By Kihei Staruch-Paikai, English Major & ACH Clear Pathways/Community Writing Center Intern
It’s that time again. The grey hairs are beginning to sprout. The twinkle in your eye that you initially arrived at campus with is dwindling. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult for you to pay attention during class. Motivation and morale are at all-time lows. On top of that, the work never seems to cease. You even develop an ulcer due to stress and the copious amounts of coffee you consume. Where was I going with this again? Right. It’s that time again.
Except for my sessions with students from ACH, as the situation demands that I’m present and engaged, I feel like most days I operate on autopilot. Muscle memory takes over, as my fingers click away on the keyboard and flip through the pages of a book. It’s as if I have turned a button off. We’re almost mid-way through the semester. My body and my mind are all starting to show it. By suppressing my stress and anxiousness about work, I’ve managed to get by. However, is “getting by” the best I could be doing? No, definitely not.
Earlier today, I presented at the Sixth Annual Conference on the Integrity of Creation. Along with discussing environmental action (as this year’s theme was sustainability), I also talked about how we can better ourselves and increase awareness by integrating meditative practices into our daily routine. When we become more aware of ourselves, we’re more attentive to our words, actions, and how each one impacts other people. You’re able to appreciate life in the present moment, regardless if you’re swamped with work or not. Not only that, but meditative practices bring about a sense of peace and stillness. As students situated in this fast-pace, dreadfully demanding environment of academia, tranquility is probably something we all crave. At least, it’s something I crave. Yet, here I am, still stressed as ever.
I am not, by any means, the best at stress management. Far from it. But, by presenting on it and listening to the testimonies of those who have effectively reduced their stress and who have become more present in their everyday lives, I’m reminded of how important it is to prioritize mental health.
Even on your most stressful days, carve time out to care for yourself. Even if it’s just five minutes around lunch time, meditative practices can make a world of difference. Below are some of the meditative techniques that I’ve been introduced to. This list is not exhaustive. You deserve more than just “getting by”. Try some out! See which one fits you and your lifestyle best. Meditation is certainly not the end all be all, but it’s a start. I vow to dedicate more time to my practice, because I owe it to myself.
Here’s to practicing what you preach! Take care of yourselves 🙂