Life in middle school: Meditation lowers stress

Life in middle school: Meditation lowers stress

By Sophia Franklin

Meditation ... I know you might be thinking, "Nah, that’s not for me," but hear me out: Meditation can have a very positive effect on our health.

Especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of students' stress levels have gotten higher.

Uncertainty about the future, constant negative news and not being able to see other people because of the pandemic, contributed to stress and unwanted effects like a lack of motivation, the inability to concentrate and trouble sleeping.

Meditation is something that can help with stress and its negative effects.

According to webmd.com, the top five benefits of meditation for students are:

  • A decrease in stress
  • An improvement in concentration
  • Better sleep
  • Improved creativity
  • Increased emotional well-being

Focusing on the improvement of concentration, it's very important that students can focus and engage in class. If a student can’t concentrate on the material that is being covered in class, then homework and tests can be confusing and difficult.

It can be easy to fall behind when you have other classes, and if it's hard to concentrate in those classes as well, the problem becomes compounded.

Sleep is also very important for the human body. According to scholastic.com, “The average teenager doesn’t feel ready for bed until around 11 p.m., which often doesn’t leave enough time to get the recommended amount of sleep they need before they wake up for school the next morning.”

This is because the brain releases melatonin at a different time when you’re a teenager. If the average teenager doesn’t feel ready for bed until around 11 p.m. and has to get to school around 8:00 a.m., he or she probably won't get more than seven hours of sleep — assuming it takes two hours to wake up, eat breakfast, get ready for school and then drive to school through traffic. According to healthline.com, school-aged teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep every day.

Sleep is important because it improves memory, lowers stress, increases energy and mood and promotes a stronger immune system.

Concentration and sleep are thus critical to students' well-being and meditation can help them with both.

But what is meditation?

According to an article in Harvard Health Publishing, mindfulness meditation involves focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future. It helps you break the train of your everyday thoughts to evoke the relaxation response. The relaxation response is a deep physiological shift in the body that’s the opposite of the stress response.

Meditation can be used for people of all ages. It takes willpower to do, but it's definitely worth a try.

This article originally appeared in the April 2021 print edition of Camana Bay Times.

Caucasian pre-teen girl with brown hair and braces smiles at the camera

About the author

Sophia Franklin is a Grade 8 student at Cayman International School.