The importance of mindfulness in a busy medical student’s life

— 8 min read

Mindfulness is somewhat of a buzz word these days. Mindfulness means to notice your own thoughts without getting overwhelmed by them and is often associated with slowing down. Of course, it can be beneficial to take time out of your busy schedule, but the great thing about mindfulness is that practising it regularly usually helps you to be more productive.

Mindfulness boosts well-being

Negative thinking often gets in the way of studying. It drains your energy and causes you to feel stressed. But mindfulness can keep you from being sucked into this downward spiral. It helps to recognise that your thoughts are just your thoughts and not reality. You’re then able to let go of negative emotions more easily and get on with the day.

Bringing mindfulness to your studies

When sitting down to study, it can be easy to get distracted, especially when your phone is constantly buzzing with messages and social media alerts. Even if you’re a pro at multitasking, responding to messages, updating your Facebook and posting pictures on Instagram while revising for an exam, is going to mean your attention is divided. Research shows it’s just impossible to focus fully on more than one task at a time. Engaging in several activities at once prevents you from being able to think critically and you end up taking longer to get things done.

To make it easier to focus, it’s a good idea to put your phone in “Don’t disturb” mode or switch it off altogether. It can also be a good idea to allocate a study area where you’re least likely to be distracted, such as a desk at home, a café or the library. Another thing, try to organise your study sessions for the time in the day when your mind is at its best.

Breathing exercises

Before beginning your studies, it’s good to take a moment to focus entirely on your breathing. This helps to re-energise your mind and relax your body. One easy breathing exercise involves inhaling through your nose for two seconds, holding for one second, exhaling through your mouth for four seconds and holding for one second. Of course, you can vary the lengths of your breaths to whatever feels comfortable for you, but it’s helpful to exhale longer than you inhale, as this has a calming effect on your body.

When you’re doing the breathing exercise, make sure you’re sitting comfortably. You don’t need to close your eyes but doing this might help you concentrate better. If you’re not into controlled breathing but still want to give mindfulness a go, you can simply breathe normally while observing the movement of your chest as the air goes in and out and be aware of the sensation in your nostrils as you inhale. It’s okay if you find your mind wanders; it happens. Just let go of the thought and gently direct your mind back to your breathing.

Counting your breaths is another simple way you can focus your mind before or during a study session. When you’ve reached the fifth exhalation, repeat the cycle. Counting more than five breaths in a row might cause your mind to stray, thereby defeating the purpose.

Take a break in nature

A lot of people find that spending time in nature helps to boost mindful awareness and lowers their stress levels. You could try having a coffee in the garden or going for a walk in a nearby park. Wherever you are, get off your phone and pay attention to what you can see, smell, hear and feel.

If you’re looking for ways to study more efficiently, mindfulness could be worth trying. It will help you to focus, you will probably find it easier to absorb information. It’ll also help to free you from negativity, giving you more energy to reach for your goals.

 

Also Read – How to avoid burnout | managing life flow