From 15th - 21st May is Mental Health Awareness Week 2023.
Each year the Mental Health Foundation sets a theme, with this year's focusing on 'anxiety'. Lots of things can lead to feelings of anxiety, particularly in students, including exam pressures, coursework deadlines or thinking about life after university.
As the May exam season is in full swing, we thought now would be a fitting time to share some mindful activities you can try to help relieve feelings of anxiety and aid relaxation.
Check out #ResidentContentCreator Zuzanna's mindful activities to help you during the exam period below!
Mindfulness is all about being present and engaging in the moment. It's a type of meditation that we can all implement into our lives to help make us feel less stressed and anxious. It's so easy to get caught up in our thoughts, worries and lose focus; mindfulness can help bring you back to a calm, relaxed and present state of mind.
Keep reading to learn how to implement mindfulness into your life through short daily activities which can help relieve any stress and anxiety you might be experiencing this exam season.
A Mindful Walk 🚶
Walking outside is relaxing, but being mindful and present during your walk is even better. A great way of doing this is to try to notice the following:
- 3 things you can see (at least one in the distance).
- 3 things you can hear.
- 3 things you can smell.
- 3 things you can feel.
As an added challenge, if you take the same route regularly, try to notice at least one thing you have never seen before.
Meditation Break 🧘
When people hear the word meditation, they often tend to think of sitting in silence for hours, but it is far from that.
A few minutes during the day when you allow yourself to close your eyes, let go of all your thoughts and worries and just breathe can do wonders for your stress and anxiety levels.
Remember, meditation isn’t about not allowing yourself to have any thoughts; it’s about acknowledging your thoughts and letting go of them.
Visualisation Meditation 👁️
Meditation comes in a lot of different forms, and this one is great for anyone who tends to worry a lot. Close your eyes and visualise how you want your day to go; picture things going well and let that positive energy lead your day. Take this time to set your intentions for the day - it's best to do this exercise first thing in the morning.
Be wary; you don’t want to visualise unrealistic things such as winning the lottery or scoring 100% on your exam. Instead, picture yourself in the exam hall calmly or focusing hard on revision.
4-7-8 Breathing Technique 😌
Your breath is the one thing you always have with you and can always control. Working on your breathing technique can be a great help for anxiety relief.
If you're new to breathing methods, a great place to start is the 4-7-8 technique, which has been linked to decreasing feelings of anxiety, improving sleep quality, and helping to control emotional responses like anger.
Start by breathing in for 4 seconds, then hold your breath for 7 seconds, and finally breathe out for 8 seconds. Only do it for four cycles in a row if you're a beginner, and after you get used to it, you can work up to eight cycles.
What's great about the 4-7-8 technique is that you can do it anywhere at any time, so it's easy to fit in around your lifestyle.
Flow State 🧠
You’ve probably experienced being so focused on doing something that you forgot about the outside world, and time just flies- that is exactly what the flow state is, a mental state in which you're entirely focused on a single task or activity.
Although being in the flow state can make your day go faster, it also has other benefits, including - a positive impact on your life, health, productivity, and well-being.
There’s no one way of achieving the flow state, as not everyone is triggered the same way. However, physical activities such as running, dancing (or anything you love doing that requires focus) are a great place to start.
Being mentally elsewhere or stressed is tough when you feel grateful for something. So, in times of anxiety, try to think of three things in your life/that day that you can be grateful for. Again, this can be done anywhere and anytime, so it's super easy and accessible to everyone.
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Check out #ResidentContentCreator Zuzanna's easy mindful activities to help you during the exam period!