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The best universities bet on Mindfulness against stress

The best universities bet on Mindfulness against stress

January 22, 2022

Stress can be a problem of great dimensions and devastating effects for university students, who are subjected to much pressure for various reasons. Fortunately, in the last decades A powerful tool has emerged to combat it: Mindfulness .

In this article we will see the example of the best universities in the world when using Programs based on Mindfulness to reduce stress in students .

  • Related article: "5 Mindfulness exercises to improve your emotional well-being"

What are the "academic stressors" that college students face?

The "academic" stressors can be classified into two groups, which are the following.


Internal stressors

Self-imposed pressure , that is, the height at which each student places the "ribbon" of efficiency as well as their expectations of achievement.

External stressors

Situations in the environment that generate tension and demand as for example, exams, oral presentations, group practices , the difficulties in assimilating the contents of the syllabus, the time management, the lack of socialization with other classmates, making work compatible with the studies in order to pay for them ...

What are the warning signs of stress?

Some of the symptoms are reflected in the body, they have physical effects:


  • Drowsiness , for lack of hours of sleep.
  • Insomnia or difficulties falling asleep.
  • Fatigue, fatigue .
  • Headaches.
  • Stomach pains and / or irritable bowel
  • Bruxism (tension in the jaws).
  • Back pains.
  • Muscle contractions
  • Tachycardia or palpitations.
  • Increase or decrease of appetite .
  • Frequent colds, by a lowering of the defenses.

Other symptoms affect mood and cognitive and emotional aspects:


  • Constant restlessness
  • Sadness, discouragement
  • Low motivation
  • Lack of concentration or difficulties to concentrate.
  • Difficulty thinking (staying blank or blocked).
  • Hyperactivity
  • Memory problems, forgetfulness or frequent confusions.
  • Irritability .
  • Fear of not meeting the objectives or expectations.
  • Anxiety and / or frequent crying.

Also, there is a third type of symptoms that affect behavior:


  • Irascibility, tendency to argue with others.
  • Isolation, need to be alone .
  • Use of drugs to be awake or to sleep.
  • Increase in the consumption of coffee and / or tobacco .
  • Skip class.
  • Prioritize other activities on the study.
  • Stop doing regular leisure activities or sports, by lack of appetite, lack of energy or demotivation.

How does Mindfulness help to better manage student stress?

In recent years Mindfulness (translated from English as "mindfulness" or "mindfulness") has become a tool proven effective by numerous scientific studies to reduce stress levels and increase resilience, greatly helping to improve the welfare of the students.


Mindfulness is pay attention deliberately to what happens, as is happening , as an impartial observer, without adding value judgments that alter our perception of reality, without shying away from feelings, emotions or thoughts that may arise, even if they are unpleasant, all added to a kind attitude towards ourselves and towards others. This special way of facing life has innumerable advantages, which could be summarized in four areas:

  • Performance in studies : more capacity for attention, concentration and memory.
  • Psychological well-being : stress reduction and more resilience.
  • physical well-being : greater awareness of the body and less suffering due to pain.
  • Better interpersonal relationships , enhancing empathy and compassionate attitude.

Precisely, by increasing the levels of attention to mind and body - skill that is trained with the practice of Mindfulness - students can become aware of their general state, preventing or regulating their stress with measures of self-care, preventing their performance academic and their physical and psychological well-being are seriously affected.


The practice of Mindfulness is not difficult or complex : consists of a series of attention, concentration, relaxation and meditation exercises, being enough to dedicate a few minutes a day to create the habit, so that its effects are more powerful and stable over time.

It is very important that the Mindfulness training is done with a properly accredited instructor, with extensive experience and personally committed to the practice. Keep in mind that Mindfulness It requires a practical and experiential learning , based on the experience of each one with the accompaniment of a qualified Instructor.

  • You may be interested: "Nerves and stress: what is anxiety for?"

The best universities in the world bet on Mindfulness

In recent years, the most prestigious universities in the world have implemented Mindfulness programs to improve student performance, reduce their anxiety and increase their resilience.

The best universities in the world (Harvard, Yale, New York, Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia in the United States, Cambridge, Oxford, London School of Economics in the United Kingdom and Melbourne in Australia, among others) They have incorporated a variety of Mindfulness programs and workshops into their student wellness programs throughout the year. To give concrete examples, let's see what some of them propose:

Harvard University

Harvard University offers meditation sessions every day of the week in specially equipped rooms, a 4-week program of its own. Mindfulness-based stress reduction program (MBSR) in 8 weeks , in two annual editions, in addition to other audiovisual resources and a specialized blog. The Harvard Law School Mindfulness Society student organization provides resources and organizes meditation groups.

Stanford University

The University of Stanford, program a specific course for the students of first year of 6 weeks, in two editions during the course. Second and third year students also have Mindfulness workshops that give them credits in their curricular trajectory. Besides, there are also weekly meditation sessions.

University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge also has a very varied and daily offer for the practice of Mindfulness, offering courses of stress reduction in 8 weeks (MBSR) and a series of quarterly workshops Focused, respectively, to enhance attention and concentration, to manage test anxiety, to relax and rest and to make conscious decisions to better manage time and meet deadlines.

Oxford University

The University of Oxford offered its first full-attention course in 2011-12 and since then, hundreds of students have participated in the MBSR programs, with very positive results .

Benefits shown in evidences

The evaluation of all Mindfulness programs facilitated in these university environments clearly indicates that it increases the capacity for recovery, self-awareness and attention and concentration of students, helping them to improve their learning experience and to manage their work more effectively.

A study by the University of Cambridge that involved more than 600 students concluded that the introduction of eight-week Mindfulness courses in UK universities could help prevent mental illness and increase student welfare at a time of growing concern for mental health in the higher education sector. Mental health university services have experienced a large increase in their demand. The number of students who accessed this service increased by 50% between 2010 and 2015.

According to the study published in The Lancet Public Health magazine in December 2017, the prevalence of mental illness among first-year students is lower than among the general population. These levels increase when young people are in the second year of university.

In view of all this, we should consider the introduction of welfare plans for students so that their academic training is accompanied by solid personal preparation through personal development resources such as Mindfulness.

Author: Ferran Garcia de Palau Garcia-Faria


Responsible for the Mindfulness and Personal Growth Area of ​​PSICOTOOLS. Accredited Instructor of the MBSR program of Stress Reduction based on Mindfulness of the University of Massaschussetts. Certified instructor (Certified Trainer) of mindfulness for children and adolescents of the Eline Snel method (Academy for Mindful Teaching - AMT). Member of the Mindfulness Professional Instructors Association - MBSR. Member of the Spanish Association of Mindfulness and Compassion (AEMIND). Member of the Wellness Committee of the Advocacy Mental Health Institute.

Bibliographic references:

  • Polo A, Hernández J M, Poza C. Evaluation of academic stress in university students. Anxiety and Stress Magazine. nineteen ninety six; 2 (2-3): 159-172.
  • Reig A, Cabrero J, Ferrer R I, Richard, M. Quality of life and health status of university students. Alicante Virtual Library Miguel de Cervantes; 2001. Available at: //www.cervantesvirtual.com
  • Galante J, Dufour G, Vainre M, Wagner A, Stochl, J, Benton, A, et al. A mindfulness-based intervention to increase resilience to stress in university students (the Mindful Student Study): a pragmatic randomized controlled trial. The Lancet Public Health, articles | VOLUME 3, ISSUE 2, PE72-E81, 01 February, 2018.

Meditation as Medicine: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (January 2022).


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