Mindfulness and meditation help students relax

Mindfulness+and+meditation+help+students+relax

As the semester heats up, it is essential to remember to take a few minutes and breathe, to relax and to avoid burnout right as midterms finish and finals begin.
A great way to avoid this burnout and to recharge is by incorporating mindfulness and meditation into your life.
Though it may not seem like it, mindfulness can do amazing things for people.
Exquisite Riddle, a graduate student in Gannon University’s clinical and mental health counseling program, said there can be both physical and mental benefits associated with mindfulness.
“Mindfulness is just bringing yourself back to the present,” Riddle said.
“Sometimes, we get caught up in our thoughts and we need to take a moment to just be present, to focus on the here-and-now.”
Mindfulness can come in a few different forms, but ultimately, it focuses on centering yourself and allowing you to focus on the moment and what is important.
Some of the ways students can practice mindfulness is through focusing on breathing or an object, tensing muscles then relaxing them or naming things with their senses.
“These techniques can help slow down your thoughts, reduce stress, anxiety, depression and muscle tension, along with improved sleep and overall well-being,” Riddle said.
It only takes practicing mindfulness once a week to make it a habit. From there, you can move to twice a week.
Meditation is a similar alternative to mindfulness. With similar effects to mindfulness, it is another great practice to take time for yourself, and relax and refocus.
A great place to start with mindfulness can be with a short, guided video to focus on breathing. There are plenty of videos on YouTube or a simple Google search where anyone can access it.
Fernando Guzman Perez, a senior sport management and marketing major, said he uses YouTube to help him relax. He looks for soothing night sounds or sounds of the rainforest or ocean that remind him of home.
He said it helps him relax and sleep more easily. It’s something he uses almost every night.
The video doesn’t have to be long either, whether it’s for just relaxing or for help meditating. Ten minutes is sometimes enough, especially when just getting started.
“It gives you enough time to slow down but without feeling like it’s taking forever,” Riddle said.
Chloe Kernan, a sophomore public service and global affairs major, said she also understands the importance of taking a moment for yourself.
She practices mindfulness in her own way. She regularly does yoga to take time to help relax.
Though she does this on her own at school, Kernan attends yoga classes while she’s home.
Starting to practice mindfulness and meditation can be a solo journey, but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of groups and programs on campus to help get started.
If you are interested in starting to practice mindfulness but do not know where to go, a great place to start is by going to program that has recently started called Mindfulness Mondays.
Mindfulness Mondays take place in Gannon’s Health and Counseling Center located on the lower level of Harborview Apartments at 210 W. Sixth St.
Between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Mondays, attendees can learn all about mindfulness, breathing and grounding, the benefits of aromatherapy and various types of tea, Riddle said.
So far, only one student has attended these sessions. But Riddle said she hopes to see attendance increase as the program continues.
“Along with the idea that starting groups on campus, while needed, can also have ups and downs in terms of participation,” she said.
If you’re still interested in trying a mindfulness group but Mondays don’t work for you, there are other options available.
Kathleen Ellwood, the director of Gannon’s Academic Advising Center, has plans to start her own mindfulness group.
Campus is soon to have a meditation group as well. Joshua Will, who currently leads a yoga class at the Recreation and Wellness Center, also plans to start a weekly meditation group, which will be open to Gannon students.

ALEXA ROGERS
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