By Tiyani Rikhotso
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 4 of VARSITY News.
As exams loom around the corner, stress and anxiety might be creeping up on you. It has been a long and demanding semester which only brings more pressure as it nears its end. Instead of crumbling under pressure, pushing yourself past your limits or reaching for harmful coping mechanisms; meditation is a great way to cope with stress as well as calm your body and mind.
How often should I #meditate? Studies have shown that daily mediation can provide you with great benefits: better sleep, less anxiety, & better focus. Grounded can give you the framework to meditate at home – or anywhere- when it’s not feasible to get to class. pic.twitter.com/LhGwHR2wWl
— Grounded Meditation (@GroundedMedita1) May 27, 2019
Meditation isn’t just for self-actualization nor is it a hipster trend, rather it is a powerful and effective tool to calm overwhelming and negative thoughts as well as to alleviate stress. In recent years, meditation has become the centre of scientific and social research in order to understand its psychological, physical and neurological benefits. Time and time again, the studies report positive effects on stress reduction, anxiety, depression, pain, and in attaining peace.
For beginners or those who are pressed for time, a consistent practice of 5 – 10 minutes of meditation (preferably in the morning) can do wonders for anxious thoughts and stress. YouTube and mindfulness apps such as Headspace boast many guided meditations. Simply find a still posture in a quiet space and follow the guide, or lead yourself by breathing deeply, engaging calming visualisations. You can also meditate using your religious scripture.
For some, the idea of sitting still without stimulation is overwhelming or simply isn’t their cup of tea. If this is you, find a daily task such as washing dishes and make that into your own meditative practice. You could also take up a simple hobby that occupies your hands more than your mind and use that to centre yourself and calm your thoughts. If you’ve got some money on hand, you could buy a colouring book or a simple drawing kit which is great for alleviating stress.
SMILE UCT is a great society to join if you are interested in mindful tools as they promote empowerment through leadership, yoga and meditation. Non-members are invited to the lunchtime meditations they host (every day from 1pm to 1.20pm at the Computer Science Buliding 220) which is a great resource to explore if you are struggling to get the hang of things or if you would prefer to explore meditating in the quiet company of others.