It is that time of year when nerve-wracked students across the country will sit exams that will play some part in defining their future. The stakes may be high, but there is no need to panic. Studies have demonstrated that students who practice mindfulness in the run up to their exams (and even in the exam itself) demonstrate more resilience and improved mental health.
Mindfulness – an active practice of awareness through meditation – helps you to improve concentration, sleep better, remember more information, and stress less when under pressure.
How to practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is a form of meditation. As you practice, you become better and better at it.
Many benefits of mindfulness can be achieved through focussing on your breathing. Focus on your breath, inhaling and exhaling, and focus on how it moves through your body. Breathe in for a count of seven and out for a count of eleven. Longer breaths are calming and help you to visualise and refocus on your immediate surroundings and the moment in which you need to perform.
Whilst you focus on your breathing, become aware of how you are positioned. Are your legs crossed or not? Are your shoulders hunched? Is your tongue relaxed? Becoming aware of how you are holding yourself and then instructing yourself to relax is also a way of re-centring the mind, and helping you to focus on the here and now. This exercise helps you to build up concentration and to sleep better.
Instead of lying in bed at night panicking about tomorrow’s exam, conduct a ‘body scan’. As you breathe, focus on each part of your body bit by bit – your toes, the soles of your feet, your ankle, moving up until finally the head. Take breaths between each visualisation. This practice helps you to calm your internal doubts and soothe you into a comfortable sleep.
If you want to find out more, download our free Enhancing Your Studies with Mindfulness course here.