by Abigail S. '18
I think everyone on this planet is probably stressed about something, students especially. Whether it’s the next test in a math class or not understanding a French grammar concept, lots of things at school stress me out. It was the middle of junior year when I decided to really confront the stress that I was experiencing and find a way to combat daily anxieties. In my search I found a practice called mindfulness, a form of meditation. I found mindfulness to not only be super effective but easy to implement in everyday life. Then, with a few friends, I started the Lakeside Mindfulness Club which meets during activity period on Thursdays.
Before I tell you why I think you should try mindfulness, here’s a quick introduction: mindfulness is practiced by bringing your attention to the things that are going on around you and happening in your own body, such as external sounds and your breathing. In doing this, you can train your mind and your body to relax and focus on the present rather than the things that are stressing you out and keeping you preoccupied.
Why should you practice it?
- The health benefits: Besides the immediate benefits of doing a short mindfulness session like clarity or calmness, mindfulness has many long term health benefits too. To list a few, Mindfulness has been found to increase energy, lead to better sleep, lower blood pressure and increase a person’s overall happiness.
- Improved academic success: For us students, mindfulness is a great tool to unlock educational potential. Mindfulness has been found to increase focus in students and aid in retention of information. Students who practice mindfulness show greater educational and emotional resilience, meaning one bad test grade won’t be enough to keep them from putting their best effort towards the class and achieving eventual success.
- It’s a great excuse to do nothing: At its core, mindfulness is doing nothing. If the above listed health benefits aren’t enough to get you to try mindfulness, the excuse to take 10 minutes out of your day to sit and do nothing should inspire you to give it a try. While mindfulness is really focused doing nothing, it is a great opportunity to take a moment in your day to relax. Using 10 minutes of your lunch period to reset and power up for the rest of the day is a great tool to keep focused and succeed for the rest of the day.
- It’s quick: Mindfulness can take as long as you want it to. Guided sessions can last anywhere from 5 to 60+ minutes. If you’re looking for a way to quickly and easily de-stress during the day, mindfulness is perfect for you.
- It helps you love who you are: Mindful practice has been linked a higher body image. Mindfulness and self-compassion (a practice about treating oneself kindly, often coupled with mindfulness) has been shown to lead to a higher self-esteem and lower occurrences of self body shaming.
There are tons of reasons to try mindfulness. If you’re interested in trying mindfulness I would recommend starting out with guided practice. My favorite app/website is called Headspace which provides free and paid guided meditations for beginners as well as more experienced mindful people. Another great website is calm.com which provides free introductory mindful meditation. Lakeside students who are interested can join me and others at Mindfulness club on Thursdays during activity period. Whatever your means of being mindful are, I hope you give it a try, I’m sure you won’t regret it.