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Meditation, stress, and college students FINAL

Meditation, stress, and college students FINAL -...

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Introduction: Chronic stress is one of America’s most prevalent mental health disorders (Seaward, 2003) and trigger for poor physical health and lifestyle diseases (America’s). It is a problem faced by all demographics and socio-economic statuses, yet its negative impact upon college students is particularly provocative. Studies of undergraduate students find that stress among students has increased progressively over the last several decades, despite new campaigns and efforts toward stress reduction (Sax, 1997). An annual Health and Wellness survey of college students has consistently found that stress ranks first as the biggest health risk and impediment to academic success among students at Lewis and Clark College (Wellnotes). Stress is an epidemic that needs widespread recognition and a definitive reduction effort. It is a risk to both mental and physical health, yet it can be significantly diminished through positive lifestyle change. Journal writing, humor therapy, social support, prayer, yoga, and music therapy have all been heralded as stress reduction techniques (Gregson, 2000, p.33). The Wellness page on the Lewis and Clark website points to numerous campus resources that can enable students to cope with stress. They list, “Your RA, student support services, the Counseling Center, Career advising, the Health Center, Academic Advising, Pamplin Athletic Center, and student financial services” (among others) as tools that can manifest greater health and reduced stress (Campus). However, as stress continues to be a problem at Lewis and Clark and across U.S. Colleges, even greater campaigns and health interventions aimed at stress-reduction are necessary. This study is particularly interested the potential of meditation to reduce stress 1
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amongst Lewis and Clark students. It is interested in the potential of meditation both because of prior research heralding its ability to reduce stress and anxiety through practice and because it poses a particular challenge; meditation is often perceived as ‘alternative’ or ‘strange’ and thus dismissed. It is thus especially important that the health messaging used to prompt such a lifestyle intervention is adequately grounded in theory that works to fulfill the explicit wants and needs of LC students. In an attempt to determine the ideal health intervention strategy promoting meditation as a stress reduction technique for Lewis and Clark students, this study asks: 1. What evidence is there to support meditation as an adequate stress-reduction technique amongst college students? 2. How can meditation as a stress-reduction lifestyle change be best introduced to Lewis and Clark students? a. What do LC students say they need in order to implement meditation into their daily life?
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