Submitted by Natalie Muscarella
After years of dealing with stress, I have learned that it can take as little as one minute a day to find relief. Everyone has to deal with stress at some point in their lives, the question is what is the best way to handle it?
College seniors are approaching their upcoming graduation in May. Many, including myself, are struggling to make plans for afterward. I must decide where I want to live after school, being an out-of-state student. Do I move back home to New York? If I choose not to move back home, I need to make enough money to rent an apartment somewhere. There is pressure to find a job right after graduation, but I do not see myself doing that. I still feel there is more for me to learn. Do I continue my education? While figuring all of this out, I still have to ace my classes this last semester, build my professional skills and apply for jobs. I know what you may be thinking right now; sounds stressful! Well, it is.
According to a study by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America in 2015, 85 percent of college students reported they have felt overwhelmed by everything they had to do. The feeling that you have too much on your plate makes it difficult to focus on what is right in front of you. It is easy to lose yourself in the process of figuring out the rest of your life. In actuality, the best thing to focus on during this process is finding yourself and checking in with your thoughts. This is easily forgotten unless there is a conscious effort to bring yourself back into awareness.
There is an article from the Huffington Post that mentions a program run by students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that aims to manage stress. The Yesplus program works on promoting the use of meditation and yoga as a daily practice. They offer yoga and meditation sessions, stress management workshops and meditation retreats.
“The regular meetups and the five-day meditation retreats Yesplus offers don’t just give students a break from overwhelming amounts of work — many students end up finding a deeper purpose beyond their academic careers,” as stated in the Huffington Post article. This goes to show that meditation can help students lead a more fulfilling life. The purpose of meditation is to go beyond the mind in order to connect with a higher level of consciousness within oneself.
As a graduating college student, I know it is easy to get caught up in what is going on all around me. Sometimes you have to take a step back from all of that and just let life flow before you. While I know it is important, I still find myself struggling to practice meditation on a daily basis. This is why it is necessary to create a routine for yourself and start out small.
A quick and easy method for beginners is to start by focusing on the breath. The best strategy I have found was in a video by Richard Williams, also known as Prince Ea, who is an American poet, filmmaker and activist. He uses a technique that only takes about one minute called the smiling mindful breath: First, you close your eyes and then smile a big genuine authentic smile. He said it works better if you picture someone that you love smiling back at you. Then you relax your smile after 15 seconds and inhale and exhale as deeply as you can. The final step is to bring your attention to the now, not the past or present, but the moment you are in.
There is an endless amount of strategies out there to help in coping with stress. The best thing to do is find one that you can see yourself fitting into your daily routine. It is important to address the stress you are feeling in order to live a happier, and more productive life.