Benefits of Mindfulness for College Students

By: Joycelyn Cabrera, EAW Student Digital Reporter

When it comes to cramming for finals, keeping up with deadlines, and balancing school and work, college students may find themselves overwhelmed and stressed out. Mindfulness a state of living that focusing on the present moment and seen in daily activities such as meditations, may be one way to helping students reduce stress at home as well as in the workplace.

Over the last several years, mindfulness has become an increasingly popular subject in regards to mental health because studies have shown mindful practices reduce both stress and anxiety levels. Mindfulness is something many students are taught within their college careers, especially for those students studying in the social work field.

Fatima Santiago, an ASU student majoring in social services and an EAW employee for over a year, says she practices mindfulness on a daily basis.

“Mindfulness to me means that I take everything into consideration at that moment, or that I focus on one particular thing at a time,” Fatima says.

These mindful living practices include acknowledging and accepting all feelings, emotions and thoughts in that present moment in order to improve mental health.

Ester Castro, another ASU student majoring in social work who has been at EAW for over two years and who works closely with Fatima, says the school of social work puts a lot of emphasis on self-care and stress management. She says mindfulness has helped her feel grounded when she is overwhelmed and better equipped to tackle a task because she’s in a good headspace.

With online finals, EAW student workers have more time and more reason to practice mindfulness in order to reduce stress and anxiety. Time management has become key for students working in addition to their continued online schooling.

“At times, I’ll catch myself stressed or overworked by not putting in as much effort as I typically do,” Ester says. “When that happens, I’ll take a step back and take note of my breathing, and I’ll be good to go again.”

Jaime Valderrama is an Arizona State University professor of social work and sciences who has been teaching stress management courses which focus on mindfulness at ASU for 7 years.

“What we find without mindfulness, is that you are either rumination, or projecting,” Jaime says. “If you’re not living in the present moment, you’re dwelling on the past or you’re worried about the future, and what we have found is that when you ruminate about the past, it can clinically lead to depression; on the other side, if you project and think about the future too much, it can clinically lead to anxiety. So, mindfulness says to just be in the present moment.”

Forbes Coaches Council lists 14 ways to practice mindfulness in the work place or in a work environment, including:

  • Remember to breathe
  • Notice the little things around you
  • Lead with emotional connection
  • Allow gap time between meetings

“Being mindful has essentially helped me to take things and navigate them correctly mentally and physically,” Fatima says. “To keep me sane, I’ve set up my work in a different area and my school in another. Being mindful means that I am in charge of how things impact me.”

Students juggling online classes and preparing for final exams can practice mindfulness by practicing a multitude of different exercises, including mindful breathing and meditations which focus on one part of the body and mind at a time.

“Mindfulness is like a hidden superpower,” says Jaime. “It trains the brain to be present, that’s all we’re doing. You start strengthening that neuro-connection to the present moment, which is where you’ll be happiest and you’re going to be the most effective personally and professionally.”

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