Stress and Mindfulness

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As a uni student, I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that work can sometimes get a little (or a lot) overwhelming. Most other students feel the same, as do people with jobs, families to care for, and personal issues to tackle. It seems that stress affects everyone nowadays, so I felt that now was the perfect time to mention this plague of modern life.

I find that the largest and most constant source for me is my education. I’ve always been a self-confessed perfectionist, and even as I write that I feel that I shouldn’t be giving myself that label: I even doubt whether I’m ‘perfectionist’ enough to qualify for the description. So let me rephrase that – I used to be a perfectionist. But now that I’m nearing the end of my degree, I’ve learnt to manage stress more effectively and relax a little bit. I want to let you all know that that’s ok – your body will even thank you for it.

We all know that stress sends our hormones into a spin, makes us grouchy, and in my case can leave my already edgy digestive system in a bit of a sorry state. For a long time that physical pain made life horrendous, but a few small changes have helped a lot, including those listed below. Please read them, keep breathing, and remember that if it won’t matter in 5 minutes, 5 weeks, or 5 years, then it’s not worth the worry.

Practice mindfulness. 

That word is everywhere at the moment, but by mindfulness I don’t mean you need a yoga mat and whale-song soundtrack. For about a month I’ve been setting aside a few minutes every night to record a meaningful quote that I’ve heard that day in a journal, taking the time to shade in the words and focus on the act of writing them beautifully. Not only does it make me pay attention to the inspiring sayings, it also gives my mind five minutes to concentrate on something else and shut out anything that is bothering me. Try it – you’ll quickly love your new notebook of lovely quotes.

Don’t forget your body. 

Whilst stress can feel like a burden on your brain, getting too centred on what’s inside your head can disconnect you from yourself as a whole person. I find that even just taking time to pamper my skin after a shower reminds me that my body needs taking care of too, and doing it every day will make you feel more prepared and positive for the day ahead. Studying in my pyjamas never makes me feel productive, but after a good freshen up it’s much easier to slip into that can-do attitude.

Shake off your cares.

We all hear the benefits that getting active can have, but when you’re feeling run down and have a mountain of tasks to complete fitting in exercise can feel like the last thing you need to be doing. I know that feeling! However, the endorphins released when you get moving will boost your mood and make you feel stronger mentally as well as physically, plus a period of activity away from your work will take your mind off what is worrying you and give you a chance to clear your head. Trust me, after just 30 minutes of engaging in something completely different you will feel refreshed and more able to take on that to-do list. One activity that has really helped me is yoga – attending a class can offer even more benefits as you are completely removed from your own stresses, and concentrating on the sequence of movements will leave no space for thoughts about those annoying deadlines.

Spend time with people you care about. 

It’s all too easy to shut yourself away from the world when you’re struggling to cope, and my family have definitely had to put up with a lot when exams come around each year! But taking time to relax with the people close to you will reduce your stress levels and remind you that you have the support of others. An afternoon out with your siblings or friends might be a few hours of lost revision time, but once in a while it can be a great alternative that provides a much-needed laugh and eases some of the tension you might be feeling.

 

Now light a scented candle, grab a mug of tea, and give yourself a bit of a break. You deserve it.

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