Students at the Heart Conference: Trialling mindfulness in lectures

A NEW project to help reduce mental stress and aid academic performance is being tried out by lecturers in LJMU’s School of Education.

Drs Aisling Culshaw and Kalum Bodfield are taking their first-year degree students on a series of mindfulness exercises, such as chair-yoga, colouring in and ‘five senses’ grounding techniques.

“It’s all about managing negative emotions,” explains Kalum. “Students arrive with all sorts of stresses flying around in their heads and we just want to centre them, ground them if you like, and say ‘forget about the outside world for a moment, this is your safe place’.”

Research consistently shows that students experience higher levels of stress and mental health issues and the pair believe low level interventions can be important.

Alongside encouraging students to keep a wellbeing journal and to reflect on their academic planning, the pair decided to make time for a fun five minutes at the start of sessions.

A survey of students taking part in initial trials found a majority felt it beneficial and wanted to continue, albeit among small numbers.

Comments collected included: ’I found it easier to focus on the lesson’ and ‘It’s managing how we feel and I don’t think anyone else does this’.

One student commented: ‘In my day I don’t take enough time for myself and consider the importance of being mindful’.

“It took a few weeks for them to warm to it and we are careful not to impose but it has gone well,” said Aisling.

“Hopefully, we’re giving students a sense of mindfulness which they can take and apply elsewhere in their day.”

Aisling and Kalum presented at the Students at the Heart Conference, session 11 – ‘Curriculum for wellbeing – embedding regulation strategies into undergraduate programmes’.


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