While mindfulness has roots in ancient Eastern traditions, its benefits have been extensively studied and validated by modern science, making it a valuable skill for individuals of all ages, including college students.
Monday, April 8, 2024

In the whirlwind of academic pressures, social commitments, and personal growth, college life can sometimes feel like a balancing act on a tightrope. It's easy to lose touch with the present moment, allowing stress and anxiety to take control. However, there's a powerful tool that can help you navigate the challenges of university life with greater ease and resilience: mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the practice of intentionally focusing on the present moment, without judgment. It involves tuning into your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the environment around you, fostering a deeper sense of awareness and acceptance. While mindfulness has roots in ancient Eastern traditions, its benefits have been extensively studied and validated by modern science, making it a valuable skill for individuals of all ages, including college students.

By practicing mindfulness, you can cultivate a greater sense of clarity and focus, enabling you to tackle your academic work with enhanced efficiency and effectiveness. Research has shown that mindfulness meditation can improve attention span, working memory, and cognitive flexibility, all of which are crucial skills for success in college and beyond. By reducing stress and anxiety, mindfulness can enhance overall well-being and mental health, creating a more positive and fulfilling college experience.

In addition to its cognitive benefits, mindfulness can also foster deeper connections with others and promote a greater sense of empathy and compassion. In a fast-paced and competitive environment like college, it's easy to become self-absorbed and disconnected from those around us. However, by cultivating mindfulness, you can develop a greater appreciation for the people in your life and the experiences you share together. This can lead to more meaningful relationships, increased social support, and a greater sense of belonging.

Here are four mindfulness practices you can try out today:

Deep Breathing

Simply inhale slowly through your nose, then exhale slowly out through your nose or mouth. If it helps, you can inhale and exhale for the same amount of time; maybe four seconds. For bonus relaxation, focus on sending your breath down into your belly and expanding it like a balloon.

5 Senses Activity

This practice encourages you to tune into your sensory experience and focus on the sensations happening in the present moment.

Here's how you can do the Five Senses Activity:

  • Sight: Take a moment to look around you and notice five things you can see. Pay attention to the colors, shapes, and textures of your surroundings. Try to observe with curiosity, noticing even the smallest details.
  • Touch: Notice four things you can feel physically. It could be the texture of the ground beneath your feet, the warmth of sunlight on your skin, or the softness of fabric against your fingertips. Take a moment to fully experience the sensation of touch.
  • Hearing: Close your eyes if it helps you concentrate and identify three things you can hear. Allow yourself to fully immerse in the auditory experience.
  • Smell: Notice two distinct scents in your environment. It could be the smell of your coffee or perfume or the aroma of the air around you.
  • Taste: Finally focus on your sense of taste and identify one thing you can taste. It could be the lingering flavor of your last meal or the minty freshness of toothpaste. If you don't have anything to taste, you can simply focus on the sensations in your mouth, such as the feeling of your tongue against your teeth.

Body Scan

A body scan is a mindfulness practice that involves systematically directing attention to different parts of the body, starting from the toes and moving upward to the head. It helps increase awareness of physical sensations, relaxes the body, and promotes a sense of calm and presence.

Here's how to do a basic body scan:

  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position, with your spine straight and your body relaxed. Close your eyes if it helps you focus.
  • Begin by taking a few deep breaths, allowing your breath to flow naturally and rhythmically. Notice the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves your body.
  • Direct your attention to your toes. Notice any sensations, such as warmth, tingling, or tension. Take a moment to fully experience the sensations in your toes before moving on.
  • Slowly shift your attention upward, focusing on each part of the body in sequence. Move from your toes to the soles of your feet, then to your ankles, calves, knees, thighs, and so on, gradually scanning upward through your body.
  • As you scan each part of the body, pay attention to any sensations you encounter. Notice areas of tension, discomfort, or relaxation. Try to observe these sensations without judgment, simply acknowledging them as they arise.
  • If you encounter areas of tension or discomfort, bring your awareness to your breath. As you inhale, imagine breathing into the tense or tight area, allowing it to soften and relax with each breath.
  • Continue scanning upward through your body, moving from the torso to the arms, hands, shoulders, neck, and finally to the top of your head.
  • Once you've completed the scan, take a moment to experience your body as a whole. Notice the sensations of relaxation and calm that may have emerged during the practice.
  • When you're ready, gently bring your awareness back to your surroundings. Wiggle your fingers and toes, stretch if it feels good, and gradually open your eyes.


Expressing gratitude is a powerful way to acknowledge and appreciate the positive aspects of your life, fostering feelings of happiness, contentment, and connection with others.

Here's how you can practice expressing gratitude:

  • Mentally note three things you are grateful for.
  • Write down in a journal or in the notes or journal app on your phone what you are grateful for.
  • Call or text someone and tell them you are grateful for them.

Mindfulness is a powerful tool that can help you navigate the challenges of college with greater ease and resilience. By cultivating a deeper sense of awareness and acceptance, you can enhance your academic performance, improve your mental health, and foster more meaningful connections with others. So, whether you're feeling overwhelmed by exams, stressed about deadlines, or simply seeking a moment of peace amidst the chaos, remember to take a deep breath and bring your attention back to the present moment. The power of mindfulness is always within reach.

Student Wellness offers free mindfulness workshops and events to support you in developing your own mindfulness practice. See below for our upcoming programming.

  • Silent Retreat – Sunday, April 21st from 1-4pm in IMU 335
  • Mindfulness Workshop – Tuesdays, June 4th – 25th from 7-8:15pm via zoom

To learn more and register for these events, visit the student wellness website.