As the end of the semester (and finals week) approaches, college students all over the country are under a lot of stress...myself included! But this doesn’t mean that we have to let it take over our lives.
Incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine can help you relieve stress, avoid feeling overwhelmed, and feel more in control. Mindfulness has also been found to improve memory and focus, two skills that can come in handy when you're studying for finals.
However, with all of the things that we have going on in our lives, a lot of us don’t feel like we have the time to practice mindfulness on a daily basis.
But guess what? You can practice mindfulness while you do any daily activity...you just have to bring a sense of awareness to what you're doing!
As a student, one simple way that you can incorporate mindfulness into your life is by practicing deep breathing. Taking deep breaths helps slow your mind and lower your heart rate to alleviate stress. When you're feeling anxious about an upcoming paper or test, taking a deep breath can help calm you down so you can focus on the task at hand.
Another way that you can incorporate small bits of mindfulness into your day is by engaging in some short meditation exercises. While you may like you never have enough time to actually sit down and meditate, even just a few minutes of meditation can help to completely relax your mind. If you need some extra guidance, you can find tons of quick 5-10 minutes meditation exercises that online and through apps like Headspace and Calm (both of which offer great student discounts!).
I, myself, am a Headspace user and I absolutely love how quick yet effective their meditations are. Headspace even has specific mindfulness exercises for exam prep, study breaks, dealing with distractions, and coping with stress and anxiety, all of which can be super helpful as a college student!
A great time to practice meditation is right before bed. Not only does it help the brain unwind from the stress and anxieties of the day, but it also allows for a better night’s sleep that will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your to-do list!
Lastly, a great way to use mindfulness as a college student is by spending time outdoors. Particularly during finals week, many of us keep ourselves cooped up in the library all day without taking any breaks. While it might feel like spending your entire day studying is productive, it’s also really important that you give your mind a much-need break, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed.
If you want to get away from your desk for a few minutes, take a nature walk, go for a quick run outside, eat your lunch at the park! And while you do so, practice mindfulness. Notice all the details - your feet, the weather, the sounds, the trees, the sky, your breath. Bringing awareness to your surroundings in the present moment can help you let go of the test you're worried about or the anxiety you are feeling over that research paper. For the time that you are outside, you can let your mind take a break so that when you go back to studying, you feel refreshed and ready to focus!
Those were just a few different examples of ways in which you can implement mindfulness into your routine.
Below, a few of my friends share the ways they utilize mindfulness to deal with the pressure of school:
“As a college student, I am constantly on-the-go and busy dealing with anxieties about school, extracurriculars, and friends. By taking a few extra minutes each day to either soak in my present surroundings or meditate, I can release some of those stressors.” - Gaby S
“I’ve been practicing meditation because I have a lot of trouble falling asleep at night. My mind goes a-mile-a-minute and meditation has been so helpful in combatting that. It helps me relax, destress, and fall asleep. I was skeptical of meditation at first, but it has been really great. It's even helped my sister immensely too!” - Sarah W
“Mindfulness allows me to center myself, regardless of how busy my day is. It's easy to get overwhelmed in college while you balance school, work, clubs, and social life. However, the practice of mindfulness and meditation has taught me to stay focused on the present moment. While easier said than done, if I am mindfully engrossed in the present, my stress is simply nonexistent!” - Brandon Z
“The non-judgemental awareness component of mindfulness has helped me the most throughout college. It's easy to get caught up in the rush of academic life, but practicing mindfulness for just 10 minutes each day encourages me to catch myself when I’m stuck in a negative thought process.” - Josh C
“As someone who suffers from anxiety that's pretty prevalent at night, I really have responded well to meditation practices to go to sleep. It helps me calm down and gain a sense of control when I’m feeling overly anxious or stressed. It also helps to regulate my sleep so that I can conquer the next day with strength and rest” - Leah K.