From school and academic responsibilities to your social and personal life, life isn’t always easy, so make a point of being on your own side through the ups and downs.
This academic year, the landscape of the pandemic will also continue to change, and change brings with it uncertainty and loss. Though things have been improving, it’s wise to prioritize self-care. Think back to the ways you learned to cope with being stuck at home and doing most activities virtually. Or the ways you’ve managed other difficult periods of your life. What valuable skills have you developed through these life experiences? Keeping up with your tried-and-true coping skills is an important part of maintaining healthy stress levels.
Times of pressure and unknowns, like those you’re sure to face in school, provide the perfect opportunity to learn and practice mindfulness and self-compassion. Mindfulness is the practice of turning your nonjudgmental attention to the present moment. Self-compassion means acknowledging your pain and suffering when it shows up, seeing it as a shared human experience, and taking care of yourself to manage stress and difficult emotions. Together, these practices help you deepen your self-awareness and face life’s challenges with more calm and composure.
Follow these steps to practice mindfulness and self-compassion:
Check in with yourself daily.
For a few minutes every day, remove any distractions and check in with how you feel mentally, emotionally, and physically. Be open and allow yourself to feel whatever arises during this time.
A good posture for this practice is lying down on your back on your bed, with no distractions like your phone to pull your attention away. Notice everything you feel in the moment as it arises and do your best to maintain stillness. Your body will naturally begin to relax as the muscles loosen and surrender to gravity.
Focus your attention.
Find a place to focus your attention during this practice. Think of this as "home base." You may decide to focus on one point in front of you or the rhythm and sensations of your breath. Thoughts will likely pull you away, and anytime this happens simply return to feeling your body or breath. When you do, you may find that uncomfortable feelings and sensations dissolve on their own.
Notice without judgment.
There's no need to force discomfort away or make your mind blank in this practice. Instead of trying to drive away any unpleasant feelings or sensations, sit with them. You may choose to give unpleasant feelings or sensations a name, like fear, anger, frustration.
Show yourself compassion.
Remind yourself that whatever you experience is part of our shared human experience. Offer yourself a kind word or loving gesture, such as placing your hands over your heart.
Give yourself time for self-care when you're done. If you're not sure how to support yourself, remember what has worked to relieve stress in the past. Physical exercise of any form, journaling your thoughts and feelings, or talking to a friend or family member are all great ways to move toward equilibrium. Experiment with a variety of coping strategies and see what works for you.