We would all benefit from living with less anxiety and more focused attention spans. And these traits are particularly important for students studying for final exams.
That’s why Samuel Merritt University (SMU) held a “Day of Mindfulness” that combined education on stress-reduction strategies with activities such as chair massage and guided yoga sessions. Healthy snacks and samples of bath salts and essential oils were distributed, and participants were invited to post positive affirmations on a “gratitude tree” and pet a therapy dog.
SMU Academic Support Coordinator Katherine LeRoy, who organized the event with community health nursing instructor Kathryn Kim, says health science students benefit from learning mindfulness techniques both to support themselves as students and caregivers but also to impart them to their future patients.
The event in the Health Education Center highlighted these seven proven methods for reducing stress, elevating mood, and improving overall well-being.
Create bedtime rituals:
We all know that consistent sleep improves memory, helps relieve anxiety, and boosts immune health. But how do we get it? Creating rituals by going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day helps. So does avoiding large meals, alcohol and nicotine before bedtime. And unplug: no electronics in the bedroom.
Adding a drop or two of essential oils like lavender or chamomile to your moisturizing cream or to a hot bath in combination with Epsom salt helps to reduce stress, elevate mood and improve sleep. Also try soaking in a bath with tea bags of oatmeal to soften the skin and peppermint leaves to achieve a calming effect.
Anyone who has had a great massage knows it’s relaxing, but a back rub also releases endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers – while also improving energy and concentration. It also counteracts all that sitting we do while working and studying.
An age-old technique for reducing anxiety and increasing self-awareness, taking time out for meditation also benefits cardiovascular and immune health.
In addition to building strength and flexibility, yoga also sharpens concentration through its focus on being more fully in the present moment.
A daily practice of writing down three to five things we are grateful for actually helps us to feel happier by reversing negative thinking. Also, choosing short positive affirmations that can be repeated throughout the day can generate creativity and strengthen self-esteem.
Pet a dog:
Interacting with animals, particularly therapy dogs, has been proven to lower blood pressure and lift people’s spirits. That’s why tail-wagging canines are increasingly seen in hospitals where they calm patients and motivate healing.