What is mindfulness and why do I need it?

Olivia Fazzino, Guest Writer

Mindfulness is a big buzzword these days. If you’re in the business world or have attended a career planning course, then you are most likely familiar with this word. But what does this word really mean and is it actually useful to us?

The definition of the word “mindfulness” has a lot to do with the concept of Zen. Oxford Dictionary defines mindfulness as “a mental state achieved by concentrating on the present moment, while calmly accepting the feelings and thoughts that come to you, used as a technique to help you relax.” Mindfulness is something that we are all born with, but we can all use taking some time to hone our ability to act mindfully.

Mindfulness is an idea that can be particularly helpful in the lives of students, especially during college. College students are busier than ever and deal with the combined pressure of becoming an adult while balancing classes, homework, friends and family. Furthermore, as the world is slowly becoming more and more tech-savvy, college students and the younger generation must learn to navigate the changing path. In this hectic era, it would benefit the majority of college students to pause to find peace. 

Practicing mindfulness is a great way to reduce stress levels. For those suffering from anxiety, this practice can be especially useful. Taking a step back to breathe and acknowledge what is going on can bring down heart rates and altogether ease your soul. 

An example of a popular mindfulness practice is to hold a snack in your hand. Instead of eating it right away, pause for a moment. Observe things that you normally wouldn’t notice when you eat. Take note of the colors, smell, feel and weight. Then, eat it at a slower pace than normal. What do you notice about the snack when it isn’t consumed at lightning speed?

This activity doesn’t apply only to snacks. Another way it can be beneficial is by using your smartphone. Holding your phone in your hand, observing it from afar, can help to bring us back to reality and realize that much of what we do is held in this tiny device. 

One other area where mindfulness can be particularly beneficial is in the world of social media. Social media has been a source of much controversy since its inception. One cannot deny that while it brings people together in a virtual community, it can also be the source of stress, comparison to others and general uneasiness. A “love-hate” relationship, so to speak.

How can mindfulness be incorporated into the digital world? The answer is another buzzword: intentionality. Before you open Instagram or Snapchat, take a step back and make sure you know what you are getting yourself into. Set intentions for what you will see. For example, what this might look like is to pause, take a breath and sit for a moment. What expectations do you have for this? What impact do you plan on having? How will what you see affect your day?

Another great way to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life is to set your intentions at the beginning of the day. When you wake up, think about what you expect your day to look like. Let go of anything that isn’t fully predetermined. Trust your gut, too. What do you need to do in order to make the healthiest decisions for your day?

The next time you are feeling particularly anxious or stressed, take a step back, and ask yourself what is really going on. You will become more and more in touch with yourself as time goes on.

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