Stress is the brain and body’s response to change, challenge or demand and it’s normal for students to feel stressed out from time to time. Between exams, assignments, and extracurricular activities, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
But don’t worry, there are many mindfulness techniques that can help you reduce stress and find some peace of mind. Here are the top five mindfulness techniques that have worked for many other students.
Top 5 mindfulness techniques to reduce stress for students
Conscious breathing is one of the easiest and most effective mindfulness techniques available to you. “Conscious breathing is the key to uniting body and mind and bringing the energy of mindfulness into each moment of our life,” says Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn. To get started on conscious breathing, you can try his guided meditations available on YouTube.
The Wim Hoff Method is another breathing technique you might want to try. Wim Hoff is a dutch extreme athlete known as the “The Iceman”. He believes you can accomplish incredible feats by developing command over your own body, he regularly proves this by breaking records related to cold exposure such as running a half marathon north of the Arctic Circle…barefoot.
His method uses controlled deep breathing which can be practised alone or combined with cold therapy. Many people who have tried this method have said that it leads to better sleep, reduced stress and heightened focus. Scientists have proven the method has anti-inflammatory effects, decreased flu-like symptoms and increased levels of nervous system neurotransmitters.
Here’s how to do it:
- Get comfortable. Either sitting or lying down, make sure you can expand your lungs freely.
- 30-40 deep breaths. Inhale deeply through the nose or mouth and exhale unforced through the mouth, in short, powerful bursts. (It’s normal to feel light-headed)
- The hold. After the last exhalation, inhale one final time, as deeply as you can, then let the air out and stop breathing.
- Recovery Breath. When you feel the urge to breathe again, draw one big breath to fill your lungs and hold it for 15 seconds.
- Witness. Observe your own thoughts and your body’s response. This can be combined with Meditation.
Meditation has been practised for thousands of years and is now commonly used for relaxation and stress relief. You focus your attention and eliminate the thoughts that crowd your mind and cause you stress.
There are many apps you can download on your phone to help you with your meditation practice, whether you are beginner or have experience. These apps have wide variety of meditation courses and programmes that can help you to deal with grief, spark creativity, boost confidence, and find focus. If you need a mindfulness reset, there are one-off meditation sessions like gearing up for an exam or conquering the stress of an assignment.
Most apps have free trial offers — try a few before signing up.
Spending time in nature is rather underrated among mindfulness techniques but it works beautifully. Regular walks in nature are proven to reduce stress as well as keep you emotionally, psychologically, and physically healthy. Nature can mean green spaces like parks, woodland or forests and blue spaces like rivers, beaches or canals. Even watching nature documentaries can improve your mental health.
Throughout the pandemic, 45% of people who participated in a survey said visiting green spaces such as parks helped them to cope. Another recent study found that exposure to nature necessary for children’s wellbeing. As a student, you may feel like you’re in lockdown during long study sessions and exam periods so it’s important to take breaks and the best way to do so is to spend time close to nature.
Journaling—writing down your thoughts and feelings—is a great way to control your emotions and allows you to identify fears and concerns that are causing you stress or anxiety.
If you’re struggling to start, write down everything you are stressed about and cross out all the things that you can’t control. For the ones that you can control, create a to-do list and start with the smallest first. Again, there are apps available to help you with your to-do lists.
It’s not a coincidence that your favourite song makes you feel relaxed. Music-based therapy is a professional clinical practice that is backed by significant research which has found that music improves the body’s immune system function and reduces stress.
As a result of listening to music, the part of the brain involved in paying attention and producing dopamine is activated, increasing memory functions and motivation. This will stop you from procrastinating and remove the stress that it brings.
It’s best to pick instrumentals with a calming pace like classical and light jazz, but we are all different so have a go and see what works best for you!
These are a few of the ways you can get started with mindfulness techniques to reduce your stress. As you become more familiar with mindfulness, you will find it easier and easier to stay present and keep stress at bay. Choose Novel for your student accommodation in Cork and provide yourself with a great environment to get started.
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