Mindfulness and Stress Reduction
Mindfulness has been shown to improve memory and testing performance, reduce stress levels, and foster better physical health (Bonamo, Legerski & Thomas, 2015; Kerrigan et al., 2017). Mindfulness practice has also been shown to improve mental-health outcomes for students who are struggling in an academic setting (Dvorˇáková et al., 2017). While the goal of mindfulness is not to help people achieve more, it has remarkably reliable effects on well-being, academic performance, stress reduction and general health for its practitioners.
- Engage in “brain breaks” that allow students to take their minds off the learning content.
- Allow for collaborative discussions or other interactions during instruction.
- Allow for short periods of movement (e.g., get up and find one person with whom to share a thought, story or question).
- Provide a “mindfulness minute” at the beginning of class, before exams, etc., in which you encourage or allow students to sit quietly and use deep breathing techniques.
- Practice techniques for focusing attention.
- Teach students how to use effective self-talk and stress-reduction approaches to manage their emotions.
- Incorporate mindfulness activities at highly stressful times (e.g., before an exam).
- Organize mindfulness activities outside of the classroom. Examples include:
- Visiting the Blanton Museum, where museum staff will collaborate with faculty to teach students mindfulness techniques.
- Encouraging students to participate in a yoga, meditation or exercise class.
- Encouraging students to participate in mindfulness classes or activities for extra credit.
- Let students know about resources for mindfulness on campus (e.g., the MindBody Labs on campus).
I use mindfulness techniques within my class to teach self-care, and I haven’t thrown any content away. For example, we went to the Blanton on the first day of class, and students found different pieces of artwork to consider things like the message and how the piece made them feel. They also focused on relaxing and breathing as they looked at the artwork. It took their minds off anything scientific.
College of Pharmacy
I LOVED IT WHEN OUR PROFESSOR TAUGHT US A MINI MINDFULNESS TECHNIQUE TO USE BEFORE EACH CLASS STARTED. IT WAS A REALLY RIGOROUS CLASS AND IMPORTANT FOR ME TO DO WELL IN. HER TECHNIQUE HELPED ME NOT FREAK OUT BEFORE TESTS. NOW I AM USING IT IN OTHER CLASSES TOO!