Take time to breathe

By Kit Murray
murrayki@mnstate.edu

“Next time you should come home when you can’t stay so long!” My father is known for his sarcastic humor. He’s implying that I rarely have the time to visit him, which is true.
This problem is common among college students. We become accustomed to living far from home; our lives revolve around work, studying, relationships, and most importantly, ourselves. Time off is hard to come by.
But how does constantly being busy truly affect us? Growing up, I was taught to focus on others and give back, to love others as you would love yourself.
Love yourself; what does that mean? It’s a life-long challenge to learn how to love the one  person you’re stuck with until the day you die — you.
Even if we don’t have time to go home as often as we’d like, I think each of us needs to learn how to take time for ourselves more often. Although we did just have a lovely fall breather, it’s important to cherish time alone and to focus on our mental health every day. I’m slowly starting to realize that one day I’m going to need to accept  the responsibilities of an adult, and my life will only get busier. As a full-time college student, I’ve realized how crucial each minute is, and if I had one wish, it would be to have more hours in a day.
We are constantly moving from one task to the next. Wake up, run to school, go to work, come home, finish studying, go to sleep, and repeat the next day. It’s a vicious cycle — and not a bad one, but one that most of us can easily get sucked in to and drained out by. Some days it can really catch up to us.
One of the most important skills my father has taught me is how to meditate. Closing your eyes, letting go, and focusing on breathing sounds simple enough, but soon our thoughts catch up to us and we have to go back to step one. It’s a challenge; one that requires time and practice, but each of us could use a clear mind, if only for a minute.
Throughout life, I have tried to make a conscious effort to realize when I’ve taken on too much of a workload. I’m trying to learn how to step back, breathe, and tackle each task with a clear head. I’ve asked a few people on campus how they de-stress and the benefits it has had for them.
“I try every morning to set aside at least an hour to do my makeup,” sophomore Emerald Moe-Zinn said. “It helps me clear my head for the day. I’m able to focus solely on waking up by doing something I enjoy.”
Each person has their own way of letting go. It’s important to find what does and does not work in your life.
“A remedy for stress, in my experience, is letting my mind wander into a place of happy thoughts that make me smile,” professor Konrad Czynski said. “It might be a memory-moment from when I was in high school playing with our dog, or a more recent time when my family and I were enjoying ourselves.”
In my life, a common reference I use is counting my breaths. My father always tells me that our minds are like wild animals. We need to learn to chain them down, tame them and keep them under control. Whenever I’m anxious, I try my hardest to remember that what I’m worrying about is nothing in my control. I sit back, count my breaths, and tell my body that I can see what is wrong. I’m trying to attend to the issue and care for it.
Regardless of what may be causing built-up worry, stress or even frustration, taking time to let go is crucial, especially in college. As students, we’re slowly becoming adults, and soon we’ll be thrown into the real world. It’s a useful practice to simply learn how to step back, let go, and properly breathe, which can be useful throughout our entire lifetime.
A few helpful tools I’ve come across may help anyone get started. For example, download the “Headspace” application on a smartphone, try out yoga, or even realize how a hobby like reading helps you relax and let go. The time to relax is when it’s easy to realize there isn’t time to relax.

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