Mental health is a popular topic amongst the Bates student body. There are GPAs to maintain, careers to plan, social lives to balance and an unending list of things that we tackle everyday. It can all get overwhelming, especially when emotional and physical health are in the picture; balancing everything together can be challenging and time consuming. Undeniably, our GPAs are important and the current job market is competitive. Working towards all of these goals simultaneously takes up hours. Thus, intentional mindful practice continues to be of prime importance today.
I’ve often thought that thirty minutes is too much time to dedicate to sitting quietly in one position and basically “doing nothing”—meditation never seemed as important as thirty extra minutes to edit, or even thirty extra minutes on the treadmill. However, the problem is that too many of us give mindfulness less priority than it is worth. We call it a waste of time because it might not be considered “active” in the conventional sense.
That is a myth. Mindful practices help individuals actively develop values and the strength necessary for tackling daily challenges. In a rigorous college environment amidst a hectic schedule, thirty minutes can even fall short for an effective mindful practice.
It is so easy to get lost in anxiety and stress when deadlines are approaching or internships feel impossible to land. We feel competitive, especially when social media constantly informs us of how everyone else is doing. These phenomena usher in subconscious thoughts of inferiority, apocalyptic conclusions, envy, fear, and pain. In the midst of all that, finding compassion and happiness is difficult. However, compassion is key for a healthy mind set, and self-compassion is essential for overall happiness; compassion combats stress. Therefore, an intentional practice of compassion blocks anxiety.
Unfortunately, our schedules rarely allow time to develop self-compassion—that is, unless time is intentionally set aside to do so. Finding time to practice self-care in a mindful context is more important as one gets busier: increased deadlines breed increased anxiety. Higher performance-expectations imply more work. The more daunting your life gets, the less time you have. Yet work only increases.
Any of several mindful methods, such as yoga or meditation, are imperative for better mental and overall health. A simple yoga routine is similar to exercise: it forces the mind to disconnect and focus on the body’s movement. Meditation builds on positive values like empathy and courage. Both are mindful practices, but neither are usually prioritized. Without an allotted time for self-care, most of us forget to actively practice compassion or build self-worth. As college students, we tend to place it below work and social life. But our schoolwork and social lives can only be successfully managed when experienced from a healthy standpoint.
Anxiety, fear and doubt are powerful enough to subtract from our happiness and calmness levels. Mindful practices increase happiness. They give us the space to develop like interpersonal skills, mental clarity, self-love, and positive drive. Regardless of workload, time scheduled for intentional self-care is not only helpful, it’s essential.