Column: Practicing mindfulness can improve student’s lives drastically

Students would enjoy their lives so much more if they noticed the small things around them.

Rachel Schnelle is freshman journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about student life for The Maneater.

As students, we become accustomed to a certain routine everyday. We wake up, get dressed and head out the door with our noses in our phones as we trudge to our first class. While this is perfectly fine, this can cause students to miss life changes happening around them. This unfortunately can lead students to ignore this mental state of mind. While going to and passing classes is important, it’s also important to take care of yourself.

It is also important to practice mindfulness, which is the ability to be fully present and aware of what we are doing. When mindfulness is practiced, you become in-tune with your thoughts and emotions. Practicing this can have lasting effects such as a focused mind, lower stress and the ability to connect better. This in turn can lead to less burnout and disinterest.

These past few months have gone by so slowly and so quickly at the same time. I feel like I have overcome a large obstacle now that the first few months of college are done. Looking back on my freshman year thus far, I’ve realized how much I’ve grown. However, during those first few months it didn’t seem like that.

During those early days, I spent many nights huddled up in my room missing home. I wanted to go out and be social, but the thought of acting like I wasn’t hurting seemed worse than actually doing something. As soon as my last class ended, I ran back to my dorm and hopped into my bed. I did what was expected of me and nothing more. Stressing about my grades and wondering if I’ll pass my classes overwhelmed me daily.

While doing this, I started to miss the little things happening around me. One day as I was walking to class I looked up and the leaves were a different color. Students that passed by me began to look even more tired and stressed than the day before. The weather got colder. I checked Facebook one day and I felt like I was out of touch with everything. My nose was stuck in things that were not as important as checking up with my family. I was becoming the college student that always irritated me when I was in high school.

I had such an extreme case of tunnel vision that I started to feel stuck. I wanted to feel normal again.

Unfortunately, many students can relate to what I’m feeling even if they don’t realize it. The new environment, a new sense of responsibility and the stress of getting into their career field can leave them feeling lost and overwhelmed. Speaking from personal experience, many students do homework too often. This can cause them to become uninterested in college and this can sometimes snowball into the early signs of depression. While some students recognize the symptoms and get help, many students don’t realize what’s happening. It’s unfortunate that students can show signs of depression, and even more so when they leave it untreated. In fact, studies show that 67.3 percent of college students feel intense sadness, while 86.5 percent feel overwhelmed.

The first semester of college is an uncomfortable experience for just about everyone. It can become easy to become robots and do what we think we’re supposed to do. Meaning that we go to class, try to pass those classes and then we let that become our first priority.

Although passing classes is important so is your mental health. Focusing on only one aspect of your life can cause the other to fall. I know that students tend to get narrow focus when it comes to school. They focus on working harder so they can play harder. While we are all at this university to pursue higher education, there is a difference between working hard and overworking yourself. I encourage every student at MU to become mindful of their surroundings and to take advantage of the resources that promote mindfulness, such as the Wellness center. Instead of trudging to class with their noses in their phones, students should look up. They should notice the changes and process of life that is happening around them. While passing your classes is important, what’s even more important is taking care of yourself.

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