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Mindfulness for Students: Five Tips That Will Improve Your Studies

13 Nov 2018
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University students are bombarded with daily distractions that keep them from concentrating on the work they need to do and achieving their goals.

The good news is you can bypass these distractions and live in the ‘here and now’ by applying mindfulness in your everyday life – but wait…


What Is Mindfulness?

With all the distractions in our lives, it’s easy to lose touch with the world around us. Mindfulness is a remedy for that; it’s a way of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation and mindful breathing. It helps you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings so that, instead of being overwhelmed by them, you can be better at managing them.

Not sure how mindfulness can benefit your studies? Let us count the ways.


1. Boost Focus and Concentration

Let’s face it: with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and many other social media apps constantly demanding our attention, it can feel impossible to stay focused in today’s high-tech environment. However, you can better anchor the mind, create space to become more aware of your own thoughts and feelings, and stay in the present moment with mindfulness training – yes, even if you’re the type that easily gets distracted by every beep and buzz your phone makes!

According to research in Consciousness and Cognition, people who practise mindfulness meditation tend to have higher attention spans and cognitive flexibility compared to those who don’t.



2. Enhance Memory

Practising mindfulness can go a long way in increasing your ability to absorb information and retain it, which is vital to your studies because having a sharp memory is key to university success. Unfortunately, the constant lack of focus means it can be difficult for many students to remember things they’ve learned, but you can learn to pay better attention and direct your thoughts and actions to learning by being mindful.

Recent studies reveal that mindful attention can improve motivation and episodic memory, including one in Psychological Science, which found that students who did mindfulness exercises showed better short-term memory and were less susceptible to distractions.


3. Promote Creative Thinking

Did you know that in the UK, 2.8 million are employed specifically in the creative industries? In a time when creativity is just another element of the job description, mindfulness can really set you up for lifelong success beyond your uni years.

The creative process draws on a number of different thinking styles, but many (creative) people struggle to establish the right condition for creativity to emerge: the perfect balance between ‘freestyle’ thinking and ‘control’. Through mindfulness training, you can become attuned to the present moment, increasing your capacity to observe different thinking styles and your ability to navigate the creative process more easily. By being mindful, you can achieve the best results by allowing ideas to flow freely and then using a more critical style of thinking to refine them.



4. Improve Productivity

Whether you’re struggling with your uni workload or not, mindfulness can help you be more productive and improve the quality of your work.

Attention training is the foundation of all mindfulness practices, in which you make the effort to let go of your attachment to thinking and open yourself to become more aware of the assignment at hand – thus allowing you to finish the task with higher precision. There’s a large body of research to prove that mindfulness training can improve our ability to orient attention and to be less distracted, including this study that showed measurable improvements in attention control after only five days of exercising mindfulness.


5. Reduce Stress and Anxiety

University is a high-pressure environment; there’s a lot of questioning, critical analysis, feedback, and reflection, and it can be easy to become self-critical. All these constant demands can cause some students to develop anxiety – for these students, practicing mindfulness regularly can help reduce anxiety by reducing the stress hormones in the body.

A study published by The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry concluded that a group of participants who took part in a mindfulness program for eight weeks proved to be less susceptible to anxiety and depression, even when confronted with negative stimuli.

(Wellbeing and learning goes hand in hand. If you suspect a flatmate or a friend is suffering from some form of anxiety disorder, find out what you can do to help.)



Be More Mindful

Mindfulness is a simple yet powerful antidote to habitual multitasking (which you can expect to do a lot of in uni!) helping you be more effective as a student – whether you’re studying, sitting in a lecture hall, or spending time with friends.

If you want to improve the quality of your uni life, be sure to check out our blog for more health tips – from what to eat to how to spot mental health problems.