A Guide to Mindfulness

By Gretchen Drews, Staff

Have you been feeling stressed lately? Has homework or friendships been just too much for you recently? Do you need something to just escape from life for a couple seconds? Practicing mindfulness every day is your solution. Millions of Americans practice this form of meditation and it has lots of benefits. According to the University of California, Santa Barbra mindfulness by definition is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. 

According to the International Journal of Coaching Science, practicing mindfulness can help reduce stress, improve their well being, and their overall physical health. Mindfulness can also be beneficial for people who deal with pain, anxiety, and depression, however mindfulness is for everyone.  

A lot of people who want to practice mindfulness, often don’t know where to start or they have some sort of misconception about how it should be practiced. The truth is, there is no correct way to practice mindfulness. Many students love to journal, listen to music, go running, and many other things. Whatever the person does for mindfulness, shouldn’t be overestimating. One example of an overstimulating activity would be going on your phone. If one does something that hyper stimulates them in the name of mindfulness, it can end up getting them even more stressed or frustrated.  

Spend even 20 or 30 minutes when you get home from school doing an activity that isn’t hyperstimulation or where you have to be fast-paced where you can just slow your body down,” Counselor Ellen Shertzer said.  

 

Although students want to practice mindfulness, they often make excuses. Student life includes many responsibilities with sports, academics, clubs, and other extracurricular actives. When a student is busy, they often get caught up in life. If someone is too busy, it is best to plan to set aside a chunk of time to practice. Prioritizing and making time for yourself is the best way to build mental wellness 

“You definitely need to prioritize, plan ahead, and sometimes you just have to tell somebody no you’re too busy,” Counselor Greg Kirkham said.  

In a students’ life, there are many stressors that they face at home and at schoolOne thing all students understand, however, is the stress that comes along with tests. Everyone knows the anxiety that comes when you have to study for hours all weekend to make sure you know the material for your test on Monday or make sure you do the homework correctly because it’s going to be taken for a grade or when you have a speech due tomorrow that you cannot stop thinking aboutThese situations can make one pretty anxious, however, Shertzer has a solution. It may seem silly at first but tightening and loosening your muscles in your hands can actually help immensely and no one needs to know that you’re even doing it! Shertzer explains how the exercise when done just a couple times before a stressful situation, can help you physically and mentally relax.  

“There’s some strategies where if you grip onto your chair and tighten your muscles and then let your body relax. If you do that just three times before a standardized test the impact of just that physical release has on you, then it can help you with that anxiety” Shertzer said.  

If you are feeling stressed and are in need of mindfulness, it’s important to know that Zionsville Community High School as a whole has made strides. The Mentor Access Period, also known as MAP, is a new period added onto the Wednesday block period. This block period allows students to relax, study, sleep, see other teachers, or get extra help. MAP can be used in multiple ways and that’s the glory of MAP—letting the student utilize their time however they need to.  

Another addition made to the school is that there are now mindfulness rooms located throughout the counseling offices. Students are given access to coloring supplies, fidget toys, games, and other activities that can help a student destress. If you ever need to just escape class for 15 minutes to ground yourself in the mindfulness room, it makes all the difference. Teachers and staff are now better trained to help and recognize when a student is in need of their counselor. They are also there to make students feel more comfortable when they are in need of these resources.  

“Well they’re certainly doing more than they did 5 years ago. We now have mindfulness rooms, we have M.A.P., and teachers are now trained in helping students or at least allowing students to go see their counselors. I think by talking about it we’re at least allowing kids to have the opportunity if they need it, Kirkham said.