Mindfulness May Be Stress-Buster at Exam Time

Mindfulness May Be Stress-Buster at Exam Time

For college students stressed out at exam time, a new study suggests there is a simple way to improve their mental health -- mindfulness training.

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Mindfulness is an ancient practice that has gained some popularity among those feeling rushed by the often hectic pace of modern life. It involves being focused on the present, what you're thinking and feeling, as well as what's happening around you -- so-called living in the moment.

Students in the study who were given mindfulness training lowered their stress levels during exam time, the study found.

The study included 616 students at the University of Cambridge in England. All were given counseling, but one group also participated in mindfulness training. That involved eight weekly group sessions and at-home practice.

Not only did the students who received mindfulness training have lower levels of stress during annual exams, but they also reported higher levels of well-being than those who did not receive the training.

"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 study leader Julieta Galante, from the university's department of psychiatry.

"Students who had been practicing mindfulness had distress scores lower than their baseline levels, even during exam time, which suggests that mindfulness helps build resilience against stress," Galante noted in a university news release.

Peter Jones, also from the university's psychiatry department, said that "evidence is mounting that mindfulness training can help people cope with accumulative stress."

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Jones added, "While these benefits may be similar to some other preventative methods, mindfulness could be a useful addition to the interventions already delivered by university counseling services. It appears to be popular, feasible, acceptable and without stigma."

The study was published Dec. 18 in The Lancet Public Health.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers mental health tips for college students.


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