With the holidays and final exams looming around the corner, it can be easy to fall into a rut in which we only have one thing on our minds: Thanksgiving break. Whether sitting in class or walking across campus, it can be easy to find yourself thinking about a million things at once – your mom’s homemade stuffing, all the work you have to do that week (or all the Netflix you plan to watch instead), or your cringe-worthy dance moves at a party the night before. Your mind can be anywhere except the present moment you are in.
Though difficult to prevent, falling into this distracted mindset is toxic, and can prevent students from reaching their full academic potential. To avoid burning out this semester, consider the concept of mindfulness. To be mindful is to be present in each moment of everyday life. Not only is such a task difficult in itself, but the constant pressures of both academic and social standards we are expected to uphold as collegiettes make it that much harder to keep practice. The more you practice mindfulness, the easier it will be for you to pay attention during that lecture, or stay focused as you reach that fourth hour of studying for upcoming exams. It is important to remember, as we are all trying to survive the heart of the semester, the small ways in which we can practice mindfulness throughout our day-to-day routines.
Meditate. You don’t have to be a meditation guru to find two minutes a day to ground yourself and relax. Pick a time, focus on being quiet and calm, and try to clear your mind, paying attention to nothing but your breath. If you find this to be too challenging to do on your own, download “The Calm App.” This app will lead you through a series of meditations anywhere on campus – you don’t need anything more than headphones and one minute of free time.
Mindful Breathing. We’ve all been there – those moments of panic when your professor starts assigning enormous amounts of work, and you find yourself short of breath, thinking about how you will be able to efficiently complete it all. If you ever find yourself in a situation similar to this, pause to take a few deep breaths – in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathing helps clear your thoughts so that your anxiousness can melt away and you can prioritize what needs to get done.
Stay Active. Moving your body on a day to day basis is a form of meditation in itself. Exercising allows you to refocus your thoughts by releasing unwanted, nervous energy through a healthy and positive outlet. Whether you channel these thoughts toward pushing yourself through your workout, or letting them wander as your body goes through the motions, more times than not, you’ll find yourself with a clearer mindset after moving your body, and more motivated to tackle that essay or lab report.
Write. Just like exercise, writing is a positive outlet to let your thoughts go when chaotic thoughts prevent you from focusing on the present. Keeping a daily journal encourages mindfulness because it forces you to take a step back, check in with yourself, and re-analyze your current situation or problems
After acknowledging all of the different ways to practice mindfulness, it is helpful to plan out a time in your schedule to practice one method (and follow through with it). You will see the benefits in your academic life and beyond, giving you a better peace of mind to push you through the end of the semester.