Tests, examinations, assignments, peer pressure, bullying, student loans – the seemingly carefree and fun years of a student’s life are jam-packed with a lot of anxiety and troubles. The collective load of everything often gets too many of the students who have no other choice but to endure and get through with it.
Add to this the stress of having fancy degree-holder parents.
The sad truth is many give up along the way. Mental disorders despite all this freedom of expression remains a sensitive topic. Nobody is a stranger to mental pressure but sometimes it’s way more than an individual can handle. The worst part about all this bottled depression is its lack of expression. The signs and damage done are not noticeable until it’s too late.
This is not just a handful of students we’re talking about. It’s probably every other teenager.
- There are about 31.9% of adolescents that suffer from anxiety disorder amongst which females are more likely to have an anxiety disorder.
- Moreover, anxiety and depression are so common such that teens claim that about 70% of their peers and acquaintances struggle with depression every day.
- It’s getting worse by the day ever since the number of people having suicidal thoughts has doubled from 2008 to 2017.
- Sadly, the numbers didn’t stagnate here and suicide rates reached a record high in 2019.
The Culprits behind the Depression
The numbers are likely to increase after the pandemic with the necessary social distancing and the trend of online classes. However, a major contributor to this anxiety is a lack of mindfulness for students. Students have to multitask and absorb everything in their daily lives that many activities become a formality. The overload of everything often overwhelms the child. If they don’t keep up they’ll be left behind.
- Social Media: The effects of social media are still controversial but it looks like they’re more detrimental than positive. The inferiority complex and left out feeling that teenagers go through often makes them sad. While on the other hand, cyber-bullying has become a serious issue.
- Information Overload: Six to eight hours of school with calculus and French and geography all packed in. it can be very challenging for students to retain so much information each day every day.
- Tests and Examinations: The most stressful time of the year for any student is definitely the examinations. It’s somewhat unfair to judge a whole year’s progress with just one criterion and one paper. Many students are overcome with depression of not performing well enough that might affect their scholarships in the future.
- Student Loans: Scholarships and financial aid seem like great options until it’s time to repay them. It can get so stressful working your days away to repay the loans that students don’t get time for mindfulness activities.
Mindfulness for Students
When I refer to mindfulness what do I mean? It means awareness of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the surrounding environment. With students experiencing life in a blur, they only get a chance to superficially inspect the things around them.
If only, students can develop an ability to concentrate and fully focus on things they can live life at the moment and feel less tensed. The ideal approach to develop mindfulness for students is thinking of the brain as a muscle. If you wish to make your muscles more durable and strong you need to train it with exercise. Mindfulness is the exercise of the brain.
Benefits of Mindfulness
The practice of mindfulness has been used by many religious scholars for centuries now only in different forms. Be it Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, or Christianity – each one has proved that mindfulness is the path to achieve pure eternal happiness. This is because your mind responds to one thing at a time rather than overdriving the brain with numerous tabs. That’s because mindfulness has numerous advantages.
- Increased Happiness: Well, obviously the first benefit is that you’ll rid yourself of the unnecessary sorrows and sadness.
- Emotionally Stable: When you know you’ve got your activities and interactions in check and you’re more trained to face situations, you automatically feel like you’re in control of your feelings.
- Enhanced Coping Strategies: Practicing mindfulness activities makes you prone to control your feelings and anxiety. You’re capable of looking at situations more pragmatically.
- Memory Retention: With your mind free of attending to irrelevant stuff, you’ve got more capacity to store information and details.
- Improved Critical Thinking: You’ll find yourself more productive and practical because anxiety often captivates your mind within limits.
Physical benefits of mindfulness:
- Improved Immunity: We often believe that only external and physical stimuli can weaken the immune system but truth be told, many psychological factors can have a similar effect. So a healthy mind means a healthy body.
- Better Circulation: Blood pressure is also a condition often associated with mental health. Extreme stress can elevate blood pressure considerably but with mindfulness, you can have a healthy heart.
- Reduced Physical Responses to Stress: When under stress the body responds to it with various impulses. Increased heartbeat, adrenaline secretion, heightened senses are some to name. Although these are beneficial responses repeatedly it can be concerning. With mindfulness activities, you can train your mind to respond within certain limits.
In a 2015 study, half of 4th and 5th graders were chosen for a 12-week Social and emotional learning (SEL) program. After the training, the students that received mindfulness training scored higher in maths, had 24% better socializing skills, and were 20% less aggressive.
Exercises for Mindfulness
Breathing exercise: Focus on your breathing. Breathe in through your nose and exhale from your mouth. Focus on your breathing pattern, the number of breaths, how long you can hold your breath? What changes to your abdomen do you feel?
Elevating the five senses: While doing the breathing exercise, make it more interesting by focusing on your senses as well. Have some various and extreme flavors in front of you like sugar, lemon, mustard, etc. and concentrate on what the flavor feels like. Then get some fragrances and evaluate what each smells makes you visualize. Is it serenity? Is it flowers?
Learn self-compassion: Feeling negative about yourself can be easy but keeping yourself motivated and loved can be an on and off process. For this start, by listing characteristics you like about yourself. Then move onto responses that you were proud of, situations that you handled well. Then write down incidents when you felt you’d fail but actually aced it.
Self-assessment: If you’ve done something you’re proud of you to deserve the appreciation but if you’ve done something wrong, hold yourself accountable before anybody else does. Only when you know what needs to be corrected about yourself you learn to be more mindful of your actions.
The importance of mindfulness is not only limited to adolescents but people of all ages. Mindfulness can transform how you perceive things and respond to them. Additionally, exercise is very basic that anyone can perform at home. So get started now and live your life in the moment.