Mindfulness Offers Long Term Solution to Manage College Student Stress and Improve Health

Dec 11, 2013, 11:07 ET from American Marketing Association

CHICAGO, Dec. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Mindfulness-based interventions offer a long-term solution to manage stress and unhealthy eating habits on college campuses.

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The cognitive resources needed to regulate decisions and behaviors are limited. Stress further depletes these resources making it harder to exert self-control related to smoking, drinking, and eating. College students who are particularly vulnerable to stress often lack the required resources to make conscious choices and succumb to mindless behaviors.

A new study, Mindfulness: A Long-Term Solution for Mindless Eating by College Students, published in the current issue of the American Marketing Association's Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, proposes mindfulness as a solution to the problem of mindless eating. Mindfulness refers to a trait and secular practice that promotes awareness, non-judgment, and curiosity from moment to moment. The authors use the combined lens of neuroscience, psychology, and consumer behavior to show that mindfulness-based interventions can inform marketing and public policy to support healthy lifestyles on college campuses.

The study's research shows mindfulness as a trait is negatively related to overeating and skipping meals. Students who practiced mindfulness were more mindful and less likely to engage in poor eating behaviors. There is evidence from neuroscience that people can learn to be mindful by practicing mindfulness, which brings structural changes to the brain. "Just as exercise changes the body's physical shape and strength, mindfulness changes the brain in ways that support more conscious choices and less reactivity," write authors (Shalini Bahl, George R. Milne, Spencer M. Ross, and Kwong Chan). The article presents a compelling case that mindfulness offers long-term sustainable changes to behavior that are otherwise hard to sustain with self-regulation alone, especially during times of stress.

College students are under enormous stress to fit in, maintain high grades, and deal with job insecurities.

This has led many young adults to abuse drugs, alcohol, and other stimulants, which is increasingly becoming the norm. The authors offer a three-pronged approach to benefit college students: First, policy to subsidize mindfulness programs on campuses; Second, academic institutions to include mindfulness as part of the regular curricula; Finally, academic institutions should use marketing to change the stereotype of mindfulness from something practiced by monks or depressed people to depicting the wide spectrum of people practicing it including celebrities from sports and the movies, and popular corporations like Google and Patagonia. New smartphone apps and creative solutions be made available to fit in with students' needs for meditation on the go.

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Contact: Christopher Bartone – 312.542.9029 – cbartone@ama.org

SOURCE American Marketing Association