At StraighterLine, we don’t just talk about a culture of caring, we live it. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Stop, Breathe & Think, the award-winning mindfulness app, to help student advisors and those on the frontline working with students navigate the ups and downs of their jobs and reduce stress so they can be at their best to help students succeed.
By Ariana Kornblau, Stop, Breathe & Think
We often see Student Advisors burning the candle at both ends. Mentoring requires a great deal of emotional labor – as an advisor whose job it is to steer students during their academic journey, support degree and career mapping and suggest tools for stress management, making time to look after yourself is often the first to go.
It is a part of the advisor-student territory to believe in, encourage and understand others, yet it can be easy to forget how to extend that same sort of kindness to yourself. Student Advisors consistently fill others’ cups, while many times, forgetting to fill their own. Taking care of yourself is critical to being able to address the needs of others: students and colleagues alike.
We all experience stress. There is the chronic stress of daily life and simply being human, but there’s also the kind that happens in managing college student relationships, who are arriving with their own challenges, too.
Unkind self-talk can get louder, and you may become harder on yourself without even realizing it. Maybe your thoughts start to take on a self-critical tone. This is where mindfulness can help as a support to setting healthy boundaries and taking time for yourself when you are feeling overwhelmed. As an added bonus, the more you practice, the more you can create a mindful, balanced environment for the students you support.
- Basic Needs: Keep Maslow’s hierarchy in the back of your mind. It is impossible to support students with big life questions and decisions when your basic needs are not met. Drinking water each hour, scheduling bathroom breaks and beginning student sessions with a mindful breath will help keep you grounded with sufficient energy to be present throughout your day (without forgoing your physical wellness).
- Check-in: While students often bring their own baggage into sessions, advisors can too. Taking a moment to check-in with how you are feeling and then setting a positive aspiration for the next meeting period is a grounding mindfulness practice and a wonderful way to reset.
- Focus on the breath: Never underestimate the positive, physiological effects of breathing. This simple act can help create a little space when you need it, especially in the middle of whatever is stirring up your stress. Breathing can help you to energize, be present and centered, and find calm in the middle of a storm. The Stop, Breathe & Think app offers 3-5 minute guided breathing tracks such as Mindful Breathing, 2:4 Breathing, Energizing Breath etc to support this practice.
- Mindfulness can lead to self-compassion, and the beautiful act of learning how to become aware of your inner critic so that you can begin to nurture your inner ally instead.
- Move your body: Stretch your body for at least 10 minutes a day to relax, improve circulation and work the pains from sitting at a desk. Here are 3 quick stretches for when you’re crunched for time:- Roll your wrists in a circle one direction, and then the other.
- Bend over, hang and let your hands reach for your toes.
- Twist your torso slowly to one side, and then the other.
- Reach your arms as high as you can.
- Carve out time for joy: This is a tough one. Student advisors are often running on little to zero excess time. There isn’t time in the day to reflect, pause or connect. Creating space for appreciation and joy can bring anyone out of a negative mindset and plant them in the present. Try giving a coworker or student a shout out for a job well done, or spend a moment thinking about a part of the day that you enjoyed (such as the wind on your skin as you walked in to work).
- Stop, Breathe & Think
STOP: Just Pause for a moment – stop what you are doing, or just pause for a moment in your mind.
BREATHE: Take a few deep breaths, paying attention to your breath as it goes in and out.
THINK: As you continue to breathe deeply, call to mind a student or person (or group of people) you are about to interact with.As you imagine them, think to yourself, “Just like me, they want to be happy and have a positive experience. They are a human being with feelings just like me. Just like me, they want to feel understood and respected.”Now, with a few deep breaths, send some kind wishes.
Make a wish for your own happiness. It can be something like, “May I be strong and healthy, and may I have positive experiences and happiness.” Or you can use your own words. Make the wish for the happiness of the other person or people. Something like “May they be peaceful, safe and content, and may they have positive experiences and happiness.”
And finally, smile.
- End the day with gratitude: Before you go to bed at night, write down at least one thing that you’re grateful for. Gratitude is proven to boost your physical and mental well-being and help you sleep. Plus, it makes you feel happier too. The more you can reframe your mind towards a grateful mindset, the more gratitude you will feel!
Ariana Kornblau serves as the Academic Partnership Manager at Stop, Breathe & Think; an award-winning mindfulness app whose mission is to help everyone navigate life’s ups and downs. Ariana has worked firsthand with thousands of educators around the world who are passionate about integrating Social Emotional Learning into their school ecosystem. A certified yoga instructor via Yogaworks, and a graduate of UCLA’s Healing Arts program and Anne Green Gilbert’s Brain Compatible Dance method, Ariana understands the significant role that both the mind and body play in living a life of peace.
STOP, BREATHE & THINK
Stop, Breathe & Think, available on iOS, Android and soon-to-be desktops, is an emotional wellness platform that helps everyone navigate life's ups and downs. As a mindfulness edtech tool, SBT supports the core competencies of Social Emotional Learning via narrated mindfulness tracks, guided journaling and step-by-step programming to tackle specific challenges.