Being a student comes with many responsibilities: attending your classes, making time for studying, participating in your courses, and preparing for tests… the list goes on and on! Over time, being so involved can feel tiring and take a toll on your mental health. Mindfulness can bring awareness to these unchecked feelings.
Mindfulness allows us to stop for a moment and choose the best course of action for our present situation. It can be best described as being aware of one’s mind through feelings, thoughts, and actions, and offers benefits such as increased energy levels and reduced stress. Forming healthy habits to practice mindfulness as a student can be simple—and with a little practice, can go a long way!
Today, we’re exploring five ways you can practice mindfulness in your own life.
1. Choose Your Narratives
A narrative is a story you create that reflects your thoughts and opinions. The thoughts you have and the things you say to yourself on a day-to-day basis are all narratives you tell yourself. It’s important to be aware of the narratives you think about, and consciously choose healthy ones that reflect reality.
Some examples of harmful narratives include believing that grades reflect your self-worth, convincing yourself you failed a test because you missed one question, or thinking you can only excel at certain subjects but not in others. To recognize harmful narratives, ask yourself:
- Is this narrative realistic?
- Are there other explanations?
- Will this narrative help me more than harm me?
When you choose to focus on your thoughts, you’ll be able to recognize when a narrative is harmful, and consciously choose healthy ones that are more reflective of reality.
2. Plan Your Days
Planning out your days has many benefits, including staying on top of important tasks and deadlines, improving your prioritization skills, and helping you better understand how you choose to spend your days. Some tips to plan your days effectively include:
- Writing down your daily plan around the same time each day for consistency.
- Categorizing your ‘school’ and ‘life’ tasks.
- Identifying the top two things on your list that must be done daily.
- Referring back to your list often to keep you on track.
By planning your days, you may also start to notice trends about yourself that can contribute to your mindfulness journey!
Check out our article on time management hacks for studying online!
3. Acknowledge Your Emotions
Your emotions exist for a reason. They can influence your thoughts, decisions, problem-solving, and even how you develop and maintain relationships. While some emotions are less pleasant than others, it’s important to acknowledge them so you can address them in a healthy way. Some studies suggest that when people accept their emotions, they have better psychological well-being.
Some ways to acknowledge your emotions include:
- Noticing and naming your feelings.
- Writing in a journal.
- Finding the source of your feelings.
- Giving yourself enough time to process your emotions.
By using these mindfulness tools, you’ll be better prepared to handle these feelings when they occur.
4. Reflect on Your Days
Reflecting at the end of the day gives you a chance to pause, sort through what happened in your day, and create meaning. This can include thinking about what you’ve learned in your classes, what you’ve accomplished, and your relationships with your peers. Those who reflect on their days are often happier, more productive, and less burnt out than people who don’t. Reflective habits can include:
- Analyzing past events.
- Appreciating things you’re grateful for (for example, keeping a gratitude journal).
Self-reflection can also help you learn from past missteps, which can positively affect your future thoughts and actions.
Struggle with exams? Read these seven tips for managing stress!
5. Take a Break
Part of being mindful means recognizing when you need to rest. Instead of pulling an all-nighter studying before your exam, remember that getting enough sleep can actually help you recall facts and memories. Just as we rest our bodies when we feel physically tired, the same should be done when we feel mentally drained. Research shows that taking breaks of 5 to 60 minutes while studying to refresh your brain and body can increase your energy, productivity, and ability to focus!
Like any routine, incorporating daily mindfulness is a journey, and will definitely take some practice. However, the benefits of mindfulness can make difficult times easier to bear, and wonderful times all the more enjoyable. Using some of the suggestions mentioned above can bring you one step closer to enjoying the benefits of a mindful lifestyle.