Beat stress: Be present

By Kaylee Moran - Commentary



With busy schedules, managing time between school, work, and extracurriculars can be difficult. 

It's common in our society to be on-the-go constantly. We're so busy that we rarely have time to relax. 

However, this can raise stress levels unnecessarily and impair your mental, emotional and physical health. 

When life seems to be getting overwhelming, and if taking things off your plate doesn't seem feasible, slowing down and being present is a sure way to find some peace. 

When we are in the go-go-go mindset, we are rarely present. Our attention is drawn to the future, predicting/planning our next moves, or to the past, worrying or replaying scenarios in our head. 

The present moment is all we ever truly have, the past and future are merely illusions, so let's soak up every bit of the now that we can. 

When fully present, the constant dialogue in your mind starts to slow down, you become aware of your surroundings, feelings in your body, and are better equipped to handle anything life may throw at you. 

A good way to bring yourself back to the present moment is with deep breathing and meditation. Next time you realize your mind drifting or wandering off, take a big inhale, expanding your belly out as far as it can comfortably go and drawing it back in with your exhale. 

Doing this a few times will bring your awareness to your breath, body, and the present moment. This is a common yoga and meditation practice as it can reduce stress, anxiety and help you feel more at peace, relaxed and grounded. 

When you feel calm and present, you will notice that you are more engaged in whatever situation is at hand. 

Another issue with not being present is we feel as if contentment only comes when some future moment happens, when, supposedly, all of our worries will disappear and we can finally be happy. For example, "I'll be happy once I finish my degree, get a good career and am financially stable." 

This type of thinking is what actually prevents happiness, because if and when that moment arrives, you will be looking toward the next best thing or left feeling disappointed, never having been content or satisfied with what you already had in all moments leading up to it. 

Life passes us by if we are always focused on the future or past. When we are present, we can be grateful for all the good things in our life, no matter how big or small, instead of thinking that something or someone will bring it to us. 

If life is really challenging and it's hard to think of what to be happy about right now, just be grateful to be alive, for fresh air, nature, animals, to be on a college campus, etc. You will start to feel an elevated difference in your mood. 

A common habit most people on campus share is constantly looking at their phones as a way to pass time. This is a huge distraction from the present moment. 

If we leave our phones in our pockets during those times in passing, waiting, etc., you will have freed up space for new, more fulfilling experiences. Perhaps you may start a conversation and make a connection with someone you normally wouldn't have, if you'd been scrolling your social media feeds. 

Whatever the case may be, try to slow down and start becoming more aware and present in your daily activities. It can be a challenging process that requires patience. However, the benefits of peace and happiness are definitely worth the effort.

-Kaylee Moran, an aspiring Yogi, is the advertising manager and librarian for the Thunderword.

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