Ways To Practice Mindfulness In College

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated April 24, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Mindfulness is defined as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, and experiences on a moment-to-moment basis” (Merriam Webster’s dictionary). No matter what age a person is, the college years can be an excellent time to practice mindfulness as a strategy for self-development. 

During college, you may wish to become more mindful of several areas of your life, including your future plans, your commitments, your words, your relationships, your time, your finances, and your social media use. Below, we’ll explore some ways to become more mindful of these areas of life.

Getty/Xavier Lorenzo
Improve your college experience with mindfulness

What does being mindful look like?

Practicing mindfulness can be different for each person. Some may prefer to practice mindfulness by keeping a gratitude journal. Others may practice mindfulness meditation, in which they meditate to attain total awareness of their current situation and appreciate the present moment. No matter what mindfulness practice you prefer, it may bring you back to the present moment and help you slow down your mind.

Why being mindful can be important in college

Practicing mindfulness often involves aiming for personal growth and bettering your everyday life through self-awareness. College can be an excellent time in life to cultivate mindfulness. No matter what your age, college can be a time of intense personal development when you meet new people and explore new ideas and beliefs. Being mindful during this time can be beneficial as you navigate this process.

Mindfulness of future plans

Knowing what you want to do in the future can expand your growth opportunities in college. Many college students change their majors, and it’s not uncommon for them to work in a field that doesn’t match their major later on. Still, remaining mindful of what you are studying and what you might be doing in the future can be helpful. When you are mindful of your future, you might increase your chances of eventually having a career you enjoy. As you are taking classes, you might consider, “Do I truly want to do this one day?”

Mindfulness of commitments

In college, it can be easy to commit to too many things. There are usually dozens of organizations you can join in college that require a serious time commitment. Are you overcommitting yourself? Have you signed up for more than you can handle? 

It can be useful to know what your limits are and how much you can take on. You may get caught up in the social aspect of college and be afraid to tell people “no,” even when you want to. Overcommitting yourself could cause you to feel overwhelmed. When trying to practice mindfulness, you might consider what you enjoy doing and what gives you the biggest return on the time you invest. This may help you feel more on top of your daily routine and stable with your schedule.

Mindfulness of your words

With everyone’s experiences in college potentially being very different, it can be helpful to read into the context clues of how someone is doing before you say anything to them.

For example, if a friend studied all night for an exam and did not score as well as they would have liked but you scored an ‘A’ on the exam, it may be best to avoid discussing your score. Not being mindful and accidentally gloating about your victory can make your friend feel bad. Stress and competitiveness can be common in college. Being mindful of how others are feeling and choosing your words accordingly can brighten someone’s day.


Mindfulness of your relationships

You may also wish to be mindful of who you spend time with in college. This can be a time in which you determine what you want to do with your future. While building connections can be a vital part of the college experience, staying true to yourself may help you meet people with whom you have things in common. On the other hand, being around people whose values are different may cause you to unwittingly change who you are. Losing yourself could mean that you start taking part in things that you previously would not have.

Mindfulness of your time

For younger students, the beginning of college may seem like a taste of freedom. During this time, self-discipline and mindfulness of your time can prove helpful for your success. It might be fun to stay up all night playing video games, watching Netflix, and hanging out with friends. There may be nothing inherently wrong with these things, but when they start affecting your sleep schedule, your productivity, or your financial situation, it might be helpful to pause and reflect. It can be possible to have fun, manage your time well, and stay mindful throughout the process.

Mindfulness of your finances

Being intentional and aware of how you spend your money can be helpful for your future. The spending and saving habits you start in college can cross over into your post-graduation life. It can be easy to spend your money on temporary happiness or on something that is a want instead of a need. You might try to be mindful of how you spend your money and use strategies to set yourself up for success. You might write down your expenditures and income to be mindful of your financial situation. This may help to ensure the ways you spend your money are an investment in yourself and your long-term happiness.

Mindfulness of your social media use

Social media and networking are typically common among college students. Your social media profiles can reflect who you are and how you want to present yourself to the world. Being mindful of your social media use and how you portray yourself can be important because friends and potential employers may assess you based on what you choose to post. You may also wish to be mindful of the time you spend on social media rather than engaging with others face-to-face. While both forms of connection are valid, you may find that you benefit from planning face-to-face interaction with others.

Online therapy can help you embrace mindfulness

If you’d like professional help embracing mindfulness, working with a therapist may be the right choice for you. Not only may a licensed mental health professional teach you various mindfulness strategies and exercises, but they may also address any mental health concerns you may be experiencing as you navigate your college years.

Busy college students may find that online therapy is more convenient for them than traditional in-office therapy, and research shows it is effective. You can connect with a therapist via phone or video chat at a time that works for you. Plus, online therapy can make it simple to connect with a therapist who has experience in the areas where you’d like support. For example, BetterHelp has a network of more than 25,000 therapists, so you can be matched with a therapist with experience in your areas of concern.

In addition to providing mindfulness mental health support, a licensed therapist may be able to recommend an online mindfulness-based intervention (MBIs). Use of MBIs has been on the rise in recent years, and research shows they are effective.

Getty/Xavier Lorenzo
Improve your college experience with mindfulness


Living in the present moment and exercising nonjudgmental awareness of your current experiences, thoughts, and emotions can be referred to as mindfulness. Mindfulness is often viewed as a skill that may be particularly valuable during your college years, as it may help you along the road of self-development. A few areas in which you might exercise mindfulness in college include:

  • Your future plans
  • Your commitments
  • Your words when speaking to others
  • Your relationships and how they relate to your values
  • Your time and how you spend it
  • Your finances
  • Your social media

Many people find it challenging to be mindful, and if this is the case for you, working with a licensed therapist may provide you with the tools you need to embrace this state of mind. With BetterHelp, you can be matched with a licensed therapist who has experience with mindfulness training. Take the first step toward increased mindfulness and reach out to BetterHelp today.

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