There are myriad feelings that spring to life with the beginning of a new school year; excitement and hope for new adventures and experiences go hand in hand with anxiety, nervousness, and sometimes dread about the workload, the projects, and the year to come.
While you might be experiencing these mixed feelings as the new year begins, there are ways to remain calm and keep yourself centered and balanced. If you mentally prepare for the upcoming year and begin cultivating your own unique stress-management practices, your year will run more smoothly.
You will feel more confident and better prepared to handle anything that comes your way. Meditation is an important habit for all of us to create, as it lowers stress levels, battles anxiety, and calms the mind. Those of us who have more practice meditating, however, know how unsettling and disruptive it can feel in the beginning.
Your mind might rebel by allowing thoughts to race around at what feels like light speed, or you can’t seem to concentrate or focus. Sometimes it can feel like meditation causes more stress than it alleviates and this is completely normal when you first begin to practice meditation. It is a foreign experience; a feeling that the body, mind, and spirit need to adjust to.
When we first attempt meditation, we might try so hard to force the thoughts out of our minds that meditation becomes more difficult than it is intended to be; while allowing your mind to empty is a beneficial result of meditation, you needn’t be forceful with your practice.
Once you learn to simply allow the thoughts to come and go, without following or trying to relocate them, you will begin to experience the effortless, calming experience meditating creates. While it is an excellent way to combat the stress of the new school year, it is not always convenient, or even possible, to stop everything and meditate at school as you would at home.
In the comfort of your own home, you can light candles or burn incense, wear something comfortable, and play your favorite, soothing music, creating an ideal atmosphere for peaceful meditation, while taking your time doing so. You can easily see why this method would not be ideal for an academic environment.
You may not be able to create exactly the same ambiance at school as you would at home; however, there are many calming, meditative practices you can perform on-the-go to soothe your anxiety and quiet the mind.
Let’s take a look at some calming, introspective activities that are perfect for public spaces, such as the classroom.
Mantras are a convenient, effective way to bring your focus back to the present moment. A mantra is a word or phrase you impart meaning to, and repeat to yourself, silently or out loud, throughout the day. It could be something as simple as “Om,” or something more specific, such as “I love and accept myself for who I am.”
The important thing is the phrase has meaning for you and brings you back to the center. It may feel unusual or corny at first, repeating words and phrases in your mind; but once you get accustomed to the practice, you’ll see how helpful it can be to focus the mind on the issues at hand, rather than worrying about the future or being stuck in the past.
You can use one or more mantras as your silent stress relievers. Don’t be afraid to put thought and effort into the mantras you choose; in time you’ll see how helpful they’ve become in your routine.
If you find yourself stressed out and time allows for it, try taking a quick walk around the building to release some of that nervous energy. Take a moment to become mindful of the current state of your physical and emotional well-being.
Put energy into both the act of walking itself and the purpose of this exercise, which is to calm the mind. Allowing the body and mind to work together for a few moments, in addition to physically releasing built-up energy will leave you feeling refreshed, balanced, and ready to take on the rest of the day.
Controlling your breath is one of the most effective and convenient stress relievers because you can do it anywhere, without attracting unwanted attention. There are many deep breathing exercises that exist, and you are welcome to practice only the methods you are drawn to.
The mere act of focusing on your breath will bring your mind to a central focus, and slowing your breath will result in a slower heart rate, as well as a calmer demeanor.
You can try the 3-3-6 method, inhaling for 3 seconds, holding the breath for 3 seconds, and exhaling for 6 seconds; or you could try inhaling and exhaling for 10 seconds apiece. Find something that works for you and just breathe.
4. Body Relaxation
One aspect of meditation is relaxing the body. In fact, if you’ve ever tried guided meditation, you’ll likely recall an instructor or two that begins by asking you to relax every muscle in the body.
While we may not be able to practice meditation exactly like we can in the comfort of our home, this is another aspect of meditating that can be performed anywhere. When you find yourself clenching in stress, take a moment to focus your mind on each muscle in the body, relaxing them wherever you are. A peaceful body will encourage a peaceful mind.
This isn’t necessarily an “on-the-go meditation tip,” but nutrition, AKA what we put into our bodies, has a lot to do with not only how we look on the outside, but how we feel on the inside. When you’re busy cramming for tests and working on school deadlines, you might be less concerned with what you’re feeding yourself, sometimes sacrificing nutrition for convenience.
What you eat, however, has a lot to do with how you feel. The stomach muscles, for many people, are correlated with stress; “butterflies in the stomach,” for example, denote the symbiotic relationship between emotional and physical feelings.
Eating convenient foods might upset your stomach and have the potential to add to your stress level, in addition to providing less-than-ideal nutrient content. Make sure you’re getting enough fruits and vegetables, and both your body and your mind will thank you. In addition to eating well, exercise is an excellent stress reliever.
Taking care of yourself is the most important factor in achieving your goals, academic or otherwise. By making sure your mind is at ease and your body is well looked after, you’ll be better prepared for everything the new school year has in store for you.
Use these tips and on-the-go practices to stay cool, calm, and collected this year.
Look to Numerology, Virgo, and number six for more Back to School tips.