By Samantha Sheckles, UW Oshkosh Student
Mindfulness. What comes to mind when you hear it? If you are anything like I was, it is most likely meditation. Although this is an aspect of mindfulness, there are other methods to go about practicing it. Mindfulness can be defined as “maintaining attention towards one’s inner and outer landscape, coupled with sustained awareness when doing so.” Buddhist scholars suggest it often entails attention, awareness, memory retention, and discernment. Mindfulness can help with common forms of psychological distress such as: rumination, anxiety, worry, fear, and anger. Sounds great, right? But when you’re a busy college student, it can be difficult to find the time to take care of yourself. However, there are ways to incorporate mindfulness to your daily routine that are easy and can take as little as 30 seconds. Before you get started, here are some things to keep in mind…
- You don’t need to buy anything: There is no magical special place you need to go, or fancy yoga mat you need to buy. You can practice mindfulness anywhere for free!
- Don’t try to silence your mind: That is not the main goal of mindfulness. Try and focus on the present moment without judgement. When thoughts pop into your head don’t try to assign then meaning or judge yourself for thinking them. Your thoughts may drift to your essay that’s due at midnight, or your plans for after class. This is okay and part of human nature! When you become conscious of your mind wandering, just pull your thoughts back to the present moment. The more you practice the easier this becomes.
Ready to achieve some major mindfulness yet? Here are 6 simple tips to get you started without compromising your schedule:
1. Download an app.
Calm is the #1 app for mindfulness and meditation.
Its FREE, easy to use, and includes hundreds of programs for intermediate to advanced users. The app store states that Calm can, “bring more clarity, joy, and peace to your daily life.” This app offers multiple features such as guided mediation, Sleep Stories, breathing programs, and relaxing music. This app is great because it can be totally customized so that you can create the experience you want!
2. Don’t use your phone while walking to class.
If you are having a tough time finding when to incorporate mindfulness into your busy schedule, this tip is great for you! When walking the class, the first thing I do is turn on some music or scroll though Instagram. This distracts your mind from noticing what’s happening around you. Next time your walking to class, try putting your phone down and observe your surroundings. What color are the leaves? What do you hear? How does the wind feel on your skin? This can help you arrive to class feeling calm, focused, and ready to learn!
3. Notice you body.
This is something you can do when your short on time and can help in those moments when you are feeling physically drained. Sit in a chair whichever way feels comfortable to you and take a minute to conduct a “full body scan.” Ask yourself: How do my legs feel? Where are my muscles tight? Do I feel hungry or thirsty?
4. Eat mindfully.
Speaking of hungry, when is the last time you ate a meal without watching TV or looking at your phone? An important aspect of mindfulness is being aware of all your senses, which includes taste. When you are lost in thought, you are not registering what your sense are experiencing. Next time you eat, try focusing on how your food tastes. What is the texture of your food? What flavors do you taste?
5. Mix it up.
There is more than one reason that you feel amazing of vacation. When you are in a new place, you automatically become more present and aware of your surroundings. This is because there are so many new sights, sounds, and smells to soak up. If you want to achieve the same effect, try mixing up your routine! Take a different route to class. Study at a different location. Ditch that regular coffee for the fancy latte you’ve always to try. Push yourself to experience something new and keep your mind on its toes
6. Listen wholeheartedly.
When having a conversation, it can be easy to let your mind wander. You may be focusing on your response, those chapters you need to read later, or what your going to cook for dinner. You may also be distracted because your judging the other person. It could be what they’re wearing, how their hair looks, or other judgments that have developed from what they are saying. To listen wholeheartedly, simply focus on the words coming out of their mouth. Trust yourself and that you will come up with an appropriate response when the time comes. Having a genuine and thoughtful conversation can change your entire outlook on your day.
Tuckey, M. R., Sonnentag, S., Bryan, J. (2018). Are state mindfulness and state work engagement related during the workday? International Journal of Work, Health, and Organizations, 33-48. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/02678373.2017.1420707
Van Dam, N. T., Van Vugt, M. K., Vago, D. R. (2017). Mind the Hype: A Critical Evaluation and Prescriptive Agenda for Research on Mindfulness and Meditation. Association for Psychological Science, 13, 36-61. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691617709589
Keng, S. L., Smoski, M. J., Robins, C. J. (2013). Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies. Clinical Psychology Review, 31(6), 1041-1056. Doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2011.04.006
Mindfulness. (2017, June 5). How to Practice Mindfulness [Blog Post]. Retrieved from: https://www.mindful.org/how-to-practice-mindfulness/
Santilli, E. (2015, September 2). 10 Easy Ways You Can Practice Mindfulness [Blog Post]. Retrieved from: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/elyse-gorman/10-easy-ways-you-can-practice-mindfulness_b_8069422.html