Studies can lead to stress. So, as students, our brains might chatter nonstop. We might second guess ourselves. We might toss and turn rather than drift into lullaby land. We might complain of headaches, sore muscles, and tiredness. We might even mingle with mental illness—after all, anxiety and depression can stem from negative thoughts, overthinking, and endless worries (Hill & Sharp, 2019). But if you worry often (like I do), then take comfort. We can more than heal; we can become our own best versions. Beef patties to triple A’s? I’m in!
So, how can we stop worrying?
For one, we can exercise.
“Go for a mindful jog, a relaxing yoga class, or do sit-ups and on-the-spot exercises you can do right in your own home, like running in place, squats, and push-ups. It may be a good idea to enroll yourself in boxing classes or join a sport” (Hill & Sharp, location 535 of 1998, 27%). Not much releases exam tension better than punching pads. But be careful your upper cut punch doesn’t clip your own chin. (Yes, that hurts.)
For another, we can practice mindfulness.
“When a worry arises, don’t pick it apart, don’t judge it, don’t get anxious about it, simply understand that this worry is just a thought and that is all it is. There is no action you need to take; there are no feelings you need to attach to it; there is nothing you need to do with this thought except be mindful that it is there” (Hill & Sharp, 2019, location 535 of 1998, 27%). I’ve learned that sometimes we can’t control our situations. Events occur and emotions arise. No-one is perfect. And often new doors open when bad stuff strikes. So, the next time an ice storm brews, think popsicle stands.
For yet another, instead of changing the people around us, we can change ourselves.
“[We] cannot control someone else’s behavior, but [we] can control how [we] react and what [we] perceive from their words or actions. Understand that, in most cases, [we] can only control how [we] react or behave in situations or when confronting someone else” (Hill & Sharp, 2019, location 550 of 1998, 27%). If I feel jealousy, I turn it into unconditional love. If I feel hopeless, I seek out projects that whip up zest. If I feel anger, I practice patience and forgiveness. And, at first, such healthy changes sting like my chin after a misplaced upper cut punch. But listen to the Buddhist monks. They say, once it no longer hurts, we’ve arrived. Ouch!
Lastly, we can meditate.
“Meditation is one of the most effective relaxation strategies …. Meditation is not just a quick fix to calming [us] down, but a long-term, effective solution in training [our] mind to handle stressful situations better” (Hill & Sharp, 2019, location 565 of 1998, 28%). I started meditating for fifteen minutes a day, broken up into 5-minute stints. And today I doubled my meditation time. According to an article, when we meditate not only do we benefit, but our loved ones do, too. The study says that, when we meditate regularly, the people we interact with show reduced negative emotions. So, next time you spend the house down-payment on textbooks, meditate.
Now to meditate on that exam—or upper cut punch. But before the face reddens, remember the monks’ motto: when it no longer hurts, we’ve arrived.