On Thursday, May 7, 2020, Kirkwood’s counselors Angie Ziesman Weiler and Mary Gesing held a Zoom meeting where students received advice for not only dealing with the stress of finals, but the stress we’ll have in the future. I believe they did an excellent job presenting ways of reducing stress. They discussed mindfulness, mastery, movement, and meaningful connections.
Mindfulness is to live in the moment instead of focusing on the past or worrying about the future. When was the last time you enjoyed a meal and focused on the mix of favors instead of mindlessly eating one chip after another? A good way to practice mindfulness is to take some deep breathes for a minute. If it’s difficult to focus, there are free apps such as Smiling Mind, UCLA Mindful, 10% Happier, and Insight Timer.
Mastery gives us a sense of control and accomplishment. It’s to realize the improvement you’re making for a skill you’re working on or developing a new skill such as cooking or playing an instrument. It’s also looking back at a difficult part of life. It can be physical such as overcoming a leg injury or emotional such as mental health.
Movement is to keep moving. With online classes, we’re mostly sitting at our desk or table typing, writing, or reading for our classes, or sitting through Zoom classes. You don’t need to have a full body workout, but simply keep moving by cleaning, walking, gardening, making or fixing something, or walking up and down the stairs. Dancing and crafting are also good examples of ways to keep your body moving.
Meaningful connection is focused on connections with other humans. Although we’re limited for the time being, we still have many options such as texting or calling friends and family members, sending flowers to someone we care about, and even talking through Zoom and Discord. What is important for meaningful connection is that it’s meaningful and that you find what works for you. You don’t have to talk to a bunch of people in one day or in a group, but what’s important is you give time, and show you’re interested in the interaction. Be present and listen, and know that you’re being listened to as well.
During this time with finals and social distancing, we need a moment to breath and not worry about what the future has in store. Although it feels like we don’t have time and we’re trying to cram in as much as we can, it’s important to pause for a moment to take a few deep breaths, stand up and stretch, and ask a friend, family, or even classmate about how they’re doing.