College is a period in your life overcharged with both positive and negative emotions, making it difficult to keep your head straight and your feet on the ground.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some simple routines you could implement to help you keep your mind clear during college? You know, something like brushing your teeth, but for your mental health? Well, lucky for you, routines like that do exist. Let’s take a look at them.
1 - Meditate.
“I can’t meditate! It just doesn’t work for me!” is the most common protest made whenever meditation is mentioned in conversations. However, that protest misses the point. Meditation isn’t supposed to be easy at first. In fact, the initial difficulty ties into the reason why meditating is so beneficial long term.
Meditation is a non-religions practice where the goal is to silence your mind for a given period of time. That’s all it is. You don’t need to sit, cross your legs, light an incense, or listen to any mantras. Meditative exercises where you stand, walk, or run all exist. As long as you are silencing your mind on purpose, you are meditating.
Silencing your mind is a skill, one you have to build, which is why it can be so hard at first. It’s like learning a new instrument or trying to move a muscle you’ve never commanded before. It’s going to feel weird and alien at first, impossible even.
The trick is not to expect instant success. Instead, plan to take at least a month to learn how to silence your mind and practice daily with your preferred meditation method. Once you pass the initial learning curve, you can then aim at meditating for longer periods. That will allow you to strengthen that new muscle; that ability to press the “mute” button in your mind.
Meditating daily can bring heaps of benefits. But having that ability to silence your mind at will is also a wonderful thing. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just silence your thoughts and relax for a few minutes right before you start an important test or presentation?
2 - Writing exercises.
Getting through college is a complicated endeavor, one filled with complex challenges that will force you to balance many priorities at once. Writing can help you apply some order to that chaos.
Writing makes the human brain organize its ideas — which are often a mushy blob of unformed connections and conflicting priorities — into a linear and coherent text. That, in turn, will help break complex problems into manageable tasks.
One of Freud’s greatest realizations as a clinical practitioner is that if you let people speak freely about their problems they will often solve said problems themselves. Writing can have the same effect, with the benefit of being something you can do without fear of judgment (or paying an hourly rate).
If you want some inspiration to start writing, this list by Anivda.com has some interesting writing exercises in it, from daily journaling to fill the blank activities.
3 - Exercise with a goal.
Do you know what can make exercising even better for your mental health? Having a clear goal and building towards it.
Our internal pleasure systems are wired towards goal seeking. Once we establish a goal — even an arbitrary one — we feel better as we approach that goal and feel worse when we fail to achieve it or run into obstacles. This human proclivity is the whole reason why sports get to exist despite there being no logical reason why a ball going through a hoop should make anyone happy.
This connection between goal and pleasure means that having a clear but achievable goal during your workouts is a great way to help you maintain your emotional balance, even when college life gets tough.
Your workout objective can be something small, such as breaking your push-ups record in the next three weeks; or something major, such as training your way towards completing your first marathon.
A goal-oriented exercise routine can assure that you will always have positive things happening in your life regardless of how tense or stressful things are in your college life.