benefits for themselves. We found that underneath the stress that students are experiencing is a deep desire to appreciate life and feel meaningful connections with other people. It is our responsibility as educators to create academic environments that nurture both students’ minds and hearts.”

Fifty-two undergraduate students participated in the intervention, with another 53 serving as a control. The program included self-awareness practices, emotion-regulation skills and simple mindful techniques to help students manage stressful situations, the researchers said. The participants were also given cards and stickers for home practice to serve as reminders to use mindful techniques when they encounter stressful situations.

The students indicated that the three most effective in-class exercises were three mindful breaths, breath awareness and mindful of emotions. A total of 98% of the participants would recommend the program to friends and classmates.

According to the researchers, future studies might include adding more participants, scheduling long-term follow-ups and integrating mindful meditation with academic lessons.

The study appears in the Journal of American College Health.

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