This week I wanted to delve into an entirely new facet of my life at Dartmouth that I have recently started to care way more about; Mindfulness. The word had always appeared on the emails I got as a freshman inviting me to free self-care nights, yoga classes, or group workshops. I had never really considered how important mindfulness could be, or what exactly it meant to manage or practice it until this spring term. There was no event or real catalyst, but the changes that I have seen have been super drastic and speak to the importance of self-care and mindfulness at any college.
It's no secret that, in addition to being a wonderful place, Dartmouth can also be very stressful for me at times. For the first time in my life, when I came to Dartmouth I was solely responsible for almost everything. I chose when and what to eat, when to sleep, how to exercise (if at all) and how to spend my free time. These decisions can be super difficult, and the way I describe mindfulness or actions of self-care is choosing consciously to do anything that relieves the stress or pressure from your normal activities or routine. Don't get me wrong, you can and should make self-care a regular part of your routine, but it should be something that is intentional and thought-out, something that makes you feel good and calm.
For me, it started out with water. It's kind of a crazy thought to think of how simple it might be to just drink water, but I realized that a lot of the time my Nalgene would sit in my backpack empty, and I would wake up every morning parched. I downloaded an app that allowed me to track how much water I was drinking and update me when I needed to drink more, when I was dehydrated or behind schedule, and congratulated and rewarded me for being fully hydrated and on time. This seems like a really small thing, but in college, I no longer have my mom reminding me to drink water at dinner or checking up on me, so something this simple can have a big effect.
I also decided to join a weekly "anti-stress" yoga class, offered totally free by the Student Wellness Center. The class allows me to slow down and be in the moment and intentional, it helps me feel calm, relaxed, and present. The Wellness Center actually offers a lot of cool no-cost programs and runs workshops for students on any number of issues. This class just happened to work with my class and activity schedule and is now one of the favorite parts of my week. It can be difficult to be actively mindful and do things for yourself, but at a place like Dartmouth where all 24 hours of every day are yours to plan, I find it helps me immensely. Whether it be taking a walk around Occum, going to the Hood to look at some art, or joining the Student Wellness Center yoga class, I hope you find ways to stay mindful and develop healthy habits here at Dartmouth.