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As we see vaccines slowly make their way into the arms of essential workers and at-risk sectors of the population, it feels like we’re approaching the light at the end of the tunnel (and although, we can feel a bit more optimistic, we have to remember that this pandemic is undoubtedly far from over). However, as we get a grip on COVID-19, we have yet to deal with the mental health crisis sweeping the globe. While nothing can substitute the help and guidance of experts and professionals, the following is a short list of resources and practices that might help alleviate some of the daily anxieties and stresses you encounter.

“The Secret”.

Based on the bestselling novel and self-help guide, “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, this documentary (available to stream on Netflix) was probably the first introduction I had to any sort of mindfulness practice. It’s an excellent starting point, as the film invites renowned scientists, acclaimed authors, accomplished artists, successful entrepreneurs and spiritual teachers to break down the law of attraction and the power of visualization. The examples and testimonies included in this documentary are unbelievably powerful, and they effectively underscore the importance of maintaining a positive mindset and outlook regarding one’s self-image, personal relationships and academic/professional life.

The techniques outlined in this documentary are incredibly simple and can offer a revolutionary shift in the way you perceive yourself and the world around you. It’s also an approachable and undaunting way to develop a mindfulness practice, demonstrating easy ways in which you can focus your attention exclusively on people and experiences that will enrich your life.

“The Power of Now” and “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle.

I read both of these books over the summer per the recommendation of my dad and Oprah, and they have undoubtedly changed my life. Tolle does an incredible job of identifying the roots of human suffering through straightforward language, analogies and anecdotes; he is able to verbalize phenomena we regularly experience, but don’t recognize or identify. He proceeds to offer techniques and practices that remedy this unconscious suffering through the power of complete stillness and presence (hence the name, “The Power of Now.”).

While his writing is more spiritual in nature, I still highly recommend reading his books. His insights are deeply resonant and encourage readers to fully embrace the happenings of the present moment. Even if you don’t end up incorporating all of his suggestions into your everyday life, his advice can help quell anxieties and ground you during stressful, difficult or adverse situations. On a more personal note: I firmly believe that once you read one of his books, your life will never be the same.

Daily exercise and self-care.

Nourishing your physical body can do wonders for your mental and emotional health. Prioritizing self-care and personal maintenance are assured ways to ground you into the moment and put you in a good mood. I, personally, enjoy starting off my day with a cup of black tea, doing my regular yoga and exercise practice, taking a hot shower and finishing with my daily skincare routine before doing anything else. Since starting this regimen, my day immediately begins on a high note and I feel really good about the fact that I’m taking care of myself. 

I recognize that making it a point to carve out time for yourself can be difficult, but ultimately, it’s deeply rewarding. Evaluating your schedule and committing to regular exercise and self-care are staples for developing a good mindfulness practice. 

Make yourself a satisfying and healthy breakfast, spend 20 minutes every morning committing to an energizing yoga or meditation practice, go for an afternoon walk, indulge in a hydrating or detoxifying face mask after classes or work, have a few pieces of dark chocolate after dinner, close the night with a hot cup of chamomile tea and an episode of your favorite sitcom or write in a gratitude journal before bed. Whatever you choose to do doesn’t have to be something super complex or time-consuming; simply making the effort is probably one of the best and most important things you can do for yourself.

As we wade deeper into the semester, it’s really easy to get overwhelmed by the stresses of school, extracurricular activities, internships, work etc. For that reason, it’s important that you make it a deliberate habit to check in with yourself through the nature of your mindfulness and self-care practice. Again, while referring to and utilizing these resources and practices might help alleviate some of the minor stresses and tension in your life, nothing can substitute the expertise of a profession. Keep that in mind, and seek help if you need it!

Niki is a third-year student at UMKC pursuing double majors in history and English along with a minor in film studies. Outside of writing and re-watching her favorite Tom Cruise movies, you can find her listening to audiobooks while on strolls through the park or walks around her neighborhood. She enjoys talking about travel, literature, health, wellness, and skincare and can never turn down a good cup of tea.
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