University can be stressful and overwhelming time. There is the pressure to do well and get good grades, the social demands of making new friends and maintaining relationships, and for some the challenges of living away from home for the first time, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Practicing mindfulness in university can be a great way students manage their stress and anxiety levels, stay focused, and achieve academic success.
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What is mindfulness?
Ok I know, you’ve probably been told before to practice mindfulness, your university may even promote and encourage ‘mindfulness’
But what does ‘mindfulness’ actually mean?
Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present moment, without being distracted by what’s going on around you or thoughts about the future, things you need to do, or ruminating on the past. For many people the first thing that comes to mind when you mention mindfulness is someone sitting and meditating but there are many ways to practice mindfulness.
How I Practice Mindfulness
Yoga is one of the main ways I practice mindfulness. The practice of yoga involves you focusing on your, breathing, how your body moves, and letting go of distracting thoughts. Although attending yoga classes is a great way to practice yoga, since being at university I haven’t attended a single yoga class in person. In person classes can be hard for students to fit in with their schedule, and an extra strain on a student budget. Luckily it is incredibly easy to do yoga from home (even if you have no experience). There are lots of great guided yoga practices on youtube. I particularly enjoy the channel Yoga with Adrienne.
2. Meditation or Breathing Excercises
Sometimes I feel that I don’t have time to do a whole yoga session, or I just can’t be bothered with getting into exercise clothes and pulling out my mat. When I do feel like that, another way I practice mindfulness is through meditation or breathing exercises. Bringing awareness to your breathing helps to ground you in the present moment and can help reduce stress and anxiety.
3. Creative Hobbies
Arts and crafts are the other way I practice mindfulness. When you are drawing or doing something like crochet your mind tends to pull it’s focus onto the details. The act of drawing alone helps to clear and calm your mind. I’ve always been an artistic person so I love to paint or draw or do things like crochet and knitting but even if you feel that you’re not artistically inclined you can try things like colouring pages.
Exercise can actually be another way of practicing mindfulness. Running, swimming or going to the gym are all great ways to keep you focus on the present. When you’re exercising you tend to focus on what you are doing with your body (and if you find yourself getting distracted you can ground yourself by talking yourself through what you are doing). As a bonus exercise itself also helps to reduce stress.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Improved Academic Performance
Mindfulness can help students improve their academic performance by enhancing their ability to focus and concentrate. When students practice mindfulness, they learn to pay attention to the present moment without distraction. This skill can be especially useful during lectures or while studying for exams, allowing students to stay focused on the material at hand and retain more information.
Reduced Stress and Anxiety
University life often comes with many stressors, such as deadlines, exams, and social pressures. Practicing mindfulness can help students manage their stress and anxiety levels by teaching them to observe their thoughts and emotions without judgment. This awareness can help students identify negative thought patterns and replace them with more positive and productive ones.
Improved Overall Well-being
In addition to improving academic performance and reducing stress and anxiety, mindfulness can also contribute to students’ overall well-being. By practicing mindfulness regularly, you can develop a greater sense of self-awareness, and emotional resilience. This can help you navigate the ups and downs of university life.
My biggest suggestion for mindfulness, is to find something that works for you and develop it into a habit. Practicing mindfulness regularly (something I still struggle with sometimes) helps you to manage overall stress and prepare you for more stressful times.