Inner balance and well-being during stressful study periods
Studies and new experiences are an exiting time of our lives, no doubt about that! We acquire some of the most memorable experiences though our university studies, uni friends and travels. But with all the positive aspects, it can get overwhelming at times. It is yet normal, we are human beings and can get a little exhausted from the constant changes, fast-paced environments and stress caused by deadlines! With this blog post, I am here to provide my own tips on how I deal with stress and how I care about my well-being while multi-tasking and having a lot on my hands. Hopefully, you can apply some of these tips in your own life!
My piece of advice mainly focuses on meditation and breathing exercises, utilizing Aalto psychologist services, checking out Aalto well-being corner, doing sports, keeping in touch with friendships and family, and being more in the nature.
Mindfulness, meditation practices and breathing exercises
There is countless research conducted in recent years that proves meditation is a great tool to be focused, reduce stress and feel happier. A lot of studies also show that meditation helps to achieve a Theta state of mind, where we are highly intuitive and more connected to ourselves. It also helps us to recharge, process some thoughts, clear the mind and be more present in the moment. I started to meditate infrequently about 2 years ago and believe me; it gets more fun the more you do it! And you definitely notice that it gets easier to do longer meditations and focus. Since then, I continued doing meditations either by myself or using some guided ones. It can be a helpful tool to reduce the level of stress and feel less overwhelmed. Breathing exercises in my view relate a lot to meditation practices and can be an asset if one feels a little elevated and needs to find a piece of mind. A lot of things such as out body tension and stress levels come from the way we breathe. So, regulating it can do wonders. I can suggest multiple ways to try meditation: either by simply finding the videos one likes on YouTube which is easy and free. Apps like headspace can be a handy and accessible way to try these too. Lastly, there are platforms for meditations such as Open-up. I used it for guided meditations and loved it! The last 2 options are not free, unlike YouTube.
Apart from meditations and breathing, there is almost no better way to achieve well-being than doing regular exercises. Luckily we are in Finland, where one has countless opportunities to have beautiful walks and strolls around Otaniemi and beautiful Espoo areas (such as rantaraitti). One can ski and skate in winter and jog and swim in summer, the city is made for the sport activities. Another great tool is the Unisport. It is a student gym/sports organization which has dozens of various sports to offer! For instance, the selection starts from independent workouts at the gym to the group fitness classes, tennis, volleyball and so much more. And it is also very affordable- one gets quite a substantial discount when being a student at Aalto. I certainly suggest checking this option out!
This topic was partially touched upon in the above section, but I would like to highlight how beautiful nature is in Finland and how refreshing and relaxing it can be for the mental health to be around nature more. Finland has one incredible practice of hugging trees. It was proven that doing so increases Oxytocin hormone levels in your body making you happier. Finland even has tree hugging championships held! (Can check tree hugging world championship 2022 for more info). There is even various research showing that trees have different ‘energy’. I would say this is definitely a very nature-connecting and nice activity to do! We all know that we need to take enough breaks during the studies to keep the focus. Taking a break in nature (which is extremely easy when living on Aalto campus area or anywhere else in the capital region) can help to increase well-being and get into deep focus mode and be more productive. I also believe that spending more time around nature increases self-love and love towards the nature and the surrounding world which is a positive and helpful state of being.
Friendships and family
No doubt, people we love is a precious way to feel appreciated, safe and well. In times of busy work or when feeling a bit blue because living further away from the loved ones, keeping the social aspect in life can increase the sense of belonging and well-being. Scheduling skype calls with family on regular basis and meeting friends regularly in person are some ways to feel happier. Sometimes we might feel so tired and busy that we believe we do not have enough time or energy for socializing. But surprisingly, meeting friends might have an opposite effect on you. When we can share our experiences with others and are around people we like, it helps to get the energy back and the emotional state higher and we can feel more recharged afterwards! I would say that it applies to both introverts and extraverts equally because social connection is important for all of all to a certain extent, especially when it comes to people we like spending time with. Sometimes just meeting one close friend can help brighten up the mood.
Aalto well-being and study psychologists
Last but not least, Aalto well-being corner is a great place to recharge and get help or assistance.
Aalto well-being organizes well-being-related events, creates content and blogs. In 2022, I attended some events organized by it and they were like a breath of fresh air! Among yoga and brunch, coffee with dogs, smoothie buffet, wine and paint was one of my favorites. I can really recommend checking this out if you are interested to know more. Below are a couple of relevant links:
Aalto also offers counseling and study psychology services. If you are feeling stuck with the studies or the career path, this can be a great way to get assistance. One can either join group sessions and events or book a one-to-one appointment.
These were my pieces of advice on well-being tips. Good luck and hope these help you during your studies at Aalto!