As I’ve entered my fourth and final year studying Fashion Management in RGU, life has become more and more like a balancing act! Meeting deadlines, going to the gym and having a social life can all get very overwhelming.
At the end of the first semester to try and help us stay calm and cope with the stress of everything, we received a very helpful presentation about mindfulness.
I’m sure many of you will have heard mindfulness mentioned before as it has become a very popular practice in recent years from publications such as “Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world” by Mark Williams and Dr Danny Penman, to the colouring books craze started by Scottish illustrator, Johanna Basford. However, there are many misconceptions over what mindfulness really means…
Many of us, including myself, believe mindfulness eliminates stress and involves thinking about nothing. Instead, mindfulness involves organising thoughts and focusing on the moment at present, not on the past or the future.
To try and train your brain into focusing on one thing at a time and stop it from wandering, we ran through a couple of exercises. One concentrated on breathing and how it can be used to focus the mind when it wanders. To complete this short ten-minute meditation exercise, first find a comfortable posture, keeping your spine straight. Once relaxed, notice your breathing and its rhythm. Focus on it. Continue this and let any thoughts come and go as they enter the mind. By repeating exercises like this, we can learn to detach from our stresses for five minutes and bring our thoughts back to the matter at hand.
The presentation certainly emphasised the increasing importance of mindfulness in student life and the working environment. I think when we have so much going on in our lives we often forget to look after ourselves and make time to do the things we love.
Here are my top five self-care tips and things to do:
Colouring In: A favourite pastime for many of us, including myself, the benefits of such a simple exercise have been widely notified. Popular books include those illustrated by Johanna Basford, who stimulated the growth of a new section in book shops. As a Fashion student, I particularly love the Vogue colouring books and “The Liberty Colouring Book” featuring some beautiful patterns.
Reading: There’s nothing quite like escaping into a book and being transported to another world! I’m currently reading the Game of Thrones series which undoubtedly will take years at my snail pace… I wouldn’t say I ever stick to the same genre with fashion obviously a firm favourite. Top recommendations include “Inside Vogue: My Diary Of Vogue’s 100th Year” by Alexandra Shulman and either of Sali Hughes’ beauty bibles.
Get Outdoors: Going out for a quick wander or run can do the world of good when you’ve a never-ending list of things to do. We’re lucky enough to have the River Dee right next to the RGU campus but Aberdeen has many hidden treasures. Old Aberdeen is full of quaint cobbled streets while Duthie Park is a spectacle of nature all year round. I also love Aberdeen Beach or a trip to Stonehaven in the Spring.
Baking: My favourite way to unwind of all has to be baking! I have the worst sweet tooth so can never resist a cupcake… or two… To try and balance everything, I usually bake treats which take a couple of hours, including Red Velvet Cupcakes, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Dreamy Chocolate Brownies.
It’s also ok to feel completely overwhelmed at times but there is help available at RGU. If you would like to speak to someone please get in touch with our Student Counselling & Wellbeing Centre. RGU Union also run RGU Nightline, a student-led peer to peer helpline that offers a non-judgmental, confidential and anonymous listening and support service to students at Robert Gordon University outside of academic hours (operating from 8pm through to 8am).