Calm down. Yeah, that’s right, I said it. It perplexes me to my very core why that phrase has turned into a trigger for much of our generation. Some of your internal responses may have been, “Don’t tell me to calm down!” Or, maybe a few of you listened.
With midterm season upon us, it’s easy to react prematurely to pretty much everything thrown at you. It’s easy to allow the crushing weight of having to positively impact all of humanity in one fell swoop — ‘cause that’s what college makes you feel like you have to do, am I right? It’s easy to use the notions of stress, lack of sleep, or test anxiety to justify lashing out or turning into an overly emotional hermit crab version of yourself. But don’t.
You’re in college or pursuing a higher education because you have dreams, because you have ambition — heck, I’m going to assume it’s because you’re talented. When midterms, tests, projects, and other assignments seem like too much to even fathom overcoming, just breathe.
Some call it meditation. This may be against every fiber of your being. Maybe you think meditation is only for a certain sect of the population that also consumes soy meat and puts yogurt in their hair — but it’s not. Meditation is a complex yet incredibly simple concept. It is founded upon the principles of breathing, positive thoughts, self-reflection, and belief. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
Before you can begin a meditation routine and outline what exactly would work for you, it’s important to pinpoint the cause or causes of your stress. The answer may not be as obvious as, “Well, duh, I’m obviously stressed out about my exams.” Fear, anxiety, anger, and depression are all dependent on one another. Stopping the spiral before it starts can be as easy as replacing every negative thought with a positive one. It’s not impossible.
Having a meditation routine can have the basic framework of setting yourself up with your favorite, somewhat calming music accompanied by some deep breaths. Hang out with a dog. Seriously. If the weather is pleasant, take a walk to a quiet area near your apartment, home, or on campus. Find a comfortable spot and just sit. Put away your homework. Stop thinking so much. Close your eyes. Again, breathe. Fifteen to thirty minutes should be plenty of time to refocus yourself, but take longer if you need to.
If you feel as though a full-on excursion away from your studies would be too distracting, you can meditate right in your study space. Just follow along with the same principles of regular breathing, calming music, and positive thoughts. Do some light stretching.
If the concept of meditation still seems unnatural or confusing to you, check out The Young Adult’s Guide to Meditation: Easy Techniques That Reduce Stress and Relieve Anger, Anxiety, & Depression for $19.95 on Amazon. It will offer more step-by-step instructions on how to properly meditate and will help you determine what works best for you.
Look at it this way, if you’re spending hours in the library, coffee shop, or study area in your apartment poring over a textbook, rereading notes, and making fat stacks of flashcards — the odds are already in your favor. Why would you even entertain the thought that you’re going to do anything but your best?