Yoga Helps College Students De-stress. We Need Your Help to Study It.

Mental health is a prerequisite for academic success.

Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

A 2009 study found that college students living with anxiety, depression, or an eating disorder tend to have a lower G.P.A. than their classmates. They are also more likely to leave school without finishing their degree.

In this summer of uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to focus on your well-being to ensure a successful fall semester. Fortunately, the ancient yogic sciences can help.

A team of researchers from Rutgers University, Harvard University, the University of Delaware, and Seattle University have designed the Tools for Well-being COVID-19 National Study of Undergraduate Students

Open to all undergraduate college students in the U.S., this online research project will teach you simple yoga techniques to try in your backyard, bedroom — wherever! Then, the web portal will ask how you feel about stress, emotions, anxiety, depression, well-being, and resilience over a three-month period.

Students from more than 30 colleges and universities have joined the study so far. We welcome many more students to get involved. 

The study is modeled on Inner Engineering for Success, an experimental one-credit Rutgers course that teaches the classical yoga and meditation practices developed by famed author and mystic Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

We surveyed the first 200 students who completed the course. The pilot results reveal significant increases in mindfulness, joy, vitality, sleep quality, academic psychological capital, academic engagement, and thriving. 

The biggest lesson I learned is to stay positive and to not give in too quickly to my emotions,” said Monet Elgawly, a Rutgers senior majoring in accounting. “I cannot have the external world dictate how I feel on a daily basis. I’ll never be happy or satisfied with my inner self if I depend on things that are outside of my control.

With great insight, she added: “Taking care of my well-being is a priority now since I realized I cannot do anything to the best of my ability without doing so.” 

Caique De Paiva, a Rutgers senior double-majoring in human resource management and labor studies found comfort in the simple yoga and meditation. Though he is living alone this summer, he no longer dreads the solitude — even during the pandemic.

I realized I had found my literal best friend forever, who wanted to help me make my life easier. That friend is me,” he said. “I should not rely my happiness on anything that happens in the outside. I should find happiness within myself. There are tiny moments in life that bring us joy; together, they form a wave that carries all the bad things away (or at least from our mind).”

Caique is now eating better and having fun at home, even when the world outside looks grim.

I make tasty and healthy meals for myself. I sing loudly and dance. These things make me happy. I succeed in my classroom assignments, and I acquire knowledge from reading different books. These are things that help me grow, and also make me feel proud of the person I’m becoming.”

Now it’s your turn! 

Join the Tools for Well-being COVID-19 National Study of Undergraduate Students today and help us to document the surprising impact of yoga. Make your well-being a top priority and contribute to science at the same time. Inspire your friends to join you too!

Subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving.

More Thrive Global on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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