It is no secret that college students are dealing with astronomical amounts of stress this semester due to COVID-19. Jessica Schindler, a doctoral intern at WSU CAPS said that practicing mindfulness for only 10 minutes a day can help keep students centered.
“My definition of mindfulness is being present in the moment,” Schindler said. “Instead of worrying so much about the future or ruminating in the present, which is where a lot of stress comes from, you focus on staying in the moment with your breathing or whatever you are focusing on in that moment, and just kind of be present and aware with your senses and whatever is going on around and inside you.”
Schindler said that research indicates that mindfulness can be helpful for minor stress, depression, and anxiety. Schindler said that mindfulness can also be helpful in today’s fast-paced culture.
Mindfulness can be integrated into everyday activities, Schindler said.
“It doesn’t have to be anything intense,” Schindler said. “A lot of people hear the word mindfulness and think about zen or meditation or these really intense practices.”
Schindler said that she practices mindfulness for 10 minutes a day while doing her makeup, while some other people like to take 30 minutes to do a formal meditation practice. Schindler said that people should do whatever feels best for them.
Schindler said that it is common for people to try practicing mindfulness and give up because they have racing thoughts or can’t focus on their breath.
“Honestly, at first I did have the same struggles and insecurities that a lot of people do when they start practicing,” Schindler said. “It is a skill that takes practice and knowing that fact helped me to stick with it. Also knowing that I don’t have to be good at it, and I don’t have to be an expert. I just have to practice everyday and by nature it will become more beneficial as I continue.”
Schindler’s tips for those just starting out are to focus on their breath, which can anchor them to the present moment. She said they can also focus on the sensation of the air coming through their nose, the temperature, how their lungs feel, and how they feel in that moment to keep them grounded.
“The thing about mindfulness is that it’s not necessarily something that you can be good or bat at, it’s just something that you can practice,” Schindler said. “If you are having a difficult time, just noting that you are having trouble is practicing mindfulness. When we have thought about being ‘good’ at mindfulness it can be a barrier to practicing.”
Through CAPS social media, Jessica hosts a Facebook livestream on Wednesday’s called Keep Calm Breathe Online. She leads viewers through a brief mindfulness exercise, with themes such showing gratitude towards our bodies and living in the present. She encourages viewers to ask questions throughout the livestream.
“As far as what I hope it does for students, I hope that it gives them a sense of relaxation and just some practice with mindfulness … having that time set aside for students or faculty or whoever is watching for their mindfulness practice and then they can just go about their day,” Schindler said.