I have found that – when I am stressed at school – I can often change the way I approach my days, and make them better. Below are 20 suggestions for becoming a mindful college student.
1. What do you eat when you study? Crap, or nutritional snacks that fuel your brain?
2. Identify how the subject you are studying makes you feel. If it’s not a subject you are personally interested in, how could you relate the materials to what you are majoring in?
3. You can’t multitask. You just end up doing both things poorly. Learn how to focus, and shut out the outside world while you really work.
4. Every hour you spend studying, go take a five minute walk. Not with music blaring, but focusing on the beauty of the world around you, and making a plan for how you will work when you return.
5. When you feel stressed, journal the source. Keep a running blog or journal in a Google Doc about what you feel, what you think, and why you think that.
6. Put your problems in perspective. Think about what’s happening in your community, state, country, world, and solar system. Ask yourself, “Is this really going to kill me?” (the answer is most likely no)
7. Notice how the people around you make you feel. Do they empower and energize you? Or make you feel disorganized, stressed, or pressured? You can choose who is allowed around you. Do they bring you up, or weigh you down?
8. Before you begin to study, make a ritual. Gather your materials, sit in a specific place, block out the world around you, relax your body, turn off your phone, and begin.
9. Practice serving others, and being kind. If you made a study guide, share it with a friend who helps you. Offer to proofread for your roommate. Make a video about how to solve a problem, and share it on youtube. When you share your helpful study tips, people will share with you. Be collegial (relating to or involving shared responsibility, as among a group of colleagues).
10. Simplify your surroundings. Clean off your desk. Shut down all those tabs. Simplify to focus on the task at hand – both physically and mentally.
11. Meditate. Go outside, sit on a bench or in the grass, and listen to the sounds of nature.
12. Listen to a guided mediation.
13. Note the thought process that occurs when you feel bad, stressed, or emotional. Avoid those thoughts in advance.
14. Spend five minutes each morning to plan your day. Pack a healthy lunch, snack, and water bottle. Get the right books and notebooks in your backpack. Note the weather. Note your work schedule. Plan the important things in half hour or hour long chunks. Use a timer.
15. Be fully present in each conversation. Pay attention to who is talking. Look them in the eye.
16. Practice compassion to those who are suffering. Maybe that’s your friend, roommate, classmate, professor, or family member. Tell them, “I’m sorry you are hurting.” Being kind to a person who is in pain is the best remedy.
17. Close your eyes, and breathe in and out ten times. Focus on relaxation and mental clarity.
18. Recognize the beauty all around you.
19. Pay attention to things that may have gone unnoticed.
20. School is not going to last forever. You will get past that paper, exam, semester, year, or degree. You will get it done. Just hang in there.