Why start with mindfulness: focus, well-being and better grades

9. 5. 2024 | Student Life

mindfulnessMindfulness means intentionally paying attention to the present moment. It helps to cope with negative emotions, anxiety, or stress. It also has a positive effect on our concentration. So it is definitely one of the skills worth learning.

Mindfulness is not something we learn overnight, but through simple exercises it can be developed and gradually mastered. It can help us improve our ability to perceive not only what is happening in our body, but also in our head.

There are different methods to practice it, but the basic idea is to focus our attention on one thing. It can be our breath, a part of our body, an object in the room, or even a feeling or smell.

How to practice mindfulness

When starting out, set aside time to practice. The exercises should be regular and you only need to practice them for a few minutes. They can be a bit like meditation or yoga, but they are not the same. They don’t require sitting in a certain position, listening to music or doing breathing exercises (although these have their place in mindfulness).

The key is to stop and focus your attention on one specific thing. For example, it is good to start with our senses. Mindfulness can then be practiced virtually anywhere.

Practicing with the senses

The advantage is that we can do this kind of exercise even in our normal daily activities. For example, when we go to school, instead of listening to music in headphones, we can listen to the sounds around us, thinking about where they come from and how loud they are. In the same way, we can focus on what we see around us.

If we are eating something, notice the taste, how hot the food is. We shouldn’t be on our cell phones or watching TV while eating and focus fully on the fact that we are eating.

Breathing exercises

The simplest breathing exercises include being aware of our own breath and its regularity. In doing so, it is always good to keep in mind that the exhale should be longer than the inhale. By focusing our attention on our breath, we calm ourselves internally and have the opportunity to notice how our body reacts, where we feel pain and tension.

During breathing exercises, you can also try visualization, imagining that you are swimming in the sea and alternating between phases below and above the surface. The main function of this particular exercise is to make us forget for a moment what we are dealing with right now, and this will allow us to relax.

Time for yourself

An important part of your daily or at least weekly routine should be time for yourself. We should focus on activities where we are just focused on the present, where we are not glued to the screen, and those that make us happy.

For example, some people like to go for a walk in the countryside, others like to work out. It’s also a good idea to try what’s called a ‚gratitude exercise‘, where we write down three things we’re grateful for on a piece of paper each morning or evening. These can be little things like good coffee, warm weather, a conversation with a friend, or even just feeling good about the day.

How can mindfulness help us?

Everyone has some obstacles in life that they have to overcome. The thoughts and feelings that arise when stressed are not always entirely pleasant, and while we should certainly not suppress them, we should at least give ourselves a moment when we allow ourselves not to think about them.

With mindfulness, we can focus our attention better and can take a break from negative feelings. But it can also help us in our learning, as we will be able to concentrate for longer periods of time.

Mindfulness techniques are also used in medicine, where they have a place in treating diseases of the mind as well as of the body. Research by the American Mindfulness Research Association shows that it has a positive impact on sleep quality, concentration and empathy. It also helps in treating anxiety and symptoms of depression.

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