Updated: Aug 2, 2022
Let's admit it: High school years can be extremely stressful. You find yourself working to the point of a mental breakdown, a point where you can't take it anymore and are on the brink of giving up. Or sometimes, you stay awake till 4 A.M. in the morning, wringing your hands over a seemingly insurmountable math problem. While all of that is inherent to a student's life, the scary part is that most of us are unaware of how to deal with such a grueling lifestyle. Besides having to partake in the intense competition to take challenging courses, amass impressive extracurriculars, preparing for examinations, there is also the challenge of navigating the social quandaries that all adolescents face.
Lack of parental support, lack of sleep, substance abuse, and handling romantic relationships are also some of the problems that high school students face. However, as a student
myself, I can vouch for the fact that all are not that bad. While these hurdles may seem unassailable, there is always a way out of them. Based on my experiences, practising mindfulness has been one of the most useful techniques.
Mindfulness: We've all heard that word way too many times to say that we haven't. But what exactly is mindfulness? Mindfulness refers to a type of meditation in which you seek to focus entirely on the present, what you're sensing and feeling, without any judgement or interpretation. In other words, it is a state of mind wherein you are liberated from all anxieties of the future and simply live in the moment.
It serves as a hiatus from the outside world, which may be overwhelming, and centres our attention to the present moment. While all of this might sound convoluted and stiflingly philosophical to you - it isn't all that tough. The significance of mindfulness comes into play when we are smothered with the anxieties and uncertainties of the future - something that is not unheard of in students. Making plans and solving problems in your head all day long, coupled with dwelling upon all sorts of negativity can drain the life out of you while also resulting in reduced sleep, changes in appetite, decreased attention, etc. How can we, as students, practice mindfulness? As students, we have hectic schedules, chock-a-blocked with deadlines, assignments, tests, and whatnot. The first step to practising mindfulness is to realise that partaking in an activity as calming as mindfulness must not be viewed as a 'burden'. It is important to recognise that mindfulness is what would help us drive ourselves out of the exhaustion, worry and stress to which we have so blindly adapted.
Mindfulness doesn't require much of our time or energy. Rather, it serves to re-energise us. Mindfulness can be practised by anyone and everyone, as it doesn't require us to change. Rather, it is a way of living. Some of the ways in which I practice mindfulness are listed below: Guided Meditations and Breathing ExercisesGuided meditations are designed to relieve ourselves of stress, anxiety, negative emotions, to cool ourselves down whenever our temper flares, and to sharpen attention and concentration. One can find a repository of guided meditations and breathing exercises on various apps like Insight Timer, Calm, Headspace, and buddhify among others. These can be done virtually anywhere - in the car, right before you go to bed, at work or school. One of the times guided meditations helped me the most was before challenging exams. I would sit on the bench and take a moment to focus on my breathing and ground myself. Guided meditations have been found to be one of the best ways to cultivate mindfulness.
Visualisation and Guided Imagery:
The visualisation includes vividly imagining the events you truly wish to manifest in your life, be it good grades in an exam or getting into the college of your dreams or even dating the person you like. It demands the incorporation of the power of the five senses as it adds detail and specificity to what you wish to manifest. I have used visualisation techniques before important presentations, vivas, exams as well as to build my confidence. Visualisation instantly makes you feel better and fuels you to keep going. While it might not sound very credible to someone who hasn't heard of it in the past, creative visualisation for the purpose of manifestation is one of the cornerstones of psychology, as demonstrated by Ornish in his experiment.
Check with yourself every day, pause for a moment and check in with your emotions and mood. Notice as you grow conscious of your mood shifts and emotional intentions. Ask yourself how you feel.
Yes, you heard that right! Sleeping not only serves to rejuvenate you but also rewires your brain by clearing all the junk that gets accumulated in your head. Make it a habit to take a nap in the afternoons, as an afternoon nap a day keeps the troubles away (or so I feel)! Don't compromise on your sleep for anything. Not only does lack of sleep result in reduced attention and concentration, but also fatigue throughout the day and attenuated problem-solving.
Take a breath of fresh air
I mean this, both symbolically and literally. Banality has the capacity to ruin your mood and so does leading a sedentary lifestyle. On days you feel you need to shake off the vestiges of negativity, step out! Stepping out doesn't necessarily mean working out and soaking yourself in sweat. It can mean going for a simple walk in your park and practising grounding techniques for which an open, natural space maybe your best location.
Not only is this a break from the frantic world we live in, but it also has a placating and healing effect. Honour yourself and your emotions When you begin practising and cultivating mindfulness, you'd find yourself hemmed in by a 'positivity' cult. This cult, which might look pretty harmless on the surface, can be extremely dangerous and detrimental.
They would constantly try to impose their positivity on you and make you feel like it's a wicked thing to not feel good at times. They are the ambassadors of Toxic Positivity - the idea that, regardless of a person's emotional agony or difficult situation, they must always have a positive mindset or 'positive vibes'. While it is definitely ideal to see the good in every situation, it isn't always possible to do that. We often suppress our feelings of exhaustion, stress, anxiety, and grief to 'stay positive'. However, doing that equates to invalidating and dishonouring our own emotions as it's completely human to feel emotions other than those of joy. our authentic human emotional experiences. So, honouring our emotions means that we must never shame ourselves for what we're feeling. Feel those emotions and then deal with them.
Disclaimer: Kindly note that the above blog has been submitted by members in their individual capacity.