Mindfulness exercises anyone can do any day, or every day.
Wake up 30 minutes early- This will allow you more time in the mornings to get yourself a better breakfast, time to exercise, or anything that you never seem to have time to do before you rush out of the house.
Make your bed- taking a little extra time to make your bed can help you find time to think about your daily schedule. What is on the list today? Anything special?
Remember your breathing exercises- Find a technique that you really like, whether it be ‘squish breath,’ ‘4 count square breath’ or any other technique, it is great to focus on breathing whether or not you’re stressed. Reminding yourself to breath is incredibly important to center your brain on you’re here and now, and to train your brain to slow down and think about itself for once. If you want to find awesome breathing exercises, they are all over the internet, take some time and find one that works for you.
Think about your surroundings- Take a few minutes out of your day to notice the things around you. Being mindful while doing this can look many ways, but a colleague of ours gave me a great example of how to remain mindful while observing the world around. Take note of 5 things in your environment, then tell yourself what that object is, and what color it is. Doing this takes the mind off stress and allows how a simple distraction that can re-center the self.
Think about your thoughts- when we are stressed, the things rushing through our heads is pretty much all the negative things in our lives. So, when you notice that you’re having overwhelming numbers of negative thoughts, think about “what is stressing me out?” This simple thought can help you work through why you have those feelings, what they’re doing to you, and how you can problem solve around them.
The power of the shower- shower meditation can be useful to a whole lot of people. Whether you shower in the morning or at night, being mindful while in the shower can be useful to let go of the frustrations or anxieties you will face (or have faced) that day. The water running over you has a calming effect on the brain which can allow you to think through the things that are going on in life. It is also a great way to gain the inspiring thoughts you truly need to get you through that next tough class, job, etc., and plus, you’re cleaning yourself, and thus being mindful of what your body needs, and being mindful of those who surround you.
Arrive at work or school a bit early- Arriving early sets you up for success and is a way for you to get prepared for your tasks even before the day begins. Being mindful of your time makes you a more successful person and creates a less anxiety-filled work/school day.
Take time to be mindful of the walk you’re on- Whether you are walking from class to class, or from the train/your car into the writing center, take two or three minutes to slow your pace and notice every time your feet come into contact with the pavement. This will help to center you to the Earth and will help you focus on something other than all the stress your day will bring you.
Talk with a colleague with better energy than you have- The day can wear us down… so try to avoid drama and anxiety first thing in your day. This will set your day up in a positive manner, so you can hopefully maintain that energy throughout your day.
Keep a clean environment- wipe down the table (whether you’re at home or at work/school) before you work. Practice Tabula Rasa- which means “blank slate.” This is a way to blank out the previous energy, good or bad, so we can start fresh and find a new balance that works with our next activity.
Debrief- with a coworker/fellow student that you trust if there are things in your day that particularly bugged you, or that you enjoyed.
When we write, we are able to get our stresses off our chest. Try to journal for 5 or 10 minutes, and just think about your day. What happened? Anything that made you angry, or sad, or particularly happy? Writing is a powerful way to not only express ourselves, but a way to express our stress and feelings in a healthy manner. The more stress you keep inside of you, the more stress will be able to pile up. Writing can be therapeutic in this way by allowing the writer to think through what happened during the day, week, month, etc. Manifesting our inner emotions through writing is a fabulous way to let go of what is truly troubling us.
At the MSU Denver Writing Center, we offer many outlets for students to stop and do some writing. We have safe, quiet spaces that are excellent for studying, therapeutic writing, and we have writing consultants who can practice mindfulness techniques with students to better prepare them for how hectic college is. We also have a few consultants who run therapeutic writing workshops to further practice our mindfulness through writing. Check out our workshop schedule during the semester to find one that works best for you.
Keep on writing!