University offers course in combating exam stress

Rachel Munford

Mindfulness, an 8 week course on how to combat anxiety and stress before exams, is set to begin on 19 March.

The course, which focuses on the studies of Jon-Kavat Zinn on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), will take place in the Chaplaincy Centre at 10am-12pm every Thursday.

Jon-Kavat Zinn’s 8 week programme of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy was developed at the University Of Massachusetts Medical Center. The Strathclyde programme involves the same 8 weekly classes. Work is continued at home through CDs and workbooks so it becomes part of the participant’s routine.

Michelle Patrick, Psychology student hoping to do a PhD on the effects of Mindfulness and previous participant of the programme, said: “The course is fantastic. I took it a year and a half ago, and I’m still practicing it.”

She added: “It’s brilliant for exam stress…Studying mindfully is really useful for that.”

The course enables students to find immediate ways to deal with their problems independently through mindful meditation, body awareness, stretching and movement.

Course co-ordinator Colin Flynn, Disability Adviser at Strathclyde, has confirmed that the course, which is in its 8th run, will certainly continue in the future. Flynn also hopes to introduce daily meditation sessions which will allows students to drop in at their convenience. He said: “Referrals to the Disability service take too long for students with immediate problems.”

With studies being done on the effects of mindfulness on students stress levels, Flynn also acknowledged that stress and anxiety levels will rise and fall over the course of an academic year but mindfulness may lessen the amount stress rises nearer exams.

Students are expected to make a £15 deposit for the course and at the end of the course will receive a meditation cushion. The course runs 3 times a year – in October, January and March/April.

Awareness of mindfulness and its effects has risen over the past year. Yet mindfulness has been around for 2 millennia in Asian Buddhist practice.

Mindfulness is recognised to be beneficial for mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. It is based on a Buddhist practice yet is adopted in a completely secular way within the course.

The formation of a close relationship with University’s Pyschology department has also resulted in student dissertations on the effects of mindfulness in relation to the stress levels of students.

More information on how to book a place can be found online at

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