Written by: Reese Wong
The American Institute of Stress has stated that 8 in 10 college students undergo recurring forms of stress. As a result, these students are not getting as much sleep as possible and could be overworking themselves. One can argue that college students are the busiest individuals in society. They may work part-time to support their lifestyle. They may also be involved in one or more extracurricular activities or clubs.
They do all of this on top of trying to maintain a decent grade point average.
Alternative health practices, such as meditation and mindfulness, are considered to be unorthodox methods of healing. However, some individuals believe these practices effectively reduce stress, decrease rates of depression, and enhance sleep. All college students should implement a form of meditation or mindfulness into their lives to combat stress and improve their overall health.
Stress is certainly not a healthy habit. It can affect your life in more ways than you think. I am a college student myself, so I am familiar with some of its consequences. In some cases, stress may cause you to make unhealthy dietary decisions. In other cases, it may weaken your relationships with others. The bottom line is that this negative quality can lead to bad habits. I mean you are probably less likely to practice good habits, such as exercise when you always feel bad.
If all college students practiced meditating at least once a day, they would feel better in general and would probably be more efficient individuals. Skepticism is the only factor that is keeping every student from trying it. Sure, maybe this practice is not useful for everyone. But this idea alone may provoke students to think, “if meditation is not for everyone, then it is probably not for me.”
There have been studies that prove that alternative health practices help reduce stress. In a paper titled, “Contemplative Education: A Systematic, Evidence-Based Review of the effect of Meditation Intervention in Schools,” the results of 15 peer-reviewed studies were compared. These studies evaluated factors of well-being, social competence, and academic achievement in students who were at schools with meditation programs.
Out of 1797 participants, 61 percent of students experienced a positive effect in at least one of the three factors evaluated. After concluding these results, this paper puts two propositions forward: “proposition 1—meditation positively influences student success by increasing cognitive functioning; proposition 2—meditation positively influences student success by increasing emotional regulation” (Waters, Lea, et al.).
In another research paper titled, “Mindfulness Meditation in College Students to Advance Health Equity,” the results of a different experiment are shared. In this experiment, 43 undergraduate college students practiced meditation twice a week, 30 minutes a day, for two months. There was also a control group that did not participate in meditation. The experiment concluded that meditation had a positive effect on the experimental group.
“Qualitative data revealed that participants were sleeping better, eating better, exercising more, reacting less, knowing themselves better, and enjoying an elevated mood” (Bryan, Stephanie, et al.). Physical activity also increased among the group that engaged in meditation.
The benefits of mindfulness and meditation have been so prevalent that colleges already started integrating these practices around their campus. The University of California Los Angeles has a resource center that offers a variety of meditation-related programs. Their Mindfulness Awareness Research Center provides drop-in guided meditation sessions, weekly community practice, and guided meditation podcasts.
I ask anyone who is reading this article to do one thing for me. Regardless if you believe in any holistic healing practices or not, I would like you to give it a try. Find a secluded area, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Focus on your breathing. Exhale twice as long as you inhale. When you are ready to emerge from your meditative state, open your eyes. If you do not feel any better or less stressed, you never have to try it again.
If you did feel like this made a difference, then I suggest you make this practice a part of your routine. Meditation and mindfulness are supposed to be alternative ways to heal your mind and soul. It is essential that while we keep our physical health in check, we make sure that our spiritual health is up to par. If you are a college student, then you understand what it means to be under constant stress.
Bryan, Stephanie, et al. “Mindfulness Meditation in College Students to Advance HealthEquity.” OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 3, no. 2, 2018, p. 1.
Waters, Lea, et al. “Contemplative Education: A Systematic, Evidence-Based
Review of the Effect of Meditation Interventions in Schools.” Educational Psychology Review, vol. 27, no. 1, 2015, pp. 103–134.
“Search Campus and Health News.” Prospective Students, medschool.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=1158&action=detail&ref=1129.
“Stress: An Epidemic Among College Students.” The American Institute of Stress, September 6, 2019, http://www.stress.org/stress-an-epidemic-among-college-students.