How to ease stress during exam season

Emily Silver-Campbell, Staff Writer

Tests, quizzes, homework, teachers:  for many people, these factors cause school to be very stressful. Teenagers are particularly stressed, and based on a survey published by the American Psychological Association, are more stressed than adults. Luckily there are ways to wipe away stress and calm the mind. One of the most effective ways to do this is meditation. Meditation means to engage in contemplation or reflection.

Meditation can be done with others, or simply by oneself wherever you are. There are several types of meditation. These include: guided, for example, they are many videos dedicated to guided meditation, mantra, mindfulness, qi gong, tai chi, and yoga. This article will be centered on mindful meditation, but all have the same benefits.

Here are a few basic meditation steps:

Peace and quiet: going to a quiet place with few distractions can help many people, especially beginners, stay focused.

Breathing: during meditation, your breath should be steady and deep, filling expanding your lungs and using your diaphragm. The purpose of this is to slow your breathing, take in more oxygen, and reduce the use of shoulder, neck and upper chest muscles while breathing so that you breathe more efficiently.

Focus: arguably the most important step, anyone can easily clear the mind and calm themselves by focusing on something simple, such as your breathing. By doing this, you can notice when your mind wanders and loses focus, causing you to be more likely to catch this in an event such as an exam.

It is common for your mind to wander during meditation, no matter how long you’ve been practicing meditation. If you’re meditating to calm your mind and your attention wanders, slowly return to the object, sensation or movement you’re focusing on.

Meditation is a good, flexible habit that could greatly help your focus, anxiety, stress, sleep problems, etc. But these benefits will only continue if you make meditation a habit. Set reminders to meditate and make it a priority when you feel stressed or when you have a busy week or know that big test is coming up. Keep in mind that there is no wrong way to meditate and as long as you feel good and relaxed afterward, you’re doing it right.