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Audrey Wint Mental Health Uncategorized

Meditation: A Tool For Non-Traditional College Students

by Audrey Wint RYT 200

I decided to explore the question, “How can meditation help lower stress in non-traditional college students?”.  The “why” behind my question focuses on why is it so important to lower stress, especially for non-traditional students and what we can do about it. A non-traditional student is one that is generally older, may have a family and children, and may be holding down part-time or full-time job. The academic journey comes along with stress as is and when you throw in a challenge like work, life, and school, balancing it can cause added stress. This paper will explore the history of meditation, address potential adverse effects, explain why meditation is a valuable and accessible resource to help manage stress for non-traditional college students, and elaborate on why it’s relevant to community health. 

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Meditation is based on a practice that originally began in India around 1500 BCE and then spread to surrounding countries such as Japan and eventually the United States of America. The practice involves “seeing things as they really are” and begins with the individual observing their breath, physical sensations, thoughts, and emotional states as they arise in the present moment. (Lustyk, 2009, p. 20). Non-traditional students with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) could have the potential experience of flashbacks, hallucinations, and feelings of depression. Epileptic students have the potential to experience hallucinations, panic, and or tension. Spiritual students could have the potential experience of religious delusions and meditation “addiction” (Lustyk, 2009, p. 22-23). Therefore, the mental, physical, and spiritual health of the non-traditional student should be taken into consideration before practicing meditation. If adverse feelings and emotions become more serious the student should seek guidance from a teacher they trust or seek professional medical assistance. 

Meditation should be practiced by non-traditional students because it is an effective holistic therapy that supports cognitive health. The components of Meditation include the following: attention regulation, body awareness, emotion regulation, and change in perspective on the self (Hölzel, 2011, p. 539). Self-reported and experimental behavior findings revealed that meditation contributed to enhanced performance which is associated with the brain’s anterior cingulate cortex and increased scores on enhanced body awareness associated to the brain’s insula, temporo-parietal junction. It also showed increase in positive reappraisal which is associated with the brain’s (dorsal) prefrontal cortex, increase in no reactivity to inner experiences associated to the brain’s hippocampus and amygdala, and change in self-concept associated with the brain’s medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, insula, temporo-parietal junction (Hölzel, 2011, p. 539). The impact that meditation has on the brain is extraordinary because the individual can change the way their brain processes information and their reactions by focusing their attention on the present moment and breathing. Meditation is an amazing holistic practice that allows students to control their stress by simply using their mind. Once a non-traditional student begins to form a consistent practice of meditation, they will recognize that they are thinking differently and possibly more optimistically leading to a better quality of life with less worry and less anxiety. 

Meditation is convenient and affordable. Meditation is virtually accessible anytime and anywhere. In the year 2020 there are so many outlets that allow us to practice meditation and some of them are free. For example, Mindful Meditation can be done comfortably at home sitting in a chair, a meditation pillow, or even in bed. If students don’t know where to begin their meditation or how to start there are now online channels and mobile applications that provide thousands of different guided meditations depending on what is most beneficial to the individual. To name a few: Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer, and many more are associated with the mobile application route. The online meditations are free and mobile application meditations can be purchased at an extremely low price with a student discount. There are also resources such as magazines and books from the library that provide insight for guided meditations with various yoga teachers and mediation experts. Another route for guided meditation could be in the student fitness center located on campus or a local yoga studio. Here a student can incorporate yoga exercise and mindfulness at the same time with a certified instructor. Yoga has been associated with mindful movement connecting the body and mind. When it comes minimizing financial obligations and seeking help there is an ever-growing community as well as resources that help non-traditional students tackle stress. 

For our community, the accessibility and awareness to a holistic therapy like meditation would help address and prevent substance use, a coping skill commonly found among stressed non-traditional students. Stress can lead to students dropping out along with individuals and families continuing to struggle while continuing to be trapped in the socioeconomic struggle that determines their health outcomes. I would like to see a world where the rate of stressed out non-traditional students and students goes down and the rate of self-awareness and mindful meditation increases creating a better quality of life for society with less stressed individuals. 

I hope to encourage research and spread the message to non-traditional students about a coping mechanism, like mindful meditation, that helps them to manage stress, be resilient and push back against adversity while continuing their education so that they may thrive in every dimension of health. 

Mental Health Information

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): 1-800-950-NAMI (6264). If you are in a crisis or looking for mental health information, you can call NAMI’s helpline for free support.

Headspace Student Plan :

https://www.headspace.com/studentplan

@MorganHarperNichols

Amazon Links

Meditation Cushion 

Practicing Mindfulness Book 

References

Lustyk, M. K. B., Chawla, N., Nolan, R. S., & Marlatt, G. A. (2009). Mindfulness meditation 

research: issues of participant screening, safety procedures, and researchers training. Advances in Mind-Body Medicine, 24(1), 21-27. Retrieved from 

Cho, H., Ryu, S., Noh, J., & Lee, J. (2016). The Effectiveness of Daily Mindful Breathing Practices on Test Anxiety of Students. PLoS One, 11(10), E0164822.

