This past week, DuPeace & Justice was fortunate enough to have Lex White, one of the organization’s officers, lead the group in a variety of mindfulness techniques in order to provide some tools for arguably the most stressful weeks of the semester. The theme of the meeting was “Peace with Self.” We learned some real applicable ways to acknowledge stress and anxiety, like simple yoga poses that we can do while studying or picking a positive mantra to repeat to reset our thought patterns. However, she explained that if we do not have inner peace, we will not have outer peace. If we feel completely overwhelmed and stretched thin inside, it’s going to have an effect outside, which could include friendships, assignments, tests and just your physical health.
Now, let’s be frank. It is hell week, and finals week is just a few days away — does anyone truly have anytime to make sure that their inner self is functioning in a healthy way? As a senior, I can attest that if you don’t create time to give yourself a break, you will inevitably have a breakdown at one of the most inconvenient times possible. I believe that as students we push ourselves to the brink of a mental breakdown frequently, and finals week is an incredibly terrible time for that to happen which makes it even more vital to take little steps to lessen the chances of that happening.
So here are some concrete ways to give yourself a break:
1. Take a lap. Whether you are in a residence hall, your house or the library, just get up and move, even if it’s just for five minutes.
2. Stretch. You can easily do this sitting down at a desk. Just move your neck around slowly (with enough pressure to ensure you’re getting a deep stretch) clockwise and then counterclockwise, and repeat.
3. Have a mantra, or a positive phrase that you repeat over and over again. If you feel yourself starting to become overwhelmed use your mantra as a reset button to try and calm down.
4. Stay in the present. Whenever I experience anxiety I tend to take a minute and literally name in my head what I am physically doing: it might be sitting in the library, at a desk, in a chair, talking to a friend and then I end with saying, “and nothing else is happening to me.” As I go through what is taking place in the moment, the anxiety I experience tends to fade away because I realize that the only entity making me feel stress is myself.
5. In the words of Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle, treat yo’ self. Set realistic goals and when you achieve them, give yourself a treat. Maybe it’s a 10 minute dance party or a power nap. Either way positive reinforcement does wonders on the psyche.