UMindfulness reminds students to relax during midterms season

Senior Samantha Steefel studies for her biochemistry midterm in the Richter Library Monday, Oct. 22. The library is highly populated during exam periods as is often difficult to find an empty seat during those times. Photo credit: Hunter Crenian

It’s midterms season, and many students face an onslaught of exams, papers, and projects. However, members of the UMindfulness club say they have a solution to the stresses of college life.

Jaclyn Levine, a freshman biology major and member of the UMindfulness club, said practicing mindfulness can help students cope with the spike in stress levels that results from a having to balance extracurriculars, work, personal relationships and midterms.

“We get so caught up in these little human stresses and it’s important to take time to realign yourself before tackling it all,” Levine said.

The UMindfulness club meets Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. in the Gifford Arboretum to participate in mindfulness activities and discuss related topics. While meetings usually begin with a short meditation session, mindfulness is about more than just meditating, said Jabari Brooks, the UMindfulness outreach chair.

“It’s being aware of the situations in your life, in school, with parents and relationships,” said Brooks, a junior neuroscience major.

At UMindfulness’ most recent meeting, Brooks led a mindful seeing activity. He said mindful seeing involves looking at one’s surroundings with awareness instead of judgment. Practicing mindful seeing relates to one of the key components of mindfulness, remaining anchored in the present moment. In being mindful, one should let go of all past regrets and future worries, Brooks said.

“Anxiety gets out of control when you worry about being worried,” Brooks said. “A lot of times we take a backseat to our emotions. Mindfulness allows you to zen in, let things pass and really understand your feelings.”

Scott L. Rogers, a program director for UMindfulness and director of the mindfulness and law program at the University of Miami School of Law, said practicing mindfulness can create positive change outside of just managing stress.

“Personal relationships improve; listening and focus improve,” Rogers said. “It has practical benefits that can be realized, but ultimately all of those move in a direction of feeling more alive, engaged, interested and motivated in the moments of our life because we’re more here for them.”

Rogers said students can incorporate mindfulness into their daily lives in a variety of ways through mindful walking, moving and listening. The key to making an activity mindful is being able to recognize when one becomes distracted, he said.

“It’s about noticing when the mind wanders,” Rogers said. “That’s the magic moment. There are many ways of making mindfulness practice a very practical and pragmatic part of the day.”

Brooks said he hopes students will practice mindfulness this midterms season in order to become more relaxed and productive.

“For tests, there’s no reason to let anxiety get to a certain level,” he said. “It’s just something else that will pass.”