Mindfulness and How it Can Help
What a crazy year and a half!
Attending college is difficult enough for most students let alone dealing with a pandemic and all that it brought. The impact of the pandemic is still having a negative effect on college students’ lives and well-being. It may be hard to focus on course material, homework, class attendance, and more when there are food insecurity issues, unemployment issues, health issues and so on.
After returning to work in person, I realized many students want something/anything that can help their mental state - and fast! One suggestion I make is that they try to practice mindfulness. There are many questions on what the term actually means:
“Do I go outside, sit in my car and think about everything?”
“So, what is that exactly? Am I supposed to erase all my thoughts somehow?”
“I’m really not into doing some chanting thing.”
Let me take this opportunity to clarify the meaning of mindfulness and how it can help.
Mindfulness is the process of accepting your thoughts and regulating your emotions. Practicing mindfulness is being able to focus your attention on the present moment. It focuses on what’s going on in the now, rather than in the past or future, allowing you to embrace those feelings, thoughts, and distractions, and redirecting them to the current situation.
Mindfulness is important in college as it helps with mental focus, clears stress triggers, and helps encourage compassion toward others.
It might sound simple, but mindfulness is a skill that takes continual practice. The good news is mindfulness works, it’s FREE, and you can practice it anywhere at any time! Sounds great! Now what? Here are some ways to implement mindfulness in your daily life.
Just Breathe - Focusing on your breath is one of the oldest forms of practicing mindfulness. Close your eyes and count your breaths, slow your breaths down, inhale deeply, exhale slowly, and keep your mind from running wild.
Blast Some Tunes – This is a very individual thing. Some students may like hard metal, some like ocean waves, some like instrumental tunes, and some like a combination. Create a chill out playlist and put it on when you can. A calming playlist will lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety while bringing you back to the present and aid in the ability to focus on your task.
Visualize Your Best Self – This works! Try spending anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes a day on a situation you’re stressed about. Mentally picture the outcome you want. Be realistic but be optimistic. For example, if you struggle with test anxiety, picture the day of your exam from morning to the end: A Pumpkin Spiced Latte to start? A quick run? A phone call to a friend? What can you implement that day to boost confidence and relaxation?
Keep a Journal – I always recommend this to students. Write it down. All of it. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. This is just for you. Tell yourself that it stays there. I also advise updating questions/concerns when they’ve been answered.
There are many apps, websites, and books to help with mindfulness.
- Meditation and Sleep Made Simple - Headspace
- Calm - Meditation Techniques for Sleep and Stress Reduction
- How does mindfulness work? | Active Meditation | Stream Free
- The Mindfulness App: relax, calm, focus and sleep - Apps on Google Play
- The Mindfulness App on the App Store (apple.com)
Need some tips on how to handle holiday stress? Read our holiday stress management blog.
Rio Salado College Counseling Department
The Counseling and Career Services Department at Rio Salado College is available to help you address challenges and obstacles that may get in the way of your academic success.
Services are free for Rio Salado students and information disclosed in counseling sessions are private.
Counseling faculty can assist students in the following areas:
- Career counseling
- Academic success counseling
- Goal setting and personal growth
- Job search and resume assistance
- Crisis response
This article was written by Rio Salado College Counselor Autumn Cardenez. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 480.377.4253.