Mindfulness on summer break is a breeze. Mindfulness during the most stressful part of the year during work isn’t. Having a meditation session for ten minutes while you’re on a beach lounger in Hawaii is pretty straightforward. Finding time to do it during your university exam period isn’t. Here’s the thing though: during times of intense stress, meditation and mindfulness are more important, not less. So, it should absolutely be a priority to be mindful during these periods of your life. Meditation and mindfulness should become a routine, a regular part of your daily life like brushing your teeth or having a shower. I’ve written before about how to make sure that mindfulness does become a part of your daily life.
It isn’t simple at all though, to make sure you’re taking the ten or fifteen minutes to have a break and simple be aware of your body and thoughts and feelings and the environment directly around you. When you’ve got that project your boss has said must be done by tomorrow, and to the highest quality, mindfulness and meditation falls by the wayside, and to many, this seems rational. In truth, because so many studies have shown that mindfulness boosts your productivity and concentration, taking those ten minutes out will improve your performance on the job you’ve been given, as well as decreasing your stress and allowing you to clear your mind without being bogged down by nagging other thoughts.
Consider this: when you’re experiencing a very stressful situation, your mind will whir away to distract you from your stress. When we have a college report due the next day, so many of us will go into 100% procrastination mode. Instead of writing about modes of alienation or the spread of sickle-cell anaemia, we watch videos of dogs skateboarding on YouTube. Mindfulness, in a way, allows us to take breaks that are productive and that will make it less likely that we stop doing our work. Nagging thoughts will be dealt with and therefore, will be less likely to distract us when we really need to get down to business.
I remember a few years ago when I had a very important set of exams, and I just couldn’t stop myself from doing stuff that I never would have done at any time. My mind was filled with these inane suggestions: “Clean your room, it’s so messy!”, “You really ought to call your grandparents”, and so on. When I meditated, it became clear that these thoughts weren’t a genuine product of my mind trying to get me to do something useful, they were simply a means of distracting myself and willing myself into an unproductive procrastination session. So, here’s my advice. If you’re ever in a really, really stressful period of your life, and are tempted to give up mindfulness so that you can try to get stuff done (although you know you probably won’t actually get much done), take a break. And be mindful.