Stress has been over time a common phenomenon in human beings, especially when there is much surrounding the atmosphere which affects the person either physically or psychologically (Davidson & Kaszniak, 2015). Most teenagers and a greater percentage of university students experience this kind of phenomenon maybe due to deadlines to meet in assignments and academic related activities. Mindfulness has been a method that is thought to help in the reduction of stresses and thus has been practiced with some with the intention to manage stresses (Davidson, & Sheridan, 2018). Mindfulness could be defined as a state of being mindful or unmindful in one’s life. This includes the moments of meditation, body scan or breathing meditation. The aim of practicing mindfulness is to make the body aware of the surrounding stimulus and factors that affect one’s state of mind or physical changes. The body is thought to be in a relaxed mode when the stimulus that surround it are in sync with the body itself (Ortner, Kilner, & Zelazo, 2018). This in turn should help in managing stresses through a relaxing modes of meditations which are usually prescribed in different ways depending on one’s preference or the level of stress. Steve and Debbie have different views whether if exercising mindfulness could be a method of relieving stress and this forms the basis of our research to determine if mindfulness could be a suitable method in managing stress.
Research Question and Justification
There has been a common practice that whenever one is undergoing stress, they engage themselves in meditation practices like breathing exercises which are thought to be stress relieving (Katterman & Corsica, 2014). Steve agrees that stress is common among his peers and thus mindfulness should be taught in universities and encouraged to be a common practice as a way to reduce stresses. On the contrary, Debbie thinks that the state of mindfulness has nothing to do with relieving stresses and terms it as a millennial thing. The research is aimed at identifying the need and importance of mindfulness and whether or not it could be a method of relieving stress.
We employed the use of semi structured interviews in the collection of our data. The target was to collect some of the experiences that the university students face while in the universities and how they impact them about increasing their stress levels (Thompson, & Waltz, 2015). Later a thematic analysis was done on the data where we were required to identify, analyze and report patterns of themes from the data collected in relation to stress agents and stress relieving practices. The collected data was solely used in the identification of themes unlike using the theoretical pre-existing data framework. The analysis worked on the assumption that the information provided by the students was honest and reflected accurately on their experiences while in the university (Tang & Posner, 2015).
A sample size of 120 third-year students that pursued physiotherapy course were used for our research. The students were required to attend a session that introduced them formally to mindfulness and how to apply it in their personal and professional life. From the session, only 21 students agreed to proceed with the research and hence they were randomly allocated into two groups either mindful stress reduction or mindful movement. The two groups were designed to cover mindfulness in different ways but with the central aim of relieving stresses.
Mindful stress reduction involved the introduction of different application of mindfulness like informal practices and sitting meditation (Bowen & Marlatt, 2014). The practices were to be continued in every day of their lives for the success of the research. Part of the time was allocated in discussing of the challenges faced and the benefits gained during the meditation exercises.
The mindful movement group also covered the same applications of mindfulness but their informal practices were based on the mindfulness movement. There were exercises designed for the mindfulness movement which all of the participants were encouraged to for them as part of their life. A clinical psychologist and an expert in mindfulness led through both groups through the research exercise.
The exercise program was designed to last for six weeks and an interview was to follow that would get the experiences of the students that participated. Another interview was also to be done as a follow up interview which was to determine the effects, challenges and the benefits of the earlier conducted mindful exercises. A 46-minute interview was recorded therefore after the exercise where the participants provided their feedback on the exercises. The questions covered for the interview aimed at getting their views on the effects of mindfulness on aspects of life, relationship to self, awareness of thoughts, awareness of attention and the relevance of mindfulness to the participants’ physiotherapists (Zeidan, & Goolkasian, 2019).
Results and analysis
All of the students that participated were interviewed immediately after the exercise but only 19 students were interviewed during the 6 weeks follow up interview. The average age of the students was 19.5 years which was an age close to Steve’s and relevant to this research. There was an even distribution of gender. A total of 40 interviews were analyzed and the experts sought to understand from the interviews the effects of mindfulness on stress reduction. All the participants gave out distinct views on their experiences but all these experiences centered on some main themes as discussed in this report.
There was increased self- awareness in their physical, emotional and mental states as they underwent the exercise. This was one of the key observations in relation to the mindfulness since it is supposed to create this awareness in order to balance the external stimuli with the body environment.
Most of the participants recorded an improvement in their mental health since there was an excellent performance in their grades. There also as improvement in self-care. Most of them agreed that they were able after the research to manage their lives easily. Their communication also improved since they were able to practice some counseling sessions. Their study engagement abilities were remarkably good since they were able to control their class concentration and even during their personal studies. However, there were challenges experienced such as most of them were unable to make their practice consistent due to time balancing. During the exercise, most of them were motivated using the peer influence.
From the research and analysis, it can be deduced that the mindfulness exercises could be a great stress reliever. However, it is not easy to maintain a routine for the exercises (Astin, 2016). Stress among university students could therefore be easily reduced by the application of the mindfulness practices.
Astin, J. A., (2016). Stress reduction through mindfulness meditation. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics, 66(2), 97-106.
Bowen, S., & Marlatt, G. A. (2014). Mindfulness meditation and substance use in an incarcerated population. Psychology of addictive behaviors, 20(3), 343.
Davidson, R. J., & Kaszniak, A. W. (2015). Conceptual and methodological issues in research on mindfulness and meditation. American Psychologist, 70(7), 581.
Davidson, R. J., & Sheridan, J. F. (2018). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic medicine, 65(4), 564-570.
Eberth, J., & Sedlmeier, P. (2017). The effects of mindfulness meditation: a meta-analysis. Mindfulness, 3(3), 174-189.
Katterman, S. N., & Corsica, J. A. (2014). Mindfulness meditation as an intervention for binge eating, emotional eating, and weight loss: a systematic review. Eating behaviors, 15(2), 197-204.
Ortner, C. N., Kilner, S. J., & Zelazo, P. D. (2018). Mindfulness meditation and reduced emotional interference on a cognitive task. Motivation and emotion, 31(4), 271-283.
Tang, Y, & Posner, M. I. (2015). The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 16(4), 213-225.
Thompson, B. L., & Waltz, J. (2015). Everyday mindfulness and mindfulness meditation: Overlapping constructs or not? Personality and Individual Differences, 43(7), 1875-1885.
Zeidan, F & Goolkasian, P. (2019). Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training. Consciousness and cognition, 19(2), 597-605.
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