As UNC students, and growing adults, we are beginning to find our voice and our place in society. In doing so, we must find balance. Whether it’s balancing home and work life, math homework, studying for that psychology exam, or trying to manage a relationship with your significant other as well as your friendships, balance is something we are all all striving for. Personally, I’ve been struggling with balancing my empathy and compassion for others with self-care. I tend to get caught up in the drama: What’s the tea? What’s going on with that professor? Did she really say that? Is that girl in my class okay? There are so many looming clouds that follow us around and won’t let us simply exist. So how do we let these things go?

I promise, you’re over thinking it.

In the past few weeks, I have been setting aside time for myself—10 minutes even—right when I wake up or go to bed. I take a few minutes to thank the Universe for my body, for my breath, and for my soul. I take these minutes to appreciate the things we take for granted.

As far as the looming clouds go? Like I said, it’s simple: ask them to go away. If something is bothering you and you don’t want to deal with it right now, tell it to go away. Say out loud, “leave me alone,” or “just let me be for a second.” Yes, it is that simple. Sometimes there is no point in worrying about the negative stuff, and it’s good to recognize that. We must learn to know what is beneficial and what is detrimental to stress about, and then replace that negative thought with a positive one. It’s called self-care or being mindful. I promise--this will be incredibly beneficial to your mental health and well-being. Existing is a treat, so treat yourself to some positive thoughts and good vibes. It's important for students to practice self-care, and that means taking time to appreciate you and being mindful of your surroundings.

Mindfulness at UNC

What is mindfulness? There are many different ideas, and perhaps misconceptions about what being mindful truly means. The truth is  that everyone experiences mindfullness differently; however, there are some universal aspects that are key to finding succeess. If you are interested in learning more about the art of being mindful, UNC has some great resources to check out.

Professor Mike Kimball is an anthropology professor at the University of Northern Colorado, and has a lot of knowledge and practice in mindfulness–the practice that gives individuals different techniques to teach yourself to notice how the mind and body are reacting to a threat without reacting right away. I highly recommend checking out his interviews on the Bear-In-Mind Podcast Series: Bear In Mindfulness Part I and Bear In Mindfulness Part II.  Or check out his book Ethnowise: A text on shock, mindfulness, and culture.  Another great way to give yourself care is a trip to the UNC Campus Recreation Center for a yoga class or a walk around the track if the weather outside is not cooperating.