Off to College? Take Mindfulness With You

by Donna Torney on July 29, 2011 · 0 comments

Leaving home for college is a whopping transition.  First year college students are easily prone to academic, social, and personal stress as they try to balance all these domains of their lives, largely on their own,

Since mindfulness meditation is known to improve mood, decrease stress, and boost the immune system, it’s the perfect tool for college freshman

for the first time. Adjusting to living in dorms with other students, joining clubs or sports, and making time for academics can be anxiety provoking for the most hardy young adult.

When we are under large amounts of stress (like most college students usually are), our brain produces a “fight or flight” response which prepares the body for defensive action, but is also the cause of anxiety. For example, a student taking an exam becomes anxious and either tries to continue the exam through the anxiety or shuts down, making the student too nervous or frustrated to finish the exam. This response is mental and physical as the brain prepares the body by releasing adrenaline and cortisol to sharpen the senses, quicken the pulse, deepen respiration, and tense the muscles. If students are  constantly feeling the “fight or flight” response, academic work may suffer and depression and/or physical illness can occur.

But never fear- mindfulness meditation is here!  Since mindfulness meditation is known to improve mood, decrease stress, and boost the immune system, it’s the perfect tool for decreasing the amount of time spent in “fight or flight” mode. So, the next time you’re taking a test or writing a paper and you can feel the anxiety and frustration approaching, close your eyes and breathe. Nobody in the classroom or computer lab will notice (trust me, they’re too busy focusing on their own work and stress). Taking a few minutes – or even seconds – to reconnect with the breath will help lower the adrenaline and cortisol being released so that you can focus on the rest of the exam. And hey, if you really don’t know the answer, there will be other tests and other classes. One test is not the end of your career!

Learn how to breathe mindfully…. it just might be the best skill you pack in your college suitcase.

Take a look at our mindfulness basics, and how mindfulness can enhance brain activity and help you study.

For more information, check out our tip sheet for college students.

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