Should I relax, or should I concentrate?
Friday 19th June 2020
The eternal question students ask themselves
Somewhere along the way, we have forgotten what 'relaxation' actually means. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly love a good lavender infused bath, the feeling of doing nothing, and finishing my yoga sessions with that all important (for me anyway) shavasana - the corpse pose where you simply lie there and sometimes fall asleep.
But what's interesting is that relaxation is now often seen as the opposite to the word 'concentrate.' The word concentrate itself has taken on all sorts of horrendous connotations. The tightness of the shoulders, the strain in my eyes, the forceful stare at the blank page in front of me, the sweating of my palms. Sometimes even the stopping of the breathing.
Is it a surprise that concentration is now universally disliked, not just by students but also by adults. And yet, there are those who feel this is an incredibly important aspect of schooling, without which you would surely never pass your academic year exams.
Let me clear up some of these misconceptions. That concentration in the way described above must be there in order to do well in school is false. That concentration is the opposite of relaxation is also throughly wrong.
Have we ever wondered why the greatest inventors of our time have created their masterpieces while daydreaming? Our mind's are at their most creative and efficient when we are calm, collected and stimulated. The mind is a wonderful tool that works at its best when we are breathing deeply, flowing with creative juices and allowed, instead of forced, to think.
According to studies, exam blankness is a syndrome that occurs when the body and mind are so tense that the body goes into a shocked fight/flight mode, and the thinking part of the brain shuts down. So, here are some #hacks to support you to feel calmer, and work better:
- BREATHE. It is so important and cannot be talked about enough. Slow down your breathing when you are tense. 5 seconds in and 7 seconds out. Elongating your out breaths will help slow down your heart rate, normalise hormone functions in the body and awaken your thinking brain.
- While breathing, feel a surge of power spreading into your hands. Your hands are a powerful self healing tool. With eyes closed, lift your right hand and place it on your chest, over your heart space. Now really feel the healing spreading from your hands into your heart and watch as your breathing returns to normal, the anxiety caught into your chest dissipates. Self love leads to self preservation.
- Some people love the feeling of weight on them in to help with anxiety. If this is not physically possible, close your eyes and imagine you are lying on your back at night somewhere you love. I might choose the African Savanna. Lying under the twinkling stars and enjoying the scent of the grassland around me. Then visualise your favourite animal coming towards you, as gentle and loving as you want them to be. I might think of a lion. They come and nestle in into your arms. You can feel some of their weight pressing on you, their warm, silky mane against your face. Feel their love and sensation this creates inside you. This process supports in calming the nervous system when it has gone into panic mode. A panicked nervous system triggers stress and anxiety, cause brain blankness and create a spiral effect for academic non-success. Soothe with this awesome trick.
- Close your eyes and visualise your favourite place. Imagine being there. Feel the sensations of being there. If your favourite place was a garden, feel the grass under your feet, the breeze across your face, the scent of the flowers around you. Take time to do this. Not only does this visualisation uplift you, it will also distract your mind from the threat of work and allow your body functions to return to normal.
With the above practiced regularly, you will be able to master your stress and anxiety and support the healing of your mind towards learning. Learn, grow, succeed in the best and most calming way possible.
For more visual guidance, please watch the supporting video on Facebook @dyslexiaandi.
Have a calm and collected day and daydream plentifully!