Master your mind: Interview with Lisa Harder

Writer: Jana Ozoliņa

Editor: Mariia Lysikova

Photographer: Firuza Burkitbayeva

Lisa Harder talking about the importance of planning your time.
Lisa Harder talking about the importance of planning your time.

Lisa Harder, the counselor at LCC International University standing on the stage of the Neufeld auditorium, started to pour water into the glass vase with a sticker on it that said, "Attention." The audience watched the water quickly fill in the vase.  


“Our attention is limited. So how are you planning to spend yours?” asked Lisa.


Harder said, Use your mind to focus and concentrate on the tasks that are before you. Master your mind by learning to control what's within your ability to control and minimize the distractions. Know when you are most awake to plan to do things. To begin mastery of your mind, ask yourself: 


What are your goals?

What is important to you?

What needs to happen?


• How can a student find inner peace and calm working in a dorm room?


Listen to white noise. It can help you to create a space where you minimize the surrounding noise.


There are times when the dorm room is quieter like early mornings, or there might be other times when all the roommates are in the class except you. Be observant at what hours the room is quieter that is combined with your peak energy times.



• How can students improve their focus in class?


Put the phone away; don't leave it in your lap when it is buzzing. Keep it out of sight, out of mind.  Set up worry time - it is a technique when you allow yourself to think about whatever makes you worry for 20 minutes. If you have intrusive thoughts during your class and they make you feel anxious or stressed out, write them down on paper to think about them later, so you can accomplish it and not be distracted.


• How to stop procrastinating? 


Know what your distractions are. Be ruthless with yourself to eliminate them. Planning and having a calendar is very important. Plan when you are going to study (from what time to what). Taking breaks in between your work is essential. It is time that you can dedicate to yourself, to do other things besides work, goof off. You can exercise, have social time, know that you will have your needs met during specifically dedicated times. 


• What exercises can a student do to relax their mind?


Deep breathing. When you are deep breathing, your body is relaxing.  Slow your breath down, 5 minutes focus on breathing, breath in really, really deep. It calms a body down to the point that you can start focusing on the right kinds of mental energy, and whatever the stressor is. 


• If someone sees that someone is getting anxious, how to help them?


Invite them for a walk, do breathing with them. Also, exercise puts a person in a different mindset. Give them space to talk without having to fix them. 


• Is there a trick to manage time?


Writing things down on paper. When I start to feel stressed, I start putting things down on the paper and the try to plan. Knowing the peak times is important here again. Do the hard things that require a lot of concentration and effort from your part when you are at your best. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part; once you get started, you get the momentum going, your mind shifts, and it less overwhelming.  


• How to start working if a student does not want to?


Reward yourself. If I spend the next half hour doing this job I don't want to do, I will take ten minutes doing the activity that I love. Set time aside to do something you like. For example, I will do this work, and then I will go out with my friends, go enjoy a nice day out. Whatever works best for you, as long as it is a healthy reward.

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