The Magic of Mindfulness

If there was a quick and simple secret that could improve your sleep or lower your anxiety about an upcoming test, what would you do for it? If your answer is a lot, keep reading to learn more about easy, simple, and FREE ways we’ve found to help.
Mindfulness, as defined by University Health Services Stress Management Counselor Rob Sepich, is “the balanced acceptance of current reality.” In other words, you can you think about it as “being where your feet are.”
In a modern world where distractions and stressors are often constant, staying grounded, happy, and relaxed can be easier said than done. Luckily for you, we’ve looked into mindfulness as a potential solution to the common and related problems of stress and anxiety.
What makes this mindfulness thing so magical, you ask? Sepich says that the power of mindfulness comes not from sorcery but from being “a starting point in acknowledging things for what they are. This then gives you some power to do something about them.”
Abstract as mindfulness may be, achieving it can be as easy as slowing down and taking one thing at a time. Eating, showering, and walking are all activities Sepich recommends to start being more mindful.
“We almost never do these things with single-focused attention. You’re eating while watching Netflix, walking while listening to music, and showering while thinking about what you have to do that day. Then you shift gears and have no idea where you were or where your mind was. Just tuning in to eating one piece of a fruit a day without multitasking, or making one leg of a campus journey distraction-free, can leave you feeling more grounded, focused, and peaceful.”

“These things require a minimal investment of time and can make a real difference in overall wellbeing.”

We know #activebadgers are a busy bunch, so we picked these strategies because they’re realistic even when time is of the essence. Sepich says that “these things might only take 5 or 10 minutes a day, but when you incorporate them, you get through the semesters a lot easier, sleep more readily, and life becomes a little bit more doable.”
On top of these brief moments of focus and awareness, Sepich, a Group Fitness regular, highly recommends exercise as a tool for improving wellbeing.
“Everyone knows exercise contributes to general health, but the psychological benefits of different workouts can vary for people. I’ve personally found that Group Fitness classes are a great option because I feed off the energy of other participants and forget about the aches and pains I might be feeling. Being a part of something bigger, not just working out for myself, gives me a collective joy which benefits me physically and psychologically.”
Mindfulness and exercise (like Group Fitness!) can be great methods for improving mental health. Please remember that if you or someone you know is struggling, more than a good workout or peaceful moment may be needed. UHS provides confidential mental health services, including a 24-hour on-call crisis counselor if you or a friend are in need.
For those interested in more structured or guided mindfulness and relaxation techniques, click here for a number of audio and written exercises from UHS.