Mindfulness training can lower both anxiety and stress in college students
Study Info/Personal Thoughts:
A study conducted with college students (random genders and ages) at the University of Pennsylvania wanted to determine the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation in reducing anxiety/negative mental being as well as stress (They looked at heart rate variability – meaning the ability to quickly calm your heart rate once it goes into a stress response). The study was set up with three groups of students.
Group one would attend a mindfulness intervention (mindful meditation training) once a week for an hour for four weeks.
Group two would interact with a therapy dog in-between study sessions for an hour each week for four weeks.
Group three – nothing.
What was discovered was that both the meditation group (Group 1) and the group that worked with the therapy dogs (Group 2) both showed reduced amounts of anxiety/negative mental being. But, it was only the meditation group (Group 1) that showed a decrease in being able to actually calm the stress response once stressed (They were able to drop their heart rate back very quickly). The group that did nothing (Group 3) did not see any changes in either anxiety or stress.
This just reinforces to me the importance of being able to pay attention to what your body is telling you so that you can control it and is a perfect example of how mindfulness can be beneficial. It has definitely made me more open to the how mindfulness and meditation can help me as a college student both physically and psychologically. It also showed me the importance of the human-animal bond. Even though the therapy dogs didn’t decrease the stress response, they still helped with anxiety/mental well-being which makes a lot of sense to me because I feel like my dog is one of my best support systems.
Shearer, A., Hunt, M., Chowdhury, M., & Nicol, L. (2016). Effects of a brief mindfulness meditation intervention on student stress and heart rate variability. International Journal of Stress Management, 23(2), 232-254. doi:10.1037/a0039814