By: Sarah Hofstedt, CSUN Public Health Intern
A new study finds that as little as five to twelve minutes of daily meditation can reduce stress and anxiety in pre-healthcare college students.
Stress is one of the most reported barriers to academic achievement in college students. Feelings of hopelessness, being overwhelmed, loneliness, and even suicidal ideation are reported by college students across the United States. These and other stressors contribute to depression, anxiety, poor academic performance, and decreased physical and mental wellbeing. Pre-healthcare students specifically tend to have higher levels of drug and alcohol use, anxiety, and attrition when experiencing chronic stress; these students tend to spend more time volunteering, interning, and working in clinical settings during their college years than students in other fields of study.
In a study from the Journal of American College Health, researchers found that students who completed an 8-week mindfulness meditation program experienced significant differences in heart rate variability, stress, anxiety, and increased mindfulness. The researchers used a program to track how many minutes students spent viewing the meditation videos on the program website. There was a total of 452.25 minutes of meditations in the intervention, of which the average completion was about 250 minutes. Despite only completing about half of the videos, students still experienced the benefits of mindfulness at the end of the 8-week period. Students with the highest adherence to the program experienced the most significant increase in mindfulness, suggesting that the more consistent students are with meditation, the more they will benefit.