Faculty Spotlight: Mindfulness

Mindfulness has gained popularity in recent years.  Mindfulness, the skill of non-judgmentally paying attention, has been shown to be beneficial for both emotional and physical health among undergraduate populations.1,2 While it is generally well-known that mindfulness is effective in reducing stress, specifically for undergraduates, mindfulness may be useful in decreasing alcohol problems. Additionally, individualizing mindfulness and focusing on specific facets of mindfulness for undergraduates may maximize benefits.

In a study of 310 undergraduates, researchers examined the mediating effect of perceived stress on the relationship between self-report measures of mindfulness and alcohol problems.1 Similar to previous research, the findings support the theory that mindfulness may decrease alcohol-related problems through the reduction of stress.1 This may be especially beneficial to undergraduates as alcohol use continues to be a pervasive problem across college campuses.

Research among undergraduates has also suggested that specific facets of mindfulness may be positively associated with emotional and physical well-being.2 The facets of awareness and non-judging may foster more connection with a current experience, which may lead to fewer mistakes, and more self-compassion, decreasing negative self-focused emotional states, such as rumination.2

While research is helpful in highlighting the benefits of mindfulness, it can be difficult to promote mindfulness while also trying to multi-task and manage the stress of a busy fall quarter. However, there are a few ways to foster mindfulness on campus, such as offering a moment of silence or mindfulness at the beginning of class – giving students the opportunity to pray, check-in with themselves, or take a few deep breathes before beginning class to bring their awareness to the present moment. Additionally, ending with a mindful moment may be beneficial before hurrying off to their next class or activity. Lastly, modeling non-judgmental language may benefit students and could be an opportunity to further promote a positive classroom experience.

1Bodenlos, J. S., Noonan, M., & Wells, S. Y. (2013). Mindfulness and alcohol problems in college students: The mediating effects of stress. Journal of American College Health, 61(6), 371-378.

2Bodenlos, J. S., Wells, S. Y., Noonan, M., & Mayrsohn, A. (2015). Facets of dispositional mindfulness and health among college students. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 21(10), 645-652. doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.0302

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