What can mindfulness do for you as a student?
Mindfulness gets a lot of buzz lately, but what does it mean, really?When you are mindful, you are aware and present, focused and relaxed. For students, this quality can be especially important. If your attention is divided between family, home, work, and your studies, cultivating mindfulness can help you focus on the moment and whatever is immediately important, whether it is fixing dinner, attending a meeting at work, or preparing for a class project.
Incorporate some mindfulness practice in your life you’ll reap the benefits: improved focus, reduced stress, and increased productivity. And that’s not just talk. These benefits are measurable and have been seen in numerous scientific and medical studies.
In a study at Jefferson Medical College, medical students who participated in a mindfulness-based stress reduction seminar had significant reductions in their levels of anxiety and depression. (Steven Rosenzweig , Diane K. Reibel , Jeffrey M. Greeson , George C. Brainard & Mohammadreza Hojat (2003) Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Lowers Psychological Distress In Medical Students, Teaching and Learning in Medicine, 15:2, 88-92, DOI: 10.1207/S15328015TLM1502_03)(http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/S15328015TLM1502_03)
Another study published in the Journal of American College Health (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22686356) showed a correlation between higher levels of mindfulness and better overall health. In fact, “Dispositional mindfulness contributed to better physical health even after controlling for traditional health habits.”
So, how do you go about cultivating mindfulness?
When your mind is racing from one thing to another and you cannot focus, try this simple five senses exercise:
Close your eyes and listen to your own breath. Take 3 deep breaths. Then, consider each of your five senses.
- What do you see?
- What can you hear?
- What can you feel?
- What can you taste?
- What can you smell?
To conclude the exercise, take a few more deep breaths. You’ll find this exercise calming and restorative, and a way to bring mindfulness into your day.
Deeper meditation practices also develop mindfulness. And it doesn’t have to be long – studies have shown that even a few minutes can have lasting effects. A quick search on YouTube will turn up guided meditation exercises of all different lengths. Or you can use a free app such as Relax Melodies or Calm to guide you in a meditation.
For a quick overview of meditation, take a look at the Beginner’s Guide to Meditation:
Mindfulness can impact your studies in a very positive way. It can reduce stress, increase focus, and improve productivity.