Story by Kaleah Wooten / Contributing Writer
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly left many college students far from relaxed.
In order to follow social distancing rules that aim to flatten the COVID-19 curve, several coronavirus ramifications have ensued: commencement cancellations, Zoom fatigue, a dim job market, lack of campus community, inability to connect with loved ones, and unstable housing financial crises.
As a result, college students’ mental health have been severely impacted.
According to The University of Michigan, 60% of college students said the pandemic made it harder to access mental health care. Additionally, college students are more prone to experiencing feelings of loneliness and higher rates of anxiety and depression compared to the general population.
Removing them from their support systems and canceling extracurricular events has led to a sharp increase in feelings of uncertainty and dread among college students.
Evidently, starting the new spring semester amidst a global pandemic has been a huge stressor for students. In light of this, Middle Tennessee State University’s Counseling Services is currently offering workshops that help students prioritize mental and emotional health.
One of these services is guided mindful meditation practice: guided meditation allows us to slow down for a moment in our busy lives and get in touch with what’s going physically, mentally and emotionally.
Traditionally, guided meditation is done with eyes closed and deeply focuses on paying attention to your breathing, thoughts and sensations in your body. While this is the way most people view meditation, mindfulness can also be practiced while living and moving throughout our everyday lives.
I recently attended one of MTSU’s Guided Mindful Meditation practice sessions that is held twice a week, facilitated by Licensed Professional Counselor-Mental Health Service Provider, Jessica Gann.
In the session we practiced a “body scan.” The body scan element of mindfulness is about being aware of every part of your mind and body, and accepting any thoughts and feelings without judgement.
While participating in the body scan, I physically felt more at ease, and calmly recognized any worries or anxieties going through my mind.
After we finished the session, myself and the other participants reflected on our experience. A common thread was the realization of tension in specific parts of the body, especially the hands and face. With a smile, Gann informed us that these feelings were normal and enlightened us to the fact that we unknowingly carry strain and stress in certain parts of our body everyday.
Gann started offering guided meditation at MTSU in Spring 2020, around the time that the pandemic really started to affect Murfreesboro.
She shared that mindfulness and meditation practice can help college students better manage stress, regulate emotion, as well as increase focus and concentration.
When asked about her experience with leading guided meditation at MTSU, Gann expressed:
Despite the pressure of the past few semesters, mindfulness allows for hope and gratitude in a demanding world.
MTSU’s Guided Mindful Meditation practice is held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:30 a.m. through Zoom and is free for all MTSU students.
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