Mindfulness is a special form of attention. You consciously direct it into the here and now. It is important that you do not judge the situation, i.e. do not think "I'm not doing well right now" or "I'm doing really well". Only the mindful handling of your conscious perceptions of thoughts, feelings and body sensations in the moment counts. You are open and unbiased to what you are focusing your attention on. This is to help you develop a self-concept that you can use to build resilience. Resilience is called psychological resilience and helps you cope well with challenging situations. 

In mindfulness, you are actually just observing and not giving meaning to what you perceive - you are not categorizing or interpreting the moment. It follows that in the state of focused attention you must not react. Sounds simple, but it is not that easy!

The concept of mindfulness has been in the focus of stress management for several years. The challenges of an increasingly fast-paced world are accompanied by stress, depression and burnout. Focusing on the moment decelerates and leads to a more conscious self-concept. Mindfulness is nevertheless not an idea of digitalized postmodernism, but goes back to Buddhism. "Sati" describes the Buddhist word for mindfulness and roughly means "the intention of the mind" (Chang-Gusko 2019, 5). Siddharta Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, is said to have described the concept of mindfulness as:

"Let that which is seen be merely a seen, that which is heard be merely a heard, that which is sensed through the other three bodily senses be merely a so sensed, and that which is cognized be merely a cognized."-Siddharta Gautama (quoted from Thera 1989, 4)

In recent years, mindfulness has also been of great interest to psychological research, especially with regard to stress management. With "stress management through mindfulness" (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, MBSR), behavioral and reaction patterns are to be broken in order to be able to build up resilience.

What does research say about mindfulness?

According to the World Health Organization, stress is one of the greatest threats to mental health. A study by the Techniker Krankenkasse also shows that around 60% of respondents in Germany frequently experience stress (see TK 2016, 9). We can be stressed in all areas of life, but stress is the order of the day for students, especially in their studies. In the 2018 survey of RPTU students, nearly 30% report experiencing a high level of stress here at university (Lesener et al., 2018). This percentage is above the Germany-wide average of just over 25% (Grützmacher et al., 2018). Stress is thus a very relevant health issue that should be actively addressed.

Studies on the effectiveness of mindfulness exercises exist in various contexts. One advocate for the concept of mindfulness is American professor Jon Kabat-Zinn, who has tested and applied mindfulness primarily in clinical settings. There have also been some studies for stress reduction in students through specific mindful practices. A meta-analysis (2017) summarizes 19 studies that examined the effectiveness of mindfulness-based training in medical and other health students. The meta-analysis concluded that mindfulness-based interventions have a positive impact on stress, anxiety, and depression while improving mood, self-efficacy, empathy, and mindfulness (see McConvile, McAleer & Hahne, 2017). And another meta-analysis highlighting 51 studies also concluded that mindfulness-based interventions can improve factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, and well-being. Compared to other interventions such as relaxation and breathing techniques or even nutrition or exercise programs, mindfulness-based interventions show a stronger positive effect on stress or anxiety, and for factors such as depression and well-being, the different interventions come to similar effects (see Dawson et al., 2019) . Other studies also demonstrate a clear connection between the implementation of mindfulness in everyday student life and stress reduction (cf. Krautz 2019, 182).

The study situation thus confirms that mindfulness can be very helpful and meaningful. Test for yourself whether mindfulness exercises also help you to deal with stress in everyday university life. Below, we present two exercises that you can do from the comfort of your own home or even in the library. Mindfulness to go, so to speak!


Body Awareness & Meditation

Body perception refers to the ability to assess one's body and its movement possibilities and to perceive them with all the senses. This is influenced by a variety of factors, e.g. visual and acoustic abilities, communication processes or social and emotional development. It is also about an awareness of the relationship between body and mind.

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We breathe an average of 12 to 18 breaths per minute. We usually don't even think about it, even if we do chest or belly breathing or a combination of both. Most of the time it is a combination of both, but what are the differences between the two techniques and are there advantages?

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Apps & Podcasts

We tested several free mindfulness apps that work on both Android and IOS. In addition, we listened to several podcasts on the topic.

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