Date of Award

Summer 8-2022

Document Type

Thesis

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program

Biology

Degree Name

Master of Science

Thesis Advisor

Salvatore Blair

Committee Member

Courtney Guenther

Committee Member

Jeremy Mims

Committee Member

Jenny Schafer

Abstract

College students face increased levels of stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which can adversely affect their academic performance. Therefore, it is critical for students to have access to practices that reduce stress, such as breathing meditations and listening to calming music, which are cost effective and require minimal time commitment. This study aimed to examine the efficacy of combining breathing meditation and listening to music for five minutes a day, five days a week, for two weeks. Fifteen undergraduate students completed the study and were randomly assigned to a control group who completed the breathing meditation without music (n=8) and a treatment group who completed the breathing meditation with music (n=7). Participants completed surveys before and after the meditation program, which included the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), the 15-Item Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ-15), questions about COVID-19 experience, and demographic information. Additionally, participants wore a Fitbit Inspire 2 for the duration of the study to collect physiological data including sleep, activity minutes, steps, and heart rate. Participants who completed breathing meditation for two weeks reported a significant reduction in stress and a significant increase in overall mindfulness at post-treatment compared to baseline, independent of whether music was included. However, there were no significant differences in Fitbit measures of physiology. This study lays the foundation for future research into combined stress-reduction practices for college students.

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