Seven Mindfulness Techniques for College Students

Posted: October 20, 2021 | Author: Savannah Byers | Read Time: 4 minutes

Mindfulness techniques for college studentsIt’s no secret that college can quickly become a major stressor for many students. Balancing multiple classes on top of work, a social life, and a million other things is a lot to take on at once. Don’t let yourself become too overwhelmed with everything. Instead, try these seven mindfulness techniques for college students. These techniques can be done virtually anytime and anywhere to help ease the stress and overwhelm of college life.

Mindfulness Practices for College Students

Follow Mindfulness Exercises

Follow a leader through a mindfulness exercise to calm your mind down in the moment through a guided practice. There are pre-recorded mindfulness exercises available on podcast platforms, YouTube, and many other avenues. You can also join a live mindfulness exercise on several streaming platforms or on campus.

Students at Southern Utah University can join Professor Helen Boswell-Taylor for Mindful Mondays over Zoom. Professor Boswell leads two, 10-minute sessions each Monday at 11:00 a.m. and 1:50 p.m. Join via Zoom at: (passcode: 101202).

STOP Practice

STOP is a four step mindfulness technique that can be done virtually anytime and anywhere when you are feeling overwhelmed. Here are the steps:

S: Stop

Stop what you are doing. Stop what you are thinking. Take a moment to dedicate yourself to mindfulness.

T: Take a breath

Take a deep breath in and out. Find a method that works for you and slows you down. You might count up or down, close your eyes, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, etc. See the breathing exercises later in this post for more ideas.

O: Observe

Take a moment to observe how you feel physically and mentally. Try to identify your feelings. Alternatively, take a moment to observe your surroundings. Focus on the details and how they make you feel.

P: Proceed

Proceed intentionally with the task at hand. If you need to slow down, slow down. If you need to set a time limit, set a timer. If you need to drink some water, grab some water. Practice being in tune with yourself and proceed with your day in a way that makes sense for you.

Sensory Exercises

Sensory exercises are a great way to practice mindfulness by reaching out to immediate, tangible experiences. This is a way to ground yourself in the present moment and space. Try out these sensory exercises:

  • Place your hands in water
  • Hold a piece of ice in your hand
  • Touch or hold something comforting (i.e., a soft blanket, a stuffed animal, etc.)
  • Savor a scent you enjoy (i.e., light a candle, brew a cup of tea, etc.)
  • Listen to your surroundings

Breathing Exercises

Simply taking a moment to notice your breathing can be helpful in overwhelming situations. Intentionally practicing breathing slows your heart rate and can decrease your blood pressure. Breathing can also send a relaxation signal to your brain, helping your entire body reach a state of calm. Next time you need to take a moment of pause, try one of these breathing exercises:

Deep Breathing: Simply inhale slowly through your nose, then exhale slowly out through your mouth. If it helps, you can inhale and exhale for the same amount of time; maybe four seconds.

Resonance Breathing: Laying on your back, inhale slowly for six seconds, then exhale slowly for six seconds. Repeat this for about 10 minutes or as needed.

Alternate-Nostril Breathing: Push one of your nostrils closed and breathe in. At the top of your breath, open your closed nostril and close the other nostril before exhaling. Repeat this exercise.

Affirming Phrase: As you inhale, say something that you would like to manifest. For example, “I breathe in peace.” As you exhale, say something that you would like to get rid of. For example, “I breathe out stress.” Repeat this exercise a few times.

Physical Exercises

Physical exercises are another mindfulness activity to utilize when you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Physical exercise doesn’t need to be vigorous exercise; sometimes, the most useful physical exercise is simply getting up out of your chair and moving around for a little bit. Next time you need to get up and move, try one of these exercises:

  • Go for a walk
  • Take out your trash or get the mail
  • Do a “body scan” from your head to your toes, focusing on how your entire body is feeling
  • Practice a few yoga poses
  • Dance to your favorite song

5-4-3-2-1 Practice

5-4-3-2-1 is a great mindfulness exercise that can be done anywhere and it doesn’t take long to do. Tapping into the 5 senses, this exercise encourages you to focus on your surroundings and your body. Here are the steps for 5-4-3-2-1:

  • What are 5 things you hear?
  • What are 4 things you see?
  • What are 3 things you can touch?
  • What are 2 things you can smell?
  • What is 1 thing you can taste?

Anchoring Phrase

If you need something quick and calming to stay grounded, try repeating an anchoring phrase. Your anchoring phrase can be the same every time (a motivating quote or word) or it can be about something in the moment. Repeat whatever is comforting to you. An anchoring phrase for the moment can follow a format similar to this:

“My name is… Today is… Right now I feel…”


Mindfulness exercises are a great way to begin managing your mental health. Another avenue to managing your mental health is visiting or contacting SUU’s Counseling and Psychology Services (CAPS). It is okay to ask for help. Learn more about CAPS.

Tags: Student CAPS

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