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How Mindfulness Improves Academic Performance

The majority of the time we only hear about how great mindfulness is for mental health, and while it certainly is, it also has been proven to greatly benefit academic performance. And at the end of the day, when students are getting better grades, their mental health improves. This is because higher performance is associated with better self-esteem and confidence in one’s abilities. Practicing mindfulness to improve grades also naturally means using these techniques to reduce stress and anxiety that cause brain fog and forgetfulness.


Mindfulness has been shown to improve academic performance in students of all ages. And a recent study showed that mindfulness meditation can help improve focus and concentration specific in college students.


The self-care practice has been shown to produce better test scores and a higher GPA throughout the year, while decreasing behavioral issues. This is why many schools are now choosing to incorporate mindfulness into their curriculums. Teachers are making a concerted effort to ensure their students are learning these strategies so they can stay on track.


You may be wondering how this whole mindfulness thing works. Well, in simple terms, mindfulness allows us to train our brains to have a better ability at focusing on the world around us, as well as the tasks in front of us. For most students, focusing on their work is one of the most difficult parts of being in school. This is because there are naturally many distractions in the classroom. There are past assignments hung on the walls alongside positive mantras, lessons on a chalkboard or a computer screen, other fidgeting students, whispered conversations among peers, and many other things that can easily keep students from focusing actually on absorbing useful information.


Thus, one often finds many students staring off into space or frequently checking the time, both of which take away from their opportunity to learn and focus on their work. While mindfulness doesn’t bring these behaviors to a complete stop, it has been shown to improve attention span, minimizing the need to do these things because the brain no longer requires extra stimuli to feel fulfilled.


There are a number of ways to practice mindfulness in the classroom, but one simple way is to focus on your breath. Once you have become aware of your breath, you can then start to notice other things around you, such as the sounds you can hear, the sensations in your body, and so on.


The key is to not get caught up in your thoughts, but simply to observe them. If you find your mind wandering, gently bring it back to your breath. Over time, being able to be successful at this will also allow you to refocus on the information being taught at the front of the class rather than any wandering thoughts.


Mindfulness has also been proven to increase critical thinking skills, creativity, and memory, which are all crucial skills needed to be a successful learner. Not only does it directly improve the skills we need to be successful, it also improves other areas of our lives that can help us feel motivated for school and assignments, such as sleep and self-regulation.


Sleep is a very important part of our everyday routine that can sometimes negatively affect our focus and mood if we do not get enough of it. For example, if you get three hours of sleep, roll out of bed and immediately go to school, sit at a desk, and learn a bunch of new information, you probably will not retain any of it. You’ll likely also not be in the best mood, which will affect your motivation and peer interactions. This is why adequate sleep is crucial to learning.


Self-regulation is our ability to control our actions and emotions. Mindfulness has been shown to increase our ability to do this. Self-regulation naturally improves stress levels when feeling overwhelmed with schoolwork or with controlling your frustration when you don’t quite understand an assignment. If you don’t have the tools to control these things, you can easily get sidetracked and go down a rabbit hole of stress and anger that will make it impossible to do well academically.


With mindfulness we can improve our learning skills, sleep, and self-regulation skills, all while benefiting our academic performance. Mindfulness reduces anxiety, stress, fear, overwhelm, and mental distress. It can reduce racing thoughts and improve concentration. All of these things are critical to doing well in the classroom.


Practicing mindfulness doesn’t have to take all day nor does it have to be so overtly practiced that it can only be done at home. The great thing about it is that you can tailor it to best fit your unique needs and schedule. This means, mindfulness can be practiced anywhere and everywhere and is a great in-the-moment tool to turn to when you need it.

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