It’s about that time! Course work is starting to pile up, and midterms are just on the horizon. Having so much to do can cause a lot of stress, and often it can feel like you don’t have any time to slow down and take a breath.
But if you decide to take a step towards practicing mindfulness or having a “general receptivity and full engagement with the present moment” (Black, 2011), you can positively influence how you handle these challenging times.
Research has proven that reaching mindfulness through activities such as grounding, coloring, and journaling can change the functioning of your brain to balance out your stress and prepare for your studying.
Grounding is one of the easiest ways to spend some time outside and practice mindfulness simultaneously. Practicing grounding, also called ‘earthing’, involves connecting your body to the Earth with bare skin (Chevalier, 2015). You can do this by lying down on the grass, taking a walk barefoot, or putting your hands on the earth.
There are plenty of different ways to achieve a successful grounding session. You could set up a blanket on Mill’s lawn and stick your feet in the grass, read a book, or practice some yoga outside. You could also invest in seeds and planters to do a bit of gardening!
Scientific studies have shown that earthing improves your mood by reducing cortisol and, in turn, reducing stress (Chevalier, 2015). While you try these grounding methods, it’s essential to remember to stay present, remove all self-judgment, and focus on the world around you.
A study done in 2016 showed supportive evidence of art therapy, specifically coloring mandalas, in reducing stress in young adults (Muthard & Gilbertson, 2016). This study has proven that using artistic expression can help to clear your head. So, find a coloring book, grab some of your favorite pens, or use paint and a canvas to embrace your inner artist and take control of your stress. While you create, make sure to practice deep breathing and openness to the experience.
If you have a notepad, a pen, and just a couple of minutes, you can take part in the mindfulness practice that is gratitude journaling. Gratitude journaling is scientifically proven to have beneficial effects on academic motivation and overall well being (Nawa & Yamagishi, 2021).
Gratitude can take many different forms, but an easy way to start is to make a list of things you are thankful for each morning. What you write down can be as simple as a cup of coffee or as elaborate as the act of kindness that your roommate or friend did for you the other day.
Black, D.S. (2011). A brief definition of mindfulness. Mindfulness research guide. Accessed
Chevalier, G. (2015). The effect of grounding the human body on mood. Psychological reports,
116(2), 534-542. https://doi.org/10.2466/06.PR0.116k21w5
Muthard, C., & Gilbertson, R. (2016). Stress Management in Young Adults: Implications of
Mandala Coloring on Self-Reported Negative Affect and Psychophysiological Response. Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research, 21(1), 16-28.
Nawa, N., & Yamagishi, N. (2021). Enhanced academic motivation in university students
following a 2-week online gratitude journal intervention. BMC Psychology, 9(1), 71.