Don’t knock it ‘til you try it: Meditate for midterms

By Megan Jones 

Wide-eyed and scared as I sit in a new room and a much taller bed, my mind bounces from issue to issue. Adjusting wasn’t as easy as the college movies make it seem. There’s the sad hug goodbye from your parents, one day of homesickness and then suddenly walking around the quad like an expert.

No, not really.tumblr_ml0fn5gkSn1rz430xo1_250

The first year brings more than new adjustments; it forces one to start over. Feeling as though your future is putty in your hands, it feels as if one mistake or missed opportunity could affect our future in who knows how. The stress began and I found myself walking down the halls looking for a new way to cope.

So, I visited the University’s counseling center, and after reading their pastel pamphlets and meeting with a counselor, I found it: meditation, specifically in the form of music.

Take time to relax 

The importance of allowing yourself to just take five minutes – not to worry about homework, or an upcoming midterm or what you’ll wear for the next big event- will help your stress level so much. Personally, I recommend using YouTube to find a variety of music depending on your personal taste. For me, I find listening to ocean sounds at bay and crickets in a forest kind of weird, so instead I focus on listening to relaxing instruments. It also helps to go through either deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery when you just really need to take your mind someplace else.

Talk to a counselor 

tumblr_inline_mnlk4hk3ao1qz4rgpI would recommend the counseling center at the University to anyone who is feeling overwhelmed in any way. Unfortunately it is difficult to get an appointment with the center because you have to call in at 7:50 a.m. and if you wait much longer than that, most appointments will be booked. Talking to someone and listening to their tips really helps put life in a better perspective. After attending a session, I felt much better about myself and my mindset changed completely.

Don’t sweat it 

Recognize that one midterm test will not determine your future, and take the time to meditate and focus on yourself.

Master the art of breathing in five steps 

tumblr_inline_mljrnswnmY1qz4rgp1. Start with a deep breath to slow down your heart rate and relax your muscles. Slowly, your mind will begin to relax too.

2. Notice when you are starting to think, “What am I doing here?! I should study right now.” Try to get past that feeling.

3. With each deep breath you take out, imagine the frustration of the day leaving your body too. Is your roommate just in your space today? Breathe it out.

4. Use one of the guided meditations right before you plan to go to sleep, and I swear you’ll find yourself wanting to pull out your headphones and pass out even before it’s over.

5. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable! Many picture meditation as sitting cross-legged with your hands on your thighs saying “hummm.” It isn’t necessarily that way. When I meditate, I simply lay in bed with my legs stretched out.

For more meditation resources on campus, check out these sites:

The McKinleyHealthCenter offers a variety of relaxation techniques found here:

http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/units/health_ed/relax_relaxation_exercises.htm

The CampusRecreationCenter, located at the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) and CRCE (Campus Recreation Center East), both offer group fitness classes for meditation and relaxation.

The McKinleyHealthCenter offers a stress management program for students to explore strategies and techniques. Several stress management workshops are available.

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