The benefits of mindfulness are widely reported, and more and more adults are being encouraged to undertake suitable exercises to decrease their stress levels and improve emotional wellbeing. Could mindfulness be beneficial for students, too?
In a word: yes. Though young people – and students – face different pressures than adults, they could be the segment of society that would in fact benefit from mindfulness exercises the most. Bombarded with information continually and facing a barrage of communications across different screens (often carrying multiple devices with them at any one time), it’s no surprise that students often find it hard to live in the present moment – which is what mindfulness is all about. In this blog, we’ll explore the benefits of mindfulness for students, as well as looking at some recommended exercises.
Mindfulness for Students: The Benefits
Increased awareness of ourselves – and the world around us – not only improves mental health and general wellbeing, but also it’s been shown to enhance academic performance. Here are some of the key benefits of mindfulness for students:
- De-stress. Forget exams or important goals (like getting into university): just attending school on a daily basis is rife with academic pressures. As a result, many students develop anxiety. Practicing mindfulness exercises – such as meditating – has proved to be a powerful antidote to symptoms of work-related anxiety.
- Improve memory. One of the key benefits of mindfulness is that it increases a sense of connection to the here and now, which makes it easier to concentrate and take in knowledge. Studies have shown that students who undertake mindfulness or meditation exercises see improvements in their short-term memory.
- Increased focus. As mentioned above, an improved connection to the present sharpens a student’s ability to focus. It has also been shown to enhance attention span, meaning that they are able to ignore distractions more easily.
Mindfulness for Students: Four Exercises to Try
An oldie but a goodie, there’s a reason that breathing exercises have remained at the forefront of meditation and mindfulness. This simple exercise will help you calm down and focus your mind quickly, making it perfect to try at home or on the go. Place a hand on your tummy, close your eyes, and count to seven whilst breathing in; on the exhale, count to 11. Don’t change your breath; instead, increase or decrease the speed of your counting to match your inhalations and exhalations. Repeat at least five times.
A longer exercise that requires about twenty minutes to complete, and which needs to be undertaken whilst reclining or sitting comfortably. Close your eyes and focus all your attention on your body. Starting at the top of your head, work your way down, focusing on areas of tension in the body. Make yourself consciously release each area of tension, and continue slowly through the body until you’ve covered everywhere – from the tops of your toes to your fingertips. Once you’ve completed the body scan, remain seated or lying down, and stay completely still, focusing on your breathing. Take a least ten breaths. A great exercise for re-energising, refocusing and de-stressing your mind.
Keep a gratitude journal
It’s impossible to feel both anxious and grateful at once. Thinking of the things you’re thankful for is a great way to boost your mood and rid your mind of negative thoughts. Each day – perhaps before you go to bed – write a journal entry that consists of three things you’re grateful for about the day. It doesn’t need to be anything big: it could be something as simple as feeling a slight breeze on a hot day.
Smell the roses
Okay, we’re not literally advocating a bout of rosebush sniffing (!): but there’s no more powerful reminder of the present moment than our immediate environment, and nature is all around us – we just have to remember to stop and look from time to time. As well as being about the present moment, mindfulness is also about increased awareness of your senses. How does the sun feel on your skin? How does that grass feel under your foot? Whenever you walk between classes, to the bus, or even from your car to your front door, try and pick something from nature to focus on, and explore what you notice and how it makes you feel.
Do you have any mindfulness tips or de-stressing exercises that you’d like to share with us? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch with your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter – and be sure to follow us, too, so you can keep up to date with all our news.