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How To Use Mindfulness to Improve Your Study Habits

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Mindfulness is helpful for studying because the practice keeps you in the present. Your mind pays attention to the world as it is instead of what it was or could be.

When you start studying for a quiz or exam, it is not unusual for college students to multitask. Everyone does it to some extent. You have emails to check, social media notifications to review, and a roommate who wants to talk about the upcoming party in the quad.

Those distractions rob your brain of its information retaining potential.

When you implement these mindfulness techniques, you’ll discover that they can improve your studying habits dramatically.

Best Ways to Implement Mindfulness When Studying

Although mindfulness habits work better when you are alone, that option isn’t always available in college. You’ll find that the following actions are implementable anywhere, at any time, to help you get ready for class.

What Is Mindful Studying?

Instead of diving right into the subject material, try spending a couple of minutes analyzing your current physical environment.

  • How does it feel to sit in your chair or on the bed?
  • What are the sounds you can hear?
  • How is my body feeling right now as I take deep breaths?

Once you start studying, set a timer for 25 minutes. If you encounter a distraction, take a mental note of how much time passed.[1] After you acknowledge that information, take a few deep breaths before returning to your studies. If you feel impatient or frustrated, accept these emotional reactions, and go back to what you were doing. It sometimes takes a few repetitions, but you’ll eventually notice fewer distractions during each 25-minute session.

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The Benefits of a Body Scan

How many times have you started studying to discover that some ache or pain wants more attention? Some discomforts, such as a toothache, are almost impossible to ignore. If you can treat your physical symptoms before studying, the results can improve. You can also use a mindfulness body scan to check-in with yourself.[2] Pause whatever you are doing when you feel uncomfortable. After taking a few deep breaths, notice how some areas feel tense while others are relaxed.  Try not to dwell on the feelings you don’t like during your body scan. The goal isn’t to change what is happening, but to observe how you are to accept your circumstances and move on with your work. 

A body scan is one type of Guided Meditation.  If you want to learn more about Guided Mediations, check out this article by elevate calm.  7 Types of Guided Meditation by elevate calm

Understand Your Emotional Reactions

How does your body react when specific people share an environment with you? When you enjoy the company of others, you’ll feel more relaxed and at ease. If you don’t like being around some individuals, you’ll get more nervous and tense.[3]

Our emotional reactions are sometimes unpredictable. When you notice how your body feels with each person, it’s easier to avoid the instant responses that can take you away from your focus on studying. Some people trigger emotional reactions because they remind us of past memories, both good and bad. You might feel an attraction to someone that initiates a distracting moment. When you engage in mindfulness techniques, you can acknowledge these reactions, file them for future study, and return to where you want to be.[4]

Shut Everything Down

Multitasking is a recipe that leads to information retention problems. For most people, their minds are built to work on individual specific tasks. Each time you switch between different activities, you can lose up to 15 minutes of productive studying. That deficit adds up quickly if you swap between email, social media, and your textbooks regularly.  Although your mind wants to look in other directions when studying, this reaction is often due to boredom. How can you make the information retention process more enjoyable?

If you feel distracted, take the time to try mindful breathing. The 4-7-8 approach is quite useful for calming the racing mind.

  • Breathe in deeply while counting to four, using a slow count for this process.
  • Hold your breath as you count to seven.
  • As you exhale the deep breath, continue pushing the air out until you reach the count of eight.[5]

After 3-5 cycles of this breathing exercise, you’ll start to feel more focused. You might notice different physical sensations during this process, but you don’t need to change anything. Just take notes about how you feel before transitioning back to your studies.

How Do You Incorporate Mindfulness into Your Studies?

Incorporating mindfulness into your studies in college is an individualized process. Everyone faces different environmental and biological challenges that can disrupt how you learn.  When you adopt one of these mindfulness methodologies, it might be easier to return to your baseline.  Although it might take a couple of minds to calm down, you’ll save more time with these efforts than you would with multitasking. That means it won’t take as long to get through your reviews!

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