Hölzel, B., Lazar, S., Gard, T., Schuman-Olivier, Z., Vago, D., & Ott, U. (2011). How Does Mindfulness Meditation Work? Proposing Mechanisms of Action From a Conceptual and Neural Perspective. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6(6), 537-559. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41613530

Yeung, D., & Martin, M. (2013). Interventions to Promote Spiritual Fitness. In Spiritual Fitness and Resilience: A Review of Relevant Constructs, Measures, and Links to Well-Being (pp. 31-33). RAND Corporation. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/j.ctt5hhv6n.9

Newman, M. G., Llera, S. J., Erickson, T. M., Przeworski, A., & Castonguay, L. G. (2013). Worry and Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Review and Theoretical Synthesis of Evidence on Nature, Etiology, Mechanisms, and Treatment. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology9, 275–297. http://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-050212-185544

Carriero, J. (2009). The Second Meditation. In Between Two Worlds: A Reading of Descartes’s Meditations (pp. 65-127). Princeton University Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7sv63.7

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Intellectual Health Isabela Collins Mental Health Occupational Health Social Health

Transitioning to Life Outside of College

By Isabela Collins


College can be some of the best years of your life.  You are creating lifelong memories with friends along with finding a career path you are passionate about, all while living it up—young and carefree. It can be tough letting that go to start in the “real world”. As kids we envy and long to soon be adults, not knowing how scary and unknown it truly can be. I would compare adulthood and real life to improv; making it up as you go.

I experienced this first hand. Receiving my degree felt new and exciting as I finally headed out into adulthood. I didn’t even think there was going to be a transition. I thought I would make friends right off the bat at my new job, in a new city, while still keeping in touch with my college buddies like nothing has changed. Well, girl was I wrong!  The real world smacked me right in the face and I had no clue how to deal. From going out almost every night and skipping class whenever you chose, to now waking up at the crack of dawn and heading to the less than perfect entry level job, you really take those 4 years for granted. Now that I am a couple years post graduation, I have found myself settling in pretty nicely. The following are some tips I used after I passed my denial stage and saw myself starting to thrive. I hope they benefit you as well during your adaptation to this new world. 

Some things to keep in mind while you start your transition:

Acknowledge the transition. Be honest with yourself and others about the challenges you are having. You have to accept that things are changing. It may be scary but nothing can stay the same forever.  

Realize that the future and “real world” is unpredictable. You may not know what the future holds for you and you will never have all the answers. There will be uncertainty, and that is OK!

You are not alone. More people are struggling with this transition than you think. 

Trying to maintain relationships, juggling a new, full time job and whatever else you have going on in life can be difficult. You are used to being around a great college community and friends, so it’s natural that you may feel a little alone now. Being aware that there are others who are going through these same difficulties may help comfort you with this process. Find support groups and reach out to others in your new job.  You might possibly even make a friend! 

Erase expectations on what you think others think you should do. There is so much pressure to figure out what is next after you graduate. The stress of finding a job you enjoy, that pays well is much harder than others realize. Most undergraduates are in their early 20’s, with plenty of time to figure out what is next. Whether you decide to start your career, travel the world or just lay low back at your parents house, do not feel pressured to follow the status quo, when in reality that is hard to come by.

Do not compare your journey to others. As happy as you may be for others, it can be discouraging to see them grow into the next part of their life while you feel stuck. Do not let that unmotivate you. Everyone has a different timeline and there is no rush. It is best to take the time to figure out what you really want in life, rather than getting into something that makes you unhappy. Being in our 20s is the time to figure out ourselves and what we want. 

Create and maintain healthy relationships. It makes a difference to have a good support group. Keep in touch with old college friends while branching out to new people that you didn’t attend school with. This will help you step out of that college bubble.

Find healthy hobbies that you enjoy. Learn how to cook a real meal other than ramen, start exercising, pick up meditating; whatever you find interesting. Hobbies can be a great way to give someone a purpose in life. Many feel hopeless during this transition because they think they’re trapped doing the same routine of wake up, work, eat, sleep and repeat. I have found some guided meditation apps such as Calm to be a great resource. Meditating helps me unplug and decompress while I am able to sit with my thoughts to really get to know myself on a deeper level and help me think more clearly. Do not be afraid to start something new. It is also a great way to meet new people.

Embrace any fear you have during this journey. Use it to learn and grow from this experience. You will appreciate yourself more when it is over. 

You won’t have the rest of your life figured out, just enjoy the experience and look forward to what is next, whatever life has planned for you. Use this as a foundation and take it as it comes, one step at a time.