As a college student, some days can feel like a blur of stress. After all, having to balance attending lectures and a hefty workload while maintaining a social life can be an overwhelming task. It’s tough to find time to breathe and truly feel present when it feels as if there’s a multitude of tasks to complete before we can have a moment for ourselves.
During my first year on campus and the transition to in-person classes, I was easily overwhelmed by interacting with new people and navigating through an unfamiliar environment. I felt as if I was just going through the motions of life without fully being aware of my surroundings or well-being to combat these feelings of stress. Tired of feeling drained, I began to search for solutions. After some googling, I came across articles that described this practice called mindfulness, which touted its ability to help reduce stress and improve overall mental well-being. I was sold.
So what is Mindfulness?
If you’re like me, you’ve probably heard the word “mindfulness” tossed around many times without knowing what it really means. Well according to Healthline, mindfulness can be defined as the “practice of gently focusing your awareness on the present moment over and over again.” One of the most well-known practices of mindfulness is meditation. There are many types of meditation, but most involve the act of being still and silent as you focus on something such as your breathing, a specific subject, or the state of being aware.
Unfortunately, the idea of sitting still in silence while focusing on how I breathed or thought made me more anxious than calm. Setting meditation to the side, I searched for other ways to implement mindfulness in my daily life. In my search, I discovered an article that suggested substituting a mindful skincare routine for meditation. Coincidentally at that time, my skin was going through one of the worst breakouts of my life (I’m talking cystic acne and redness galore). Taking this as a probable sign from the universe, I decided to take the leap.
Skincare as an act of Mindfulness
I chose to implement this practice of mindful skincare in my nightly routine. To create a calming environment, I’d dim the lights and dab lavender oil on my wrists before beginning my routine. Rather than quickly rushing through my routine as I usually do, I followed the article’s suggestions to really slow down and concentrate on each step. I would focus on the temperature of the water I used to rinse my face, the texture of the products I used, and the pressure of my fingers on my face. I would even take a moment in between each step to do a short breathing exercise. Over time, my breakout gradually faded along with my feelings of overwhelm and anxiety.
This routine might seem narcissistic or silly, but it surprisingly helped ground me in the present moment. The simple task of focusing on the sensory aspects of my routine allowed me to feel more in control of my life in the midst of an unpredictable world, even if it was just over one small thing.
This new practice also made me feel more in tune with myself. As I slowly went through the different steps of my routine, I would pay attention to what my skin was subconsciously telling me. If my skin was feeling dry, I would know to drink more water. If my eyebags were darker than usual, I would know to sleep earlier. It felt good knowing that I was doing something good for both my skin and overall well-being.
I’ve been doing this routine for a few months now and I can truly say that this small practice has helped me feel more present in my life, rather than just living passively.
Practicing mindfulness can come in many different forms be it through meditation, breathwork, mindful skincare, or coloring. Practicing mindfulness doesn’t have to be perfect or formulaic by any means.
If you also feel as if your mind has been invaded by the hustle and bustle of life, it could be worth a try to implement small acts of mindfulness in your daily routine.