At Nurtur Student Living we’re passionate about the wellbeing of our students. For our latest guest blog post, we teamed up with accredited mindfulness teacher Sue Sharp and asked her to share some of her top tips for student mindfulness.
Would you like to be able to focus better on your university studies and be less easily distracted by the urge to scroll through social media? Would you like to be kinder to yourself? To be less anxious and enjoy less turbulent friendships and relationships?
Would you just like to be happier and calmer? Then step this way, mindfulness may have a lot to offer you.
But what really is mindfulness? Mindfulness is about learning to be focused in the present moment in a kind and non-judgemental way, rather than being at the beck and call of your thoughts.
What is going on in your head can control the way you feel and behave each day. If your mind constantly drifts to ruminating about the past or worrying about the future, you can feel, anxious and find it difficult to concentrate on the here and now. But if you are able to learn to stay more focused in the present moment, a myriad of benefits begin to unfold.
How can we bring more mindfulness into our lives?
Meditate. Develop a daily mediation practice of 10 minutes per day. Sit quietly with your eyes closed and focus on your breath, breathing through your nose. Each time you notice you have been distracted by thoughts, just let the thought go and come back to watching the breath. There are many meditation tutorials on YouTube if you want some examples of how to practice.
Stay mindful during daily tasks. Pick a few tasks you do each day e.g. clean your teeth, have a shower, drink your first coffee. Try to stay completely present during that task each day. Fully engaged with all your senses, what can you see, hear, smell, taste and touch? On your walk to university, notice what’s going on around you and try to be in that moment, rather than thinking about all the things you have to do that day.
Use mindfulness bells. These are moments in your day which remind you to be present. My favourite is whenever you see a bird in the sky, stand still and really watch it. Not thinking about anything, just watching, noticing how it flies and following its journey across the sky. Also, try watching clouds in the sky and noticing how they move.
Just breathe. As many times as you can in the day, just become aware of your breathing, follow the whole of your in-breath and the whole of your out-breath. This has a soothing effect on our nervous system so can help us to alleviate stress. And as we can only breath in the present moment it is a great way of interrupting our thought and worry flow and coming back to this moment. Try this when you are feeling worried or stressed. It might be just before a lecture or the night before an exam or presentation. The more you practice the better.
Spend time in nature. Just spending time in nature has been shown to have a calming effect on our bodies and minds. If we spend our time mindfully, really noticing the trees and plants, smelling the air, hearing the birds and sensing the breeze on our skin, just a few minutes a day can be extremely beneficial. If you have a garden or park nearby, visit it regularly.
Start a gratitude journal. Each evening, write down five things you have been grateful for that day. This can be really little things or bigger events. Someone smiled at you. You got a great mark. You enjoyed your mindful walk to university. Doing this daily can really lift your mood over time.
Written by Sue Sharp, a Breathworks accredited mindfulness teacher and owner of mindfulness training business Planting Acorns