Is Mindfulness the Answer to College Student Stress & Anxiety?

Is Mindfulness the Answer to College Student Stress & Anxiety?

Going off to college has always been a potentially stress-inducing time for young people, but over the past few years, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has caused increasing levels of stress and anxiety for college students. As these challenges don’t seem to be going away any time soon, it’s essential that young people begin to develop skills to help them increase in resilience, process feelings of worry or fear, and manage the added stress of college life during a global pandemic. In this blog, the Lansing Counseling team will discuss the benefits of mindfulness practices to help college students manage stress and anxiety.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a skill that allows us to be fully present and aware of our place in the world and what is happening around us without being overly reactive to external stimuli. Simply speaking, it is using the senses to become deliberately and intentionally aware of the reality of our surroundings from moment to moment.

How Does Mindfulness Help with Stress & Anxiety?

Stress and anxiety have been rising steadily among college students even before the pandemic. In the post-pandemic world, those worries seem to be rising faster. The Jed Foundation conducted research in the fall of 2020 that showed 63% of college students thought their mental health was worse since the start of the pandemic. Mindfulness practices like meditation, mindful breathing, and body scans have been shown to improve mood, increase concentration, and decrease feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.

Are There Simple Mindfulness Practices I Can Try to Reduce Anxiety?

To be truly beneficial, mindfulness takes practice and intentional implementation, which can be difficult for college students who are already busy. For this reason, many college students struggle to develop and maintain a mindfulness routine that benefits them. Luckily, technology can help! Most young people are attached to their cellphones, and there are numerous apps (some free and some paid) that offer daily mindfulness tips and practices to help college students sustain their practice.

Don’t feel like using a mindfulness app is right for you? Below, we’re including some simple mindfulness practices that can help you start feeling better today:

  • Intention setting – start your day with a purpose. When you wake up, set an intention for the day. What do you want to  accomplish? How do you plan to accomplish this goal? Who can you rely on if you need support?
  • Simple meditating – meditation is a learned skill, and it takes years to fully unlock the power of this practice. Even so, anyone can practice meditating any time. A simple meditation practice involves finding a quiet place to sit comfortably, close your eyes, clear your mind, and focus on just breathing in and out. Allow thoughts and feelings to enter and leave you. Don’t try to hold onto or analyze these thoughts and sensations. Just acknowledge them and let them go. Start small and just meditate for one minute.
  • Box breathing – close your eyes and focus only on your breathing. As you inhale for a count of five, visualize drawing the top line of a box. Hold your breath for a count of five and visualize drawing the right side of a box. Exhale for a count of five and visualize drawing the bottom line of a box. Hold your breath for a count of five and visualize connecting the left side line of the box to the top line. Repeat several times.

Should College Students Work with a Therapist to treat Anxiety?

Many young people will adjust, after some time, to the stress and anxiety of heading to school for the first time or returning during the pandemic. Others may benefit from working with a professional to increase their resilience and manage the effects of stress and anxiety. If you are a college student or the parent of a college student looking for therapy in Lansing, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team. We’re here to help. 

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East Lansing, MI 48823

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