At-home mindfulness practices for busy students 

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“Fall semester!” Some say it with glee — the excitement of meeting old friends and returning to campus evident in their voices — while others say it with despair — the fear of difficult tests and overnight study sessions not forgotten.  

According to a TimelyCare survey, as reported by Alcino Donadel of University Business, “The telehealth provider [TimelyCare] surveyed 1,200 college students nationwide and discovered that 85% are experiencing more or the same level of stress compared to this time last year.” Moreover, Donadel reports that of the most common stressors college students can experience, “mental health is the prime catalyst.”  

Although there are many ways to address mental health, plausible options become limited when working within the constraints of students’ schedules. With these restrictions in mind, how can students attend to their mental wellness and busy schedules? One answer to this question is mindfulness.  

Mindfulness is defined as “the practice of cultivating awareness of thoughts and feelings and remaining focused on the present moment,” reports Radias Health. During mindfulness, it is key to remember that emotions themselves are not good or bad, and that rather than being caught up in them, participants should allow their emotions to flow through, Radias Health continues.  

Some of the proven health benefits that accompany mindfulness are: increased empathy and compassion, decreased stress, and anxiety, and better quality of life, according to Daphne M. Davis and Jeffrey A. Hayes of the American Psychological Association.  

Every Thursday from 10-11 a.m., the Reflection Center at UVU holds mindfulness practice for students and faculty. Led by Jarom Stubbs, a Usui Reiki Master certified in mindfulness, meditation, and yoga, the practices help students manage their emotions and achieve healthier mental wellness. Virtual appointments are also available for these practices.  

Yet, for students who cannot make the weekly meeting but still want to practice mindfulness, Stubbs shared some of his favorite techniques: 

S.T.O.P. Practice 

“S.T.O.P. is a simple mindfulness technique that has been used in multiple healing circles and therapeutic centers over the years. It can easily be done anywhere and anytime you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or otherwise of sorts,” explained Stubbs. 

S: Stop 

First, stop whatever you are doing or thinking. Set aside time to intentionally practice mindfulness. 

T: Take a breath 

Take a few breaths in and out. Use a rhythm and depth of breath that helps calm you the most. 

O: Observe 

Once you feel calmer, observe what you are feeling physically, emotionally and mentally. Identify and name your emotions. If your feelings are too strong or you can’t identify them, observe your physical surroundings and how they make you feel.  

P: Proceed 

Proceed by intentionally resuming what you were previously doing. If you need to slow down or take a break, do so. If you need to grab a snack or drink water, do it. This step asks you to become more in tune with yourself and your needs and desires. Proceed in a way that feels right. 

Mental Reset 

Stubbs explained that one of the most challenging aspects of mindful living is “our brain’s tendency to pull us away from the present and back into a distracted mindset.” Since this transition disrupts mindfulness, “one of the most helpful things you can do for your mindfulness training is to set reminders for yourself to return to the present moment.” To do this, Stubbs recommended that individuals set goals to recenter on the present whenever taking a drink, entering a new room, or whenever an alarm (set for mindfulness) goes off. 

Mindfulness can bring many mental health benefits. If students struggle to manage their anxiety and stress this fall, practicing mindfulness on campus or at home may be beneficial.