College is stressful: early classes, late nights, difficult tests and projects due all in the same week. Balancing school work and all other responsibilities can make anyone feel overwhelmed.

While many students may find comfort in exercise, talking with friends and making sure to take occasional breaks from school and work, a new coping tool is growing in popularity: meditation.

With the addition of meditation rooms in the Pennington Student Achievement Center when it opened last year, the dialogue surrounding this method of stress-relief has picked up.

Many students, however, still aren’t sure about meditation and how it can help. If that’s you, you’re in luck.

This is News You Can Use with a guide to meditation

What is Meditating?

Meditation can mean a lot of things and is often confusing, and even seems strange, to a lot of students.

Definitions can make meditation seem complicated: “Meditation is a practice where an individual operates or trains the mind either to realize some benefit or to simply acknowledge the mind’s content without becoming identified with that content or as an end in itself.”

However, you don’t have to be a yoga master or spiritual guru to meditate. It can be as simple as setting aside 5-10 minutes of your day to put down technology, close your eyes, and breathe. In simpler words than the definition, any thought that crosses your mind you are to acknowledge, and then move on, clearing your mind.

Meditation becomes a lot more than a glorified nap, it teaches those who practice it how to be mindful.

How Can It Help?

According to a study done by Yael Shy in her new book “What Now? Meditation for Your Twenties and Beyond,” stress has overtaken depression as the number one problem in students. In response to this, colleges are investing in new types of programs directly aimed at this problem.

Shy is actually the founder of MindfulNYU, the largest campus-wide meditation initiative in the country. UNR’s meditation rooms in the PSAC mirror the goals of this program on a smaller scale.

“Data shows that students who meditate experience less stress, greater well-being, and even higher GPA’s than their non-meditating counterparts,” Shy wrote in a press release.

In an interview Shy also spoke to why she believes meditation and mindfulness are so important to college-aged students. “This is usually a period of life when things are in flux and we are still figuring out who we are. Why do we form relationships in the way that we do? Why do we suffer in certain ways? How can we make a difference? Meditation can open up doors to understanding ourselves and give us the wisdom to understand the world at this time in life.”

How do I start?

The best way to start meditating? Just go for it! There is a misconception that you can only meditate in silence, or to the sounds of relaxing music and nature. While this is the most popular setting for people to meditate, it isn’t the only one. Yael Shy, who herself had these misconceptions about meditation, argues that the practice is much more about being aware of your thoughts, mindset, and the world around you.

“The biggest piece of advice I can give is to try and find the beauty and the vibrancy of life right in the middle of all the mayhem,” Shy said in an interview with Bad Yogi.

Check out Yael Shy’s newly released book, “What Now? Meditation for Your Twenties and Beyond.”

Do you have any meditation or other stress-relieving tips or tricks? Share them with us @NevadaSagebrush.

Emily Fisher can be reached at efisher@sagebrush.unr and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.