MINDFULNESS AS A TOOL TO REDUCE STRESS AND IMPROVE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF GRANADA

Several studies have indicated that 90% of university students show a high level of stress. Which makes it difficult to concentrate and memorize leading to low academic performance. The written knowledge evaluation of university does not allow us to discern whether the results are due to a lack of knowledge, or have been influenced by other factors, such as stress.

Mindfulness is a widespread trend and taught in prestigious international (Harvard, Stanford, Georgetown ...) and national universities (Madrid, Barcelona, Granada...). The method consists of applying the psychology of transcending "the here and now" and uses meditation as a key tool. So focused concentration on a task increases performance and reduces stress.

Multiple studies in science show that the meditation practice enhances the immune system, prevents cardiovascular diseases, improves academic performance while decreases stress, blood pressure, headaches, nausea, insomnia, etc.

A Teaching Innovation Project, entitled “Mindfulness as a tool to reduce stress and to improve University academic performance”, is being developed at the School of Pharmacy, Granada University, following the approach of Team-teaching and Team-researching. This project has been evaluated by the National Agency for Quality Evaluation and Accreditation (ANECA) with the highest mark.

A description of the results obtained in the two-semester course 2015-2016 is included, as the same methodology has been applied to different groups of students in both semesters.

The objectives of the project were intended to allow the students to acquire the following skills:
1) They must be aware of the importance and influence of their emotional well-being of academic life.
2) Ability to recognize and control their negative emotions to replace them with positive attitudes.
3) Ability to learn meditation technique as a useful tool for their emotional intelligence.

The methodology used to achieve these objectives is as follows:
1) A survey of stress and concentration have been conducted before and after participation in the project.
2) Performing Mindfulness and Yoga sessions.
3) Monitoring and supporting students with project team members.

After the implementation of the project during the two semesters of 2015-16 similar results were obtained. The average of these results was as follows:

According to self-assessment and project valuation surveys, 76% of the students believe participation in the project has helped them to reduce stress.

The survey respondents (58.5%) consider participating in the project has improved their academic life. Approximately 51% of them think that it has also served to increase their performance in the self-study, which promotes their self-confidence. And over 71.2% of university students consider that their participation in the project has served to increase their concentration.

It should be pointed out the high positive answers regarding the follow up of the project: 92.8% of the survey respondents.