You can hardly get through a day without hearing something about the negative effects of stress. And college students must find a way to deal with multiple stressors, such as finance problems, balancing work with study and simply trying to find their way in a time in their lives of intense personal and academic growth; all in addition to the everyday stresses of the modern world.
The good news is that benefit of meditation for college students is that it’s an antidote to all that stress, and even better it can help prevent the health problems caused by chronic stress.
In a study, published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Psychophysiology, a number of encouraging results were found. This study on a group of students practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) for 20 minutes, twice a day, for a period of ten weeks (as opposed to a control group), showed a number of positive benefits.
The “Brain Integration Scale” scores of the meditating students was higher than the non-meditators, this means that there was more alpha activity in the brain, better match of brain activation and task demands and greater frontal coherence in the brain. As Fred Travis, director of the MUM brain research center, put it, “From pretest to posttest, Brain Integration Scale scores increased significantly, indicating greater breadth of planning, thinking and perception of the environment”
Less sleepiness, even during the last week before final exams, was reported by students practicing Transcendental Meditation. One student reported that she could feel, “my whole body releasing the stress of the day.”
This study also found that meditating students recovered faster from loud tones, which was measured by galvanic skin response (GSR). The sympathetic nervous system will respond to loud new tones, and the study found the meditators sympathetic nervous system stopped responding quickly as compared to the non-meditators, whose system and a prolonged response.
In an article by Mario Orsatti on college students, stress and “perfectionistic thinking,” the benefits of Transcendental Meditation are discussed, so I’ll let Mario take over for a while…
“College students are trying to deal with unprecedented levels of stress,” said lead researcher, Dr. Jaimie Burns, Assistant Director of the Trinity Counseling Center. “They are going through a transitional time in life and are trying to navigate through intense academic and personal growth challenges. The lack of sleep students get is astounding and alarming. More students are graduating without jobs or are getting jobs that they don’t really want, and they know that they are going to go out into a world of rapid change and upheaval.”
“We are always evaluating tools to find out what works and how well they work. Our question was, will a tool like Transcendental Meditation really work? Our goal was to carefully, objectively, assess how effective TM would be, and we were impressed with the results, especially in the areas of trait anxiety and perfectionistic thinking,” she said.
Anxiety can be either a short term “state” or a long term “trait.” Trait anxiety reflects a stable tendency to respond with state anxiety in the anticipation of threatening situations. It is closely related to the personality trait of neuroticism.
“Mental health professionals often have difficulty helping people with this kind of dispositional anxiety,” said Dr. Burns. “To find something that helps these people is a significant problem because it’s entrenched in them. Therapy generally does not help. This is why the effect of TM practice in this study was impressive.”
Another important variable studied by the researchers at Trinity was a specific anxiety-related disorder referred to by the term “perfectionistic thinking.”
“Perfectionistic thinking refers to the extreme end of the striving spectrum,” said Dr. Burns. “When people exhibit a high degree of perfectionistic thinking, it puts them at risk for a variety of problems. Striving toward achievement is obviously good and a motivator, but when people get into what we call perfectionistic thinking, they feel that they have to be perfect all the time and it puts them at risk for developing a variety of psychological problems.”
“Perfectionism,” as it is often referred to by modern psychology, makes people set unrealistically high standards for themselves. Such individuals can feel that their self-worth depends on a consistently spotless performance. Researchers are finding that perfectionism can be a factor in those suffering from depression, eating disorders, social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
“Seeing the significant, positive impact that TM practice had on this variable was also quite impressive,” Dr. Burns concluded. “What made the findings even more impressive was that our post-testing took place at the end of a semester around the time of the students’ final exams when one would expect stress levels to be heightened. Further research is needed, but we are clearly enthusiastic about the potential of this tool for student health and well-being.”Click here to visit the original source of this post
In another study showing the benefit of meditation for college students is one conducted by American University, and published in the “American Journal of Hypertension,” showed that students that practiced meditation improved their mental health and lowered their blood pressure.
Stress is an inevitable in our culture, and as a student they best way to handle it is to prepare your mind and body to handle it. Of course the right diet and exercise are important and key to reducing the effects of stress, but with so many mental stressors in our lives that to maintain balance meditation has become crucial, for all of us but especially for students.
To preview this study you can check out the “Journal of College Student psychotherapy at: