Monday, April 27, 2015

          Don’t Stress During Finals

          With meditation, yoga, free food and even dog therapy, UC Hastings has your back.
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          Mindfulness instructor Gina Maria Mele and Michael Stonebreaker ‘98, Associate Director for Academic Advising and Programming.

          It’s finals.

          You’ve got way too much to do in a day, and the anxiety about exams or papers is throwing you off balance. You know that you should be exercising, eating right, and relaxing whenever possible, but there’s just no time for that, right?

          Wrong. This is the time to be mindful, said Michael Stonebreaker ‘98, Associate Director for Academic Advising and Programming. Stonebreaker leads the UC Hastings Meditation Group, which regularly meets twice a week during the school year, and which is offering additional finals week meditation sessions.

          “Stress is inevitable in the law school environment, whether you are a student, staff or faculty,” said Stonebreaker. “How you deal with and respond to that stress can be your choice.”

          At a recent meditation group meeting, Gina Maria Mele, a neurobiologist and mindfulness instructor took students and staff through a few practical 5-minute meditations. “Try to focus on a time when you were really happy, and get ahold of that feeling deep in your body,” she encouraged the group, as everyone relaxed and closed their eyes.

          Continually bringing attention back to that stored up feeling of happiness -- even just for five minutes -- can have huge benefits, especially for productivity, Mele said. “I can have 20 things on my to-do list for the day, and not think I can get even half of it done. But if I meditate in the morning, it calms my sympathetic nervous system, and I’m able to focus with much more effectiveness and get it all done. I wish I had these tools when I was in graduate school,” she said.

          Mele also emphasized that the brain is like a muscle that can get overworked and which needs rest, she explained. “Like athletes who train really hard and then take a week off from physical activity, we need to rest and recuperate our brains while preparing for exams or writing papers for long stretches,” she said.

          For the next week, students can also generate those warm fuzzy feelings by attending dog therapy sessions in the library (offered by the SPCA), getting a massage or joining a yoga class. Student Services is also offering nutritious study break snacks. Check the Events Listing ​for times and locations. Good luck! 

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