1. Emotional Management
One of the greatest challenges to academic success relates to learners’ emotions. This is true because so much of effective learning is connected to how emotions are managed. Academic persistence, motivation, and effort are all vital to effective learning and directly linked to emotional management.
2. Academic Anxiety
Anxiety is one emotion that can wreak havoc on committed students. A meta-analysis, for instance, looked at 126 studies involving 36,000 learners and found the more likely someone was to worry, the worse their academic performance would be. This was true when researchers looked at learners’ GPA, test grades, and other indicators. In some extreme cases, anxiety lead to panic attacks that were both detrimental to learner well-being and academic success.
3. Applying Mindfulness to School
So, if emotional management is so important for learners, what can they do to be both happier and more successful in their studies? One suggestion comes from Stanford Neurosurgeon James Doty who promotes mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is the art and practice of bringing attention to the present moment. An exercise might involve closing your eyes, focusing on the sensation of breathing for ten to fifteen minutes, and bringing attention back to the sensation of breath when distracting thoughts enter your mind. Mindfulness is like a workout for your brain that many say leads to higher levels of focus, contentment, and relaxation.
While more research on mindfulness may be needed to garner scientific consensus, initial findings are positive. A 2015 meta-analysis, for instance, indicated that programs teaching mindfulness meditation had a positive effect on a wide variety of mental states, including anxiety. There is also evidence that mindfulness meditation may lead to positive structural changes in the brain in regions like the amygdala, part of the brain that influences anxiety and fear.
5. Learners who Practice
The science is young, but the benefits of mindfulness meditation are extolled by many practitioners. Learners who practice mindfulness meditation may find themselves experiencing levels of focus and contentedness they didn’t think otherwise possible.
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