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The google definition of mindfulness is: ‘a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.’ I’ve always seen it as having a balanced state of mind, something that isn’t easy as a student. Especially when you are waiting on assessment/exam results you spend the whole time being nervous, and not having any mindfulness at all.

My mum is a weightwatchers ambassador and one of their books is all about being happy. They have a page on mindfulness and describe as a way of being present, and a way of enjoying life more. It notes how to not get lost in your thoughts and by simply reminding yourself to be present; you’ll be happier and more productive! It’s all about recognising those good and bad emotions, and then trying to stay in the good zone for as long as you can.

As someone with anxiety problems, to a point where I’m doing something that I enjoy but I’m on edge, I’m always looking for stuff to counteract it. Meditation is the best way to stop it for me, because it’s the only time where after I’ve had a ten minute sit down, the feeling in my chest of something bad about to happen fades away. Headspace is the best app I have used for meditating. It is perfect for beginners, because it eases you into sitting down in silence doing nothing. You start with doing ‘take 10’ where someone speaks to you for 10 minutes about breathing exercises and what meditation can do for you. These fly by, and you definitely feel a sense of relief when they’re finished. Your mind is cleared, and for the rest of the day you are more relaxed. It is such a weird feeling at first, where you’re almost weightless, without a worry in the world (for a short period of time). Once you’re past the basics you can explore all the other options Headspace offers. There are guided ones for running or just walking around, ones for waking up early, ones for the weekend, doing presentations, doing creative writing, cooking and sports recovery to name a few. Any part of your life needs de-stressing they’ll be a meditation process on the app for you. The app tracks all of your progress nicely, and it keeps you going back to the app day after day. I cannot recommend it enough!

The benefits of mindfulness are endless. Putting your own needs aside for a second, you’re going to start being better to the people around you. When you stop over thinking, you stop worrying about other people. One of the things headspace makes clear is that meditation is about other people, not yourself. The interactions with your friends and family will become smoother and stronger. Mindfulness is a good way to keep track of your own mental health. If you’re struggling with something then you should speak to someone, but sometimes you have to be on top of your own problems. Having a clear state of mind, and an awareness of how you feel is good way to keep your head right. Use it as a therapeutic technique of not dwelling on things, or overwhelming yourself.

There little things you can do to help your mind stay in shape such as not drinking as much coffee to stop anxiety (something I had to do) and by getting a good amount of sleep. And you could also limit your social media use (I haven’t quite mastered this) because these apps really throw your head in a spin. How often do you feel deflated after spending half an hour on instagram? Or get depressed from scrolling through Twitter? I’ve deleted the apps a few times, and I definitely had less on my mind after that, but I need to do it more long term, because the pressure of posting things drains on me. Another piece of advice would be to have good relationships around you. Having a burden of a friendship or one that is grinding on you will take its toll eventually. Sometimes the people in your life aren’t right for you, or your mental health. It’s not about pushing people way, it’s about getting rid of any toxicity that might be damaging you.

I think having an awareness of mindfulness is the first step because after that you can slowly start working on it. University life can be quite stressful with work and studies, so it’s important to keep checking up on your friends, but also to keep checking up on yourself!

 

 

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