Feeling stressed? Anxious? It’s totally normal to stress over school, work or life in general but there are a few ways to implement mindfulness based stress reduction to stop things from getting too overwhelming.
Mindfulness is a great way to take a breather and chillax your mind and body! We’ve summarised what mindfulness really is, how it can help and some quick and easy mindfulness tricks that you can do everyday.
Let’s get into it!
Mindfulness is more than just sitting around and staying quiet. It centralises on being fully aware in the present moment, while allowing your thoughts and feelings to flow without distraction or judgement.
Lots of research has shown that mindfulness is an effective way to regulate stress and anxiety through both physical and emotional means.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness based stress reduction but there are three key principles that all mindfulness activity follow:
- Intention to instil awareness and repeat it
- Attention to the present moment by letting your thoughts, emotions and feelings arise
- Attitude that is non-judgemental, open-minded and nice
5 Ways Mindfulness Works
Mindfulness’ ultimate benefit is how it transforms the way you relate to yourself and others in your environment. Let’s see how mindfulness can work to reduce your stress and anxiety for you!
Here are the five of many specific ways mindfulness can help with your stress and anxiety.
#1: Regulate and process your emotions
Interestingly, scientists have found that mindfulness can alter your brain structure to regulate emotions and handle stress better! More specifically it reduces the activity of your amygdala, a region in the brain that controls stress, thereby alleviating your stress.
Mindfulness and its emotional regulation can become very crucial for your senior years of high school where the never-ending assessments and exams can lead to stress at an all-time high. So, it’s never too early to start!
#2: Build and use healthier coping strategies
Mindfulness meditation gives you time to think through the situation by being in the present, thus preventing you from making rash decisions. Research has shown that those who are more aware of their presence are more likely to use strategies that will result in better health and well-being in response to stressful events.
This means that with mindfulness, you’ll be able to develop study tactics that are more productive and effective for you without burning out — increasing the likelihood of improving your marks!
#3: Increase focus on school assignments and exams
With mindfulness and its stress alleviation, you become less distracted when it comes to work, allowing you to get into the zone or flow with a clear and open mind. This consistent workflow can really help you by disciplining yourself to study when you need to according to schedule, allowing space for other stuff like your hobbies, friends and more!
This clarity can also help you with coming up with new, interesting and creative ideas for your assessments that can wow your teachers! It can also be really useful during revisions for exams as you pay more attention when you’re studying, making you less likely to forget your notes.
#4: Listen to what your body needs
Oftentimes, we tend to neglect what our body wants or needs us to do. Mindfulness can help you centre into your thoughts and feelings to actually hear what your body is asking you to provide to prevent pain or further health implications.
This can be incredibly crucial for your HSC years to prevent burnout, as students can often neglect their own mental and physical health to get the grade they want. At the end of the day, it’s your health that is the most important!
#5: Transform your attitude towards stress
Mindfulness can really help you feel more in control over stressful situations and eventually transform the way you perceive and react to these kinds of situations. For example, you may come to see how stress can actually be a positive driving force to make you work more efficiently.
This can be extremely important, not only in your high school life, but also in the real world where criticism and stressful situations are very common. Ultimately, it helps you build resilience to take on whatever the world throws at you!
The easiest way to start practicing mindfulness based stress reduction is to sit down in a quiet place and let your thoughts, feelings and sensations come as they are. If you struggle doing this by yourself, feel free to download any mindfulness app for courses.
If you don’t have time to allocate to practicing mindfulness, here are 5 easy ways you can integrate it into your daily routine:
#1: Walking between classes
Mindfulness can transform your everyday boring activities into an insightful experience! As you are walking to your next class, try focusing on what you feel from experience.
Note how each step feels under your soles, the sunshine hitting your back or the noise of the tree leaves rustling to the wind. If you catch yourself drifting away in your thoughts, pull yourself back into the moment by drawing your attention back to your breathing as you walk.
#2: Talking to your friends
You can also practice mindfulness when you’re talking with your friends! Whenever you feel like you and your friend are entering a heated argument, try to listen to your friends without judging them first.
By paying attention to them rather than forming a defence in your head, you can fully grasp what your friend is communicating and react in a more kind and compassionate manner. This can build your friendships as you start listening to others rather than argue with them, earning their trust!
#3: Preparing for big exams or presentations
If you’re ever feeling worried or stressed before a big assessment, find some alone space for yourself and hone in on your feelings. Let any negative emotions flow and accept them as what you are feeling, and not who you are.
You can also centre your focus on your body’s reaction to stress to relax it. Whether it be a clenched fist, sweaty neck or goosebumps, acknowledge them and accept them and you will find that your body will start to calm down and release that stress.
#4: Eating a meal
If you’re eating a delicious meal, it can be really easy to practice mindfulness! Try focusing on what you feel as you eat your food — think about the mouthfeel, the taste and the smell. Name your emotions as you bite into and chew your food.
This can really help you live in the moment and notice all the little things that make food so yummy, but also clear and empty your mind for the day!
#5: Before you sleep
If you absolutely have no time at all for mindfulness meditation, you can always do it before you fall asleep. As you lay in bed at night, turn off your devices and notice what you think or feel. You can start by noting your breathing and how your body feels against the mattress, then allow your thoughts to flow.
Sleep meditation needs to come naturally, so don’t force it! Let your thoughts flow as they come.
5 Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Tips and Tricks
You’re not alone — starting to practice mindfulness can be difficult for a lot of beginners but here are some tips and tricks we have to help you get started with your mindfulness process:
#1: Remind yourself that you are not your thoughts
We beat ourselves up over our thoughts very often, but practicing mindfulness is all about accepting what you think and feel as the way they are — and this includes all things good and bad!
Just remind yourself that whatever you think does not define who you are. Your thoughts do not actually represent the truth nor do they need you to act on them. Instead, letting go of your mind is a step towards getting to know yourself better!
#2: Focus on your breathing
Whenever you feel yourself getting distracted or drawn away from your mindfulness time, you can always pull yourself back by focusing on your breathing. It doesn’t need to be during meditation time too, as you can do this whenever you’re implementing mindfulness in your everyday activities such as walking, eating and sleeping!
#3: Get creative
Mindfulness is not limited to just sitting down and staying quiet — you can implement mindfulness in almost everything you do!
Don’t feel afraid to try practicing mindfulness in everything you do, especially in the most boring activities that make you tune out or sleep. It’s actually those moments where you can really strengthen your awareness!
#4: Prioritise mindfulness
Mindfulness is a very powerful tool, not only for high school but for your own self-development too! So, it is highly important that you schedule to practice mindfulness everyday.
It doesn’t have to take long either, it can easily be a five minute session or during one of your everyday activities.
#5: Keep meditating!
Mindfulness and its results can take a while to really come about but don’t let this discourage you from continuing! It’s a process of getting to know yourself for self-development.
These results can be highly rewarding in the end as it really helps you tackle any stressful situation as a calm, kind and collected adult.
Mindfulness based stress reduction can ultimately help you handle anxiety and worries through improving your emotional regulation, response and development. Through this, you are able to focus more on your assignments and tasks while being aware of your physical health needs to prevent burnout.
In the long-term, it will improve your perception and attitude towards stress in preparation for your career and life after high school!
Share this with your friends if you find this useful! Hope our advice helps!
Kate Lynn Law graduated in 2017 with an all rounders HSC award and an ATAR of 97.65. Passionate about mentoring, she enjoys working with high school students to improve their academic, work and life skills in preparation for the HSC and what comes next. An avid blogger, Kate had administered a creative writing page for over 2000 people since 2013, writing to an international audience since her early teenage years.