College is a Mind and Body Experience - Part 2

What's the difference between a cognitive and sensory response? In Part 1 we discussed the difference between stress and trauma and the many ways students manage stress. If you read Part 1, you most likely only engaged the cognitive or thinking parts of yourself as you sought to understand the contents of this blog. As you continue reading, shift part of your attention to the physical position of your body, noticing any discomfort or pressure points that are holding you in the current posture. As you continue reading, can you adjust your posture in ways to relieve pressure or discomfort? Next, continue reading and turn your attention to your breathing. Are your breaths full and easy? Finally, notice any physical sensations present in response to reading this blog. Is your brow furled as you think through the content? Do you feel a physical release with any "Aha" moments of understanding?

mindbodyexperienceblogSensory or body-based responses to the regular stresses of college involve paying attention to physical sensations and responding in immediate and simple ways to relieve strain and pressure in the moment. A student who completes the financial aid application will have achieved a significant accomplishment on the journey to college. However, by taking a few extra minutes at key points in the application process to attend to any physical buildup of strain or pressure generated by the process gives students the opportunity to physically adjust their bodies and breathing to release any extra tension, and not store it.

College is ultimately a mind and body experience, and most of the college experience is an exercise of conditioning the mind. Attention to the body, and particularly how stress is felt and stored, is critical to achieve balance and well-being for students. There are many ways for students to respond to the pressures and strains of stress that show up in their bodies. Those working in direct service with students can encourage students to find that balance through quiet activities such as a walk in nature or feeling the rhythm in music or through more physical movement such as running, biking and swimming. By turning the mind's attention to one's physical body, each person will know what activity or action is optimal for them in that moment. All students have the capacity to develop the habit of attending to the physical sensations in their body and breath, and to make adjustments that bring greater physical ease in the moment. Student who exercise this habit regularly, will not only experience greater success at cognitive tasks, but will also enjoy more fully the wide range of opportunities along the college journey. As you help students prepare for the steps to college, consider helping them prepare for the full mind and body experience.

Want to learn more? Watch the recorded webinar, College Is...a Mind and Body Experience from September 23, 2014.

Guest Author: Yvonne Unrau, Ph.D. Professor of Social Work and Director of the Center for Fostering Success at Western Michigan University

Posted: November 20, 2014

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