5 Mindfulness tips for the start of term
The start of the university term is one of the most exciting parts of a degree. You move into your new accommodation, pick up your new timetable, and begin exploring your new environment. In the bombardment of information, it can be easy to feel a little overwhelmed.
University is a stressful time for many students. Those three years are action-packed and can go past very quickly. It’s important to make time to look after your mental health.
If you get into good Mindfulness habits at the start of term, then it can positively impact your whole degree.
So, what is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a simple but powerful way to improve your daily life. Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment. It is a reaction to the fast-paced modern working world which calls for constant productivity and habitual multitasking. Mindfulness can help reduce stress, improve your focus and help with your studies.
Exercise is a great stress buster. The National Institutes of Health labels yoga, tai chi and qi gong as the best kind of mind-body technique to relieve pain and improve the mood. These exercises have been practised for centuries – for good reason. This link of movement, postures and breathing techniques improves both the body and mind.
These types of low impact exercise are gentle and accessible. They require a high level of skill to master but can also be taken up by just about anyone with no equipment.
Many universities will boast a yoga or tai chi society but you can equally find time to do this alone in your room. Work out what routine suits you. Once you form a habit, it can be hard to break. Just make sure it is a positive habit!
Do you dream of take-away every night and cake for breakfast? Moving away to university means students are in charge of their own meals. For some, this is the first time they have been solely in charge of their calorie intake. It is possible to get carried away.
Equally, when you are in a rush to get to that lecture, or to finish that piece of coursework, eating can become a secondary consideration. In actuality, good food is the fuel you need to study.
Mindful eating is more than eating healthily. It asks you to stop and think about your meals. You aim to eat without distraction, plan your meal times, and pay attention to the effect certain foods have on your body and mood.
Paying attention to what you eat and not just mindlessly eating can help stop binge eating and control your weight. All this is linked to positive mental health as well as physical health.
When you move to a new university in a new city, it is easy to feel isolated at first.
At the start of term, all students are in the same boat. They are meeting new people and hoping to form connections both academically and socially to act as a support network later. This is the perfect time to reach out to new friends – attend society meetings, show up to your introductory lectures, talk to strangers.
Humans are social creatures. Although we are all unique in our preferences for social interactions, some preferring a few intimate connections and others thriving in larger social circles, it is important to foster meaningful relationships in our daily lives.
Mindful friendship can be a conscious way to lend your attention to another. Let them feel heard and understood, without judgement or interruption, and for you to feel the same in return.
Mindfulness tips can be very comfortably applied to studying. Mindfulness moves away from multi-tasking – advocating real focus on one task as the best way to succeed.
When you prepare to study, spend a minute or two becoming aware of your physical surroundings. Do some mindful breathing, focusing on the physical sensation of the inhale and exhale. When you work, try to notice what distracts you and what motivates you. Distractions happen to all of us but in practising mindful studying, you can learn to deal with them.
The more you practise, the better you will become at focusing and by extension your work.
Mindfulness is more than just relaxing. It is an active process that helps you realise what you are focusing on. You can train your brain to be mindful. Studies have proven that practising mindfulness can help boost student mental health.
You can timetable meditation into your day, or at least an hour a day to do nothing and focus on yourself. You can make sure you schedule in a session of exercise a week, time spent with friends, and so on. You need to train yourself into these positive habits. There is no time like the present to start.
If you have never heard of mindfulness, take some time to read up on it. There are plenty or resources online. There’s even a phone app.
Cat Dennis is a history graduate living and writing in Canterbury. For more, visit Cat’s blog.