As finals week approaches, many students may be finding themselves feeling bogged down by stress. It becomes increasingly easier for us to forget to pay attention to today and, instead, drive ourselves crazy worrying about what will happen tomorrow, next week or even next year.
It isn’t surprising that all of this worry and stress can have serious negative effects on our overall mental and physical well-being. One practice that can help to counteract these unpleasant effects is being mindful.
To be mindful is to be aware of what is going on around you. The idea is to focus solely on the present moment instead of worrying about what’s happened in the past or about what will happen in the future.
What I’ve come to learn from my poetry class, the Counseling Center and some reading on Pinterest is that there are mindfulness practices that can easily be incorporated into your daily life. As with any new experience, these exercises can feel awkward or pointless at first, but don’t let those feelings deter you.
After enough practice, these exercises can help you to have a healthier mindset and alleviate your stress and worry — just in time for finals week.
This meditation-like exercise involves focusing only on your breathing, therefore shoving the extrinsic stressors from your mind. To breathe mindfully, find a position which you feel comfortable in, but don’t lounge. Now sit and breathe.
How easy is that? Take slow, deep breaths in and out, focusing on each inhalation and exhalation. Think about your lungs expanding and contracting and the blood circulating in your system.
Whatever you do, do not let your mind wander to somewhere else; practice keeping it in the present moment. Take about ten minutes or so every day to do this exercise.
Instead of focusing on your breathing now, focus on the world that is immediately around you. On your walk to class, notice how the grass is finally started to turn green again, or what sounds the birds are making. The goal is to acknowledge the world around you.
All too often, we find ourselves rushing from class to class with our eyes down, earbuds in; we are solely preoccupied with what we have coming up next. Instead, take time to live in and, more importantly, appreciate the present moment.