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article imageVariety is key for anxiety-reducing meditation at universities

By Tim Sandle     Mar 1, 2019 in Health
Waterloo - Attending university can be a stressful experience for many and lowering anxiety helps with the student experience. A new Canadian study finds that variety is important to nudge large groups of students to engage in anxiety-relieving behaviour.
The study comes from the University of Waterloo and it looked at different anxiety-management techniques. These techniques included meditation methods aimed at first-year students. The use of meditation was found to be effective in helping students deal with the anxiety that arises with written assignments, especially with unlocking thoughts and feelings designed to aid written communication.
However, the research also found that while students were interested in mediation, this interest tends to wane in terms of small groups of students attending classes. The drop-out level hit 80 percent by the end of one particular study.
The reason for this was because the exercises undertaken did not alter (there was no variety with the mediation methods). The findings also showed that the length of the mediation did not vary and the larger the class, the less engaged the students became.
According to one of the researchers Wade Wilson: “Besides variety in the content and length of the mindfulness script, we also recommend that the instructor engage in the activity with the students and have students put away electronic devices.”
The researchers recommend that in large classroom settings, time is put aside for mindfulness exercises. They only needs to be for a few minutes and the type of exercises undertake should vary, so that students buy-in to the process.
To arrive at this, the researchers looked at the activities and responses from 434 students. The students were typically 18 years old (78 percent identified as female). The students listened to one of two mindfulness scripts, of around eight minutes duration, over a period of eight weeks. Following this, each student filled out a questionnaire.
The use of mindfulness is seen as key to improving student mental health and for lowering the anxiety that invariably accompanies people with their first year at university. While the process works, it needs to be developed to meet student needs and expectations.
The research has been reported to the journal Innovations in Education and Teaching International. The paper is titled “Mindfulness exercises for written communication: Key issues in large classrooms.”
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