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We have always been skeptics when it comes to activities that require you to talk to yourself — or that prevent you from talking to anyone else. But science actually backs up the power of some of the following exercises. Though they may seem a little woo-woo at first, the truth is, when you’re desperate for relief from college essay stress, you may be willing to try something a little out there – especially if it has the potential to soothe your fried nerves.
So if you find yourself hyperventilating over your opening line or simply want to recharge before you dive into your fourth Why essay, give these exercises a try. You might be pleasantly surprised at the power a posture, a few words, or some silence can have on your mentality.
According to Harvard social psychologist and famous TED Talker Amy Cuddy, the way you carry yourself can have a powerful effect on your attitude; and as we all know, bringing a can-do attitude with you into the college essay process is absolutely essential. Striking a “High Power Pose” for just two minutes can have an impact on the way you feel about yourself and your abilities, imbuing you with confidence and decreasing your cortisol (“stress hormone”) levels.
Take up some space with your body, one of the hallmarks of a High Power Pose. Imitate Wonder Woman’s epic stance, puffing your chest out with your hands on your hips. Take a stand to change your body’s chemistry for the better, and make a proactive move to feel more powerful and relaxed in your own skin. Then carry that newfound positive energy back with you to the essay page.
I have the smarts and the ability to get through this. Every one of my problems has a solution. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and doggone it, people like me. Saturday Night Live may have spent years poking fun at the concept of the daily affirmation, but just like with power posing, the impact of feeding yourself with positivity and optimism can have an astounding effect on your productivity levels.
If you wake up feeling low or find yourself stuck at any point in the process, have a
conversation with yourself. We swear this is a sign of health and not insanity. Pump yourself up. Say the things you know are true, even if you don’t feel them in the moment: Today I am excited about everything. I will stop underestimating myself. I know I can trust my brain and write my guts out and trust my gut and write my brains out. The power of these words will work their way into your thoughts and fuel your work on the page.
Start with a beginner’s breathing exercise. All you need is your body and a quiet space. Set a timer for two minutes, sit down on the floor with crossed legs, or in a chair if you lack flexibility and count each breath.
This is harder than you think– other thoughts will come into your mind – thoughts about why your second paragraph isn’t working quite right and what you want to eat for dinner (a hamburger). Push those thoughts out of your mind and simply concentrate on taking long, slow breaths. When the timer rings, open your eyes and linger in a moment of calm.