Staying mindful during lockdown

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How university prepared me for lockdown

Everybody’s experience of lockdown is different, but the way you perceive this time changes the way you use it.

Last semester I took part in a mindfulness course with the School of Geosciences. A 10-week programme designed to help us deal with stress and conquer our demons. But it did so much more than that. Now I have this opportunity to reflect, it is even more important to be mindful.

So what does this mean? Being mindful?

Essentially, mindfulness is about stopping and focusing on your body. Using breathing techniques amongst other things which forces you to focus on you in the present moment and not thoughts which may be bothering you.

Girl picking flowers

It sounds really simple but it works!

How can I be mindful?

The main technique we were taught is a FOFBOC – feet on floor, back on chair – close your eyes and breathe. You could even follow this up with a 7/11, which is counting your breaths (in for 7 out for 11, but you just make the numbers fit the breath don’t actually try to breathe out for 11..!)

Just stepping aside for 15 minutes without your phone, focusing on your body and calming down your breathing will help you to be more at peace.

Why would I be mindful?

By focusing on your body and breathing, you take the energy away from the negative thoughts which may come into your brain. If you find yourself thinking about these negative thoughts take your consciousness back into your body – how are you feeling? Count your breaths? Do a body scan from head to toe really trying to feel each body part and focus on you.Man running through Richmond Park

The benefits are endless – it can help you regain focus and positivity during the day. Or before bed can help you fall asleep.

How else can I be mindful?

Other ways in which we were taught to be mindful is through eating. When you are eating a snack – take it all in! How does it taste? How does it feel on your tongue? Is it spicy? Is it crunchy? Spending 10 minutes doing this makes you appreciate what you’re eating much more – rather than just consuming whole bags of crisps (which I know I’m definitely guilty of….)

Likewise you can be mindful on your daily walk – what can you notice that you don’t usually notice? Are there any sounds? How does your foot feel against the ground? If you change your walking pace does the sensation change? Does your shoe make a funny sound? Etc

A small bird in garden

Often we are so preoccupied with ourselves we neglect to take in the world around us.

My personal takeaway from this experience has helped me so much with lockdown so I thought I’d share. It helps us to stop and just be. To appreciate the moment, and be aware of whats on our mind but not invest so much energy into it. Instead focus on your body, your breathing, and being mindful!

A geography student’s top secret guide to Edinburgh

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I am a Geography and Social Anthropology student in my second year and I have to be completely honest, when it came to me choosing Edinburgh I picked it as my first choice before I’d ever been. I knew there was something drawing me towards this city and I didn’t realise what a perfect fit it would be for me until I moved in. I took a gap year to travel and amidst my travels I managed to squeeze a visit to the capital in and I automatically fell in love

Fast-forwards to freshers and I felt the EXACT same way. The city is magic

Now that I’ve lived here for a while I will let you in on some of my best kept Edinburgh secrets…

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  • Grrr boring right? NO! The sooner you get your head on straight understanding what you have to do for the academic year the more you can enjoy the rest of your life!
  • My best advice I could give is to stay on top of work and know what assignments you have. Sometimes creating a visual calendar can help with this.
  • The great thing about studying Geography at Edinburgh is you can choose your modules and tailor your degree to be more suited to you. I wish before I’d come to Edinburgh I had done some more research and got ahead on the key readings – most of them are super interesting.
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  • Enjoying burgers at the Boozy Cow.Edinburgh has an amazing underground food and beverage scene, and here is a way you can taste the best Edinburgh has to offer AND be sustainable too! Below is the Boozy Cow who do some of the BEST burgers in Edinburgh (no bias)
  • This applies to clubs too, some of the oldest institutional clubs in Edinburgh are tucked away. Sneaky Pete’s, Subway and Bongos on Cowgate are my personal favourites
  • Close to uni are some great dinky, reasonably priced places to eat
Strike up a conversation!
  • The people of Edinburgh are lovely, don’t be afraid

My family is Scottish, and there is something so distinct about the way that the people of Edinburgh make the atmosphere so calming and happy. One of the first thing I noticed was how friendly taxi drivers are (SO the opposite to my hometown of London). This is a feature of Edinburgh which makes it feel so safe

Explore BEYOND the city centre

Me with poster protesting for climate change.

  • There are so many beautiful experiences to be had beyond the city centre, for instance the beach? Arthurs seat? The Craggs? Holyrood park? Blackford Hill? Leith (best charity shopping in my opinion)….
  • Being in a capital city you can get involved with global movements !!! Me and my friends went to the climate march outside parliament in Holyrood.
  • There are lots of great music festivals at Edinburgh – like FLY, woodlands Me and my friend dancing at a festival.

 

 

And finally…. Get involved!
  • Lectures are sociable places, you can always go for a coffee after with your friends, or if the sun is shining hang out in George Square!
    People dressed up for the Ceilidh.
  • Join a society – I joined the Geographical Society and can never look back, some of these people are my best friends. (I’m social secretary and I get to organise the socials – the picture to the side is from our annual Ceilidh)
  • There are extra lectures put up by the RSGS which are fascinating and explore topics beyond the course materials.

SO, in short there’s many reasons why Edinburgh is fantastic. I hope you follow my guide and have the best years … ever.