5 Ways to Practice Mindfulness: Student Edition

When we hear the term mindfulness many of us see visions of perfectly calm people, smiling happily at all times, never getting upset about anything. I don’t know about you, but that’s certainly not how I am all the time! Here’s the good news: that’s not actually what mindfulness is. Okay, what? Tell you more? My pleasure.

Photo by Tina Nord on Pexels.com

Well, mindfulness is simply the act of paying attention. It is noticing our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations, in the present moment and without judgment. This is beneficial because it helps us to remain present, calm and logical in the face of stress, anxiety and challenges. When we are mindful, we choose our response rather than simply reacting. 

So, does this whole mindfulness thing require hours a day and perfection? Nope! In order to start a mindfulness practice all you need to do is try to incorporate one (or all five – woot!) of the practices below into your daily routine. Mindfulness is like a muscle: the more we train it, the stronger it becomes.

1. Identify Stressors

You know how sometimes it feels like there’s a monster under the bed? We know it’s probably not there, but it freaks us out all the same. The way we get rid of the monster is by being brave and looking to see if it’s actually there. The same goes for stress. When things, people or events in our lives are causing us to feel overwhelmed or nervous or stressed, we first need to name what they are. Try making a list of the things driving you crazy. Include the littlest things (like your brother’s loud eating) to the biggest things (like a big history test or having to deal with your parents’ divorce). Naming your stressors takes some of the scary out. Once we remove the fear, we can start to kick stress’s butt.

2. Divide and Conquer

After identifying the stressors, we make a list to see what we can control (a killer First Day of School Outfit) and what we cannot (three tests on the same day whatt?!).  After acknowledging what you can’t control, cross it off your To Worry About List. Give your attention to the things you can control and create a plan. Will you study a little bit for each test every night or devote yourself to one subject at a time? We can’t control our teachers’ schedules, but we can control how we tackle the job.

3. Pay Attention to the 5 Senses

Take some time in your day to observe your surroundings. Name what you see, feel, hear, smell and taste. Spend a minute on each sense, really using details and adjectives to describe what you’re experiencing. By doing this, we bring ourselves back to the present moment and are able to ground ourselves even when life may be a little busy around us.

4. Eat with intention

The next time you eat something — usually a snack works best — pause before eating. Look at your food, see the colors, feel the textures. Take in the smell. Then, slowly take one small bite and savor this bite. Chew thoroughly and experience how the food not only tastes but feels in your mouth. Now, it may sound gross, but it isn’t — promise! Slowing down to appreciate and savor our food helps us add a moment of calm to our day and actually enjoy nourishing ourselves.

5. Do something you love!

Feeling overwhelmed? Yep, I get it. Happens to the best of us! The next time the stress monster rears its ugly head, make time for doing something that makes you happy. It could be a five minute study break where you dance around your room to your favorite song. It could be a walk with a friend or family member. Maybe it’s just closing your eyes for a few minutes and taking some big, deep breaths. Whatever it is, you can interrupt the stress and bring yourself back to the present moment by reconnecting with something you enjoy.

Happy summer, friends. Enjoy the rest and rejuvenation, and take time to appreciate the little things.

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