Tips and tricks for mindfully managing student stress.
It always seems to be that when you have a conversation with a university student, the topic of their schedule and how busy they are comes up. This is to be expected, as the majority of us pack our days with class, studying, jobs and anything else we’ve committed to. The other part of the conversation often revolves around how they’re having a hard time managing these commitments. “I don’t have time to go out,” “I have a midterm in a few days,” and the tried and
true, “I’m just so busy.” The amount of times these quotes can be heard on campus is innumerable.
There are a lucky few who can take on immense amounts of work and manage their time perfectly so their overwhelming workload does not stress them; then there are the rest of us.
Those of us who seem to have only one task to accomplish and yet we manage to not still make it out to Wing Night because we put it off or even worse, it causes us undue stress.
How are students supposed to manage their time and not stress themselves out? One of these ways is “mindfulness.” Mindfulness is the practice of solely focusing on the present.
Present as in both the present time, and present place. Mindfulness is not worrying about the past or future and not worrying about what is going on away from your current space. Mindfulness can be practiced via meditation and other forms of therapeutic relaxation. Having its roots in ancient Buddhism, mindfulness has been around for centuries yet gained popularity in the West just a few decades ago. Therapeutic relaxation techniques have been credited with alleviating stress, anxiety and other mental health issues.
Mindfulness is often employed in schools, prisons and rehabilitation centres due to its effectiveness and overall health benefits. Here at StFX, mindfulness is practiced on a weekly basis. The Wellspring Centre located in Morrison Hall hosts meditation sessions weekly. The sisters of St. Martha run the services in addition to inter-religious and non-denominational prayer.
Although mindfulness may be a great stress reliever for some, it is understandable that it might not work for everyone. Another stress reliever that can be quite effective is something as simple as taking a walk. It sounds so basic and is oftentimes overlooked, but taking a stroll can
do wonders for your mental health. Taking 20 minutes out of your day and going for a walk can really clear your head and put things into perspective. The Antigonish landing is a beautiful trail and even if you’re not a nature lover it can still be appreciated.
In order to not feel overwhelmed it is important to schedule ‘you time’ as well. If that essay is going to deteriorate your overall wellbeing, don’t feel guilty about putting it off for
another day and doing something fun instead. procrastination isn’t always a bad thing. (Cost-benefit analysis right?) Having a social life is imperative for dealing with stress. Studies show that individuals who spend time with friends at least once week have reduced levels of anxiety compared to those who don’t.
Finding the right balance between work and play is hard to do but necessary as it benefits us in the long run. Reworking your schedule to allow you to have fun and/or downtime could reap huge rewards.
It is important to note that if you feel especially overwhelmed or noticeably more stressed/anxious than your peers around you it could be a more serious condition than your average ‘student stress’. Medical professionals are on campus and throughout Antigonish and they are here to help you. The counselling services provided by the Health and Counselling
Centre on campus have helped many students work through stress as well as serious mental health issues.
All in all, finding a stress reliever that works for you is an important thing to accomplish whether that is practicing mindfulness, going for a walk or something that is unique to you.