Be mindful: Stressed students, just breathe

Practices such as yoga and meditation offer relief in a face-paced, modern life.

by Jon Delperdang

Sixteen credits. Twenty hours of work per week. Relationships, friendships and family issues. Bad economy. All this pressure adds up to two things: stress and the inability to function optimally. If you feel bogged down by stress, you are not alone. A 2008 survey of University of Minnesota students by Boynton Health Service found roughly 70 percent of students claim stress is an issue in their lives. In the same survey, one-third of students surveyed reported that stress negatively affects their academic performance. Scientific studies correlate stress to high blood pressure, the inability to focus, the inability to fall asleep and the inability to think creatively. There are a number of healthy ways to cope with stress. We hear all the time about exercising, eating healthy and getting enough sleep, but there are another set of practices that recent studies show great benefits for reducing stress. IâÄôm talking about mindfulness practices, such as meditation, yoga, qigong, tai chi and others. Studies by researchers like Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin and Jon Kabat-Zinn of the University of Massachusetts have found that mindfulness practices increase oneâÄôs ability to focus, create relaxed mental states and think creatively, while decreasing blood pressure and aiding in sleep. Here at the University there are a number of resources to explore mindfulness practices. Boynton has free yoga, tai chi and Pilates classes multiple times during the week. The Center for Spirituality and Healing has classes you can take about a wide range of mindfulness practices. With finals just around the corner, you deserve some self-care. Even if you just spend 10 minutes a day practicing mindfulness on your own by sitting in a chair and focusing on your breath, those few moments can go a long way toward improving your health, your sanity and, quite possibly, your GPA. So relax and let go. You deserve it. Jon Delperdang University undergraduate student President Mindfulness for Students