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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SLU chapter.

Fall is a time for food, fires, festivals and other fun. However, for most students, it is also a time for endless exams, extracurricular meetings and essay deadlines. As the semester begins to pick up in pace, it is important to find ways to cope with potential newfound stress. I believe practicing mindfulness is an excellent method to try out this season. 

According to Harvard University Health Services, mindfulness is the practice of paying complete attention to the present moment with an open, curious and accepting attitude. The goal is to focus so intensely on your current situation that you spend little to no time reliving the past and worrying about future events. Mindfulness is important because it helps reduce stress, gain insight and awareness and increase attention to the well-being of others. While mindfulness is typically best strengthened by meditation, there are other fun and simple opportunities to practice it. 

Here are three ways to practice being mindful in the fall, or as I like to say, being “mindfall.”

  1. Mindful Eating and Drinking

I had to begin with my favorite method. I love nearly all the foods and beverages associated with fall. Unfortunately, during any season, we all may be guilty of not paying much attention to what and how much we eat and drink in one sitting. This might happen when you’re binge-watching a show with a massive bag of your favorite snack. Mindfulness not only prevents overeating, but it can also make you appreciate your meal on an entirely new level. 

After you take that first sip of your Starbucks pumpkin spice latte or bite of your favorite flavored pie, take the time to breathe and think. What does it smell and taste like to you? Are you thankful for having convenient access to it? Think about how the texture and heat feel on your mouth. Further analyze the complexity of the latte or pie’s flavor before swallowing and take a breath before the next sip or bite. Are you with friends and family during this time? Are you thankful for these people? 

It is understandable to skip out on mindful eating and drinking when you have ten minutes for lunch in between classes, but try to find time to enjoy the process of nourishing your body. 

  1. Taking Outdoor Walks

Even if you haven’t taken general biology and learned all about chlorophyll, carotenoids and flavonoids, you can still appreciate the leaves on trees changing color during fall. Taking short walks is a great way to give your mind a break from studying and stay active this semester. As you breathe in the cool, crisp air and feel the light warmth of the sun, take the time to look at the nature surrounding you. What animals do you see and hear? Which trees stand out to you? Like humans, every leaf is unique and intricately designed. Think about the overall complexity and beauty of nature. As you listen to the crunch of dead leaves beneath you, think about your impermanence while staying in the moment. 

In other words, instead of thinking about what you’ve done with your life in the past or worrying about accomplishing certain goals in the future, simply breathe and focus on the fact that you are alive now, which is truly a blessing. 

  1. Planning Activities with Friends

The great thing about planning activities with friends is that the first two methods of mindfulness are great examples. You can certainly enjoy apple cider or corn on the cob with your friends, and group hot girl walks aren’t only for the summer. In this age of technology, it can be easy to become distracted and fail to fully appreciate our relationships with others. This fall, consider planning engaging activities with your friend groups, such as pumpkin carving, apple picking or PowerPoint nights for rainy days. Try to stay off your phone during these activities and really focus on doing the activities and having quality conversations with your friends. 

Ensure your friends know how to cope with their own stressors effectively. Everyone handles stress differently, but you can always take this time to give your friends suggestions based on what you do. Hopefully, the word “mindfulness” comes up during those conversations if they happen.

These are just a few suggestions, and it is by no means a complete list. I would love for you to find and share other ways to practice mindfulness. This fall reconnect with yourself and the world around you. Focus on living in the moment. I’ll leaf you with a quote from the wise Master Oogway from Kung-Fu Panda: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.” 

Hello, everyone. I am a senior pre-med neuroscience student who loves trying new things. I hope to provide a unique and entertaining perspective to this online community.