Add meditation, “mindful thinking” and “mindful eating” to the list of things to do this Christmas to get ready for those exams you have to take in 2018 – they could be key to acing those tests.
A study of over 600 students had found those that took mindfulness classes were one third less likely to meet the threshold commonly regarded as meriting mental health support. Distress scores of this mindfulness group were kept low even during the exams, when students are usually the most stressed.
“This is, to the best of our knowledge, the most robust study to date to assess mindfulness training for students, and backs up previous studies that suggest it can improve mental health and well-being during stressful periods,” said Dr Julieta Galante, of Cambridge’s psychiatry department, who led the study.
“Students who had been practising mindfulness had distress scores lower than their baseline levels even during exam time, which suggests that mindfulness helps build resilience against stress.”
Mental health in campus has been in the spotlight in recent years. Student accommodation provider UPP’s annual Student Experience survey shows almost nine in 10 (87 percent) of first-year students in the UK find it difficult to cope with social or academic aspects of university life. Many found the transition from school to university to be considerably stressful.
Another key stress area is in studying, where almost six in 10 reported it made it difficult for them to cope. Other troubles students face in university were isolation (44 percent), balancing work and study (37 percent), financial difficulties (36 percent) and living independently (22 percent).
Cambridge’s study on mindfulness could be a possible solution to help university students cope better.
Prof Peter Jones, also from Cambridge’s psychiatry department added: “The evidence is mounting that mindfulness training can help people cope with accumulative stress.
“While these benefits may be similar to some other preventative methods, mindfulness could be a useful addition to the interventions already delivered by university counselling services. It appears to be popular, feasible, acceptable and without stigma.”