Have you ever felt stressed, anxious, tired, slow, or like your life was out of your control? Actually, don’t answer that just yet, let me ask you a different question. Are you a college student? If your answer to the 2nd question is yes, then I already know your answer to the 1st question is also yes. Even if you aren’t a college student, I know the answer is still yes. We all feel stressed and anxious at times. We’re only human after all. It’s normal!
The problem comes when our mind forgets to turn off our physical response to this stress and anxiety, or when our mind turns on the stress response when it is unneeded. This can lead to anxiety disorders and panic attacks. According to the American Psychological Association, 41.6% of college students stated anxiety as their top presenting concern, more than both depression (36.4%) and relationship problems (35.8%). So, anxiety is actually a bigger problem than the fact you saw Brittany grinding on Chad last night even though she’s dating Kyle.
Now I’m not going to make some bullshit claim that meditation will cure you of your anxiety and solve all your problems, but I am here to tell you it will help! And hopefully I’ll be able to convince you to start meditating.
I am going to reference two studies in this blog post. The first study is from 2009 and was published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology. That sounds pretty professional, doesn’t it? This study measured the effects of a Transcendental Meditation on college students. Transcendental Meditation is simply a form of meditation where you sit in silence and repeat a mantra over and over again to yourself. Transcendental is way too long of a word for me to keep spelling wrong so I’m just going to say “TM” for now on.
The study involved 38 students that were randomly assigned to a TM group or a control group. The TM group students were taught how to meditate correctly and then were checked in on and asked to keep a log to make sure they were continuously meditating for 10-weeks. Various tests were done at the beginning of the study and then again, 10-weeks later, a week before finals. So, one would assume their stress levels would be as high as their caffeine intake.
Well, the students that practiced TM were found to be significantly less stressed than those who did not meditate. They were less sleepy and recovered faster from stressful stimuli. It was also found that these students had lower sympathetic reactivity. This means their “fight or flight” response, the thing that makes our body sweat, our heart beat faster, and our breathing slow down, was less activated during this extremely stressful time of their lives. In other words, all the physical feelings of stress that cause us discomfort, were decreased.
This study also referenced another older study from 1991, that concluded that TM helped increase IQ levels, practical intelligence, and creativity (Travis et al., 2009).
If that study isn’t enough to convince you of the benefits of meditation, I got another one for ya. A 2009 study of Nursing School Students in Korea looked at the effects of Mindfulness Meditation on stress, anxiety, and depression. Mindfulness Meditation is just another form of meditation that focuses on non-judgmental awareness of one’s surroundings. In other words, you just sit, relax, and gain peaceful awareness of what’s going on around you.
The 41 nursing students in this study were split up into two groups. One group practiced 90 minutes of mindfulness meditation a week for 8-weeks and the other group did bupkis. After the 8-weeks, the study found a decrease in both stress and anxiety in the group that practiced the meditation but no differences in depression levels. They also reported an increased sense of control amongst the meditating group (Kang et al., 2009).
Now even though this study found that meditation does not affect depression levels, I’m just going to say that I personally disagree with that and that I have found otherwise. But to each his own, I guess.
Well there you have it, two studies done specifically with college students that report on all the great benefits of meditation. Now if you didn’t read all that and you're just skimming;
Meditation has been found to reduce stress, reduce anxiety, reduce sleepiness, increase recovery from stressful stimuli, lower the fight or flight response, and increase intelligence and creativity in college students.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you to start meditating, and if I have, I got plenty more blog posts about meditation and even some guided meditations to hopefully help get you started!
“College Students’ Mental Health Is a Growing Concern, Survey Finds.” American Psychological Association, June 2013, www.apa.org/monitor/2013/06/college-students#:~:text=Anxiety %20is% 20the% 20top%20pr esenting,cl ients%20were %20taking %20psyc hotropic %20me dications.
Kang, Yune Sik, et al. “The Effectiveness of a Stress Coping Program Based on Mindfulness Meditation on the Stress, Anxiety, and Depression Experienced by Nursing Students in Korea.” Nurse EducationToday, vol. 29, no. 5, 2009, pp. 538–543., doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2008.12.003.
Travis, Fred, et al. “Effects of Transcendental Meditation Practice on Brain Functioning and Stress Reactivity in College Students.” International Journal of Psychophysiology, vol. 71, no. 2, 2009, pp. 170–176.,doi:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2008.09.007.
A special thank you to all my friends and family who have not only supported me on my journey but have helped along the way. None of this would be possible without them. Remember to take time to appreciate those in your lives!
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