Between balancing school work, a social life, extracurriculars, and family time, it can sometimes feel like you’re being pulled in a million different directions as a college student. Not to mention adjusting to a completely new lifestyle away from the comforts of your childhood home–it can certainly feel overwhelming! As someone who dabbled with meditation before going away to college, I admittedly had a difficult time incorporating my mindfulness practice into college life at first. However, once I got my bearings and fell into a routine, I was able to find new ways to practice mindfulness that helped me better manage the stresses of college life. If you’re a college student looking to practice mindfulness but don’t quite know where to start–don’t worry, you’re not alone. Below are some tips that I found helpful for incorporating mindfulness into college life (and still do post college!) :
Make Meditation a Habit
When faced with all the above-mentioned priorities, the last thing you may want to do is add yet another thing to your daily ‘to-do’ list. But, taking just a few minutes for yourself each day to practice meditation will have a ripple effect on the other areas of your life–especially your schoolwork. Meditation has been found to improve performance, focus, and decision-making, all of which are pretty useful when taking an exam. For me, finding a quiet spot to meditate and breathe before exams was incredibly helpful for putting me in the right mindset and reducing stress and anxiety. Instead of haphazardly reading your notes or nervously reviewing material with classmates at the last minute, try finding a few moments of solitude to calm your nerves and steady your thoughts. This will help you to be fully present and set you up for success.
While meditation can be helpful for exams, the practice should not be reserved for only those moments. Creating a daily practice will allow you to reap the benefits on a more frequent basis in all areas of your life. Meditation is a practice, and making it a daily habit will help you to more easily be mindful at times when you “really” need it, such as during an exam. The key to turning meditation into a habit is consistency, so it’s important to commit some time each day to developing your practice–it can be just 5 minutes!
Start a Journal
College is often a time of uncertainty, and it can be difficult to remain present when there are many variables that feel out of your control: “Will I get that summer internship?”, “Will the exam have a curve?”. This period in your life may be wrought with questions that you don’t yet have the answers to, and that’s okay. Instead of letting all these questions build up inside your head until you feel overwhelmed or worried, it can be helpful to start a journal so that you can put it down on paper. Reflecting on your current state of mind allows you to do a self check-in and really be present with your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Creating an awareness of your present state, and doing so with self-compassion, will help you to identify areas that are causing you stress and then make positive changes when you can. Moreover, starting a gratitude journal to reflect on what you are currently grateful for can be an encouraging reminder of the areas of stability and comfort in your life. While you may not yet know what the future holds, you can remind yourself of the aspects of your present experience that you are grateful for.
Prioritize Activities You Love
When you’re surrounded by new people, experiences, and responsibilities, it can be a challenge to identify what among them you actually enjoy. It’s easy to get so swept up in school work or social activities that you find you have no ‘me’ time to do the things you love. But, it’s important for your mental wellbeing that you engage in activities that you really love, and to be fully engaged and present while doing so (hint: meditate!). Set aside alone time in the week to tend to your own needs and nourish yourself–whether it’s taking a walk in nature, catching up on your favorite novel, or going to that workout class you’ve been wanting to try. By making time for activities you love, you can recharge and re-center so that you can bring your best, fully present self to your school work and beyond.