The life of a student can be a stressful one. Constant deadlines, uncertainty about one’s future, the pressure of balancing a job, a personal life, and one’s studies…it’s a lot to deal with. If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by it all, you should try meditating. You might be surprised at how well it works.
Stop me if this sounds familiar.
You’ve got two papers due tomorrow, and an exam in a week. You’re on your fifth coffee, and dreading the early-morning class you’ll have to get up for the next day. At the same time, you desperately wish you could hang out with your friends – you just checked Snapchat, and it looks like they’re having an awesome time.
The life of a student can be overwhelming. Countless deadlines. Student loans and job commitments. And all this with people who are often living on their own for the first time in their lives.
Small wonder students tend to be so prone to stress and struggle with their mental well-being. They also suffer from ailments such as depression or anxiety, and can simply burn out and drop out.
Counseling aside, there may be another way to deal with the pressures of student life: meditation. In the same way that you can train your body to better handle physical exertion by hitting the gym, you can train your mind to not only reduce stress but also improve your attention span. Much has already been written on the benefits of a consistent meditation regime, and multiple studies have been performed on its effects:
- It reduces the inflammation response caused by stress, as well as improving stress-related conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, PTSD, and fibromyalgia.
- It helps reduce the symptoms of many anxiety disorders.
- It can be useful in helping a student cope with depression when paired with therapy
- It enhances self-awareness and improves your attention span.
That’s enough about the benefits of meditation. I think we’ve effectively hammered home that it can make your life better. Let’s talk about how you can actually start meditating.
- Find somewhere comfortable to sit down. Since you probably don’t yet have a meditation cushion or bench, a chair or bed will be fine for now.
- Set a timer on your phone, either using a built-in app or by downloading a meditation app like Headspace or Insight Timer. Start small, aiming for a five to ten-minute session – you can always increase the time later.
- Optionally, put on some calming music or ambient noise. There are plenty of meditation playlists on both Spotify and Google Play Music – have a look around until you find one you like.
- While keeping your back straight, close your eyes, cross your head, and focus on your breath. Don’t think about it. Just take a deep breath in, followed by a deep breath out.
- When your mind wanders – and it will – be aware of your thoughts without judging them or engaging with them. Bring your focus gradually back to your breath.
That’s pretty much it. As you continue practicing meditation, you’ll find it becomes easier and easier to focus, and deal with intrusive thoughts and to let yourself relax.
Try to let go of stress, keep a firm grip on yourself, and remember to look to GradGuard to get you through exam season and beyond.
Bio: Brad Wayland is the Chief Strategy Officer at BlueCotton, a site with high-quality, easy-to-design custom t-shirts.