December 25th, 2013 by schoolbound
(This post was originally published on September 25, 2013 but with exams, the holidays and a new semester looming it is good to revisit)
Does this sound familiar? You have an exam coming up and you are 3 chapters behind on your reading, you have to take online quizzes by the end of the week or you do not get credit which counts towards your grade, you have 2 essays due this week, you are working tonight, you have no clean underwear, and your car needs a new battery. Stressed out? The last thing you need is to get sick on top of all that!
We have all been there. Look, you have to take care of yourself. None of this makes any sense if you are not healthy enough to reap the rewards of a better education and eventually better paying position. So here are some tips to help you cope. Some of them are so easily attainable and require very little time investment that you have no excuse not to give them a try!
- Deep Breathing: Yeah I know… you think this stuff is for granola eating tree huggers. NOT TRUE! Studies have shown that even taking five deep breaths can lower blood pressure exponentially, release toxins, clear your head and release anger. And you can do it in class or in your car… virtually anywhere you can breathe! Just inhale deeply until you can not get another bit of air into your lungs, hold for a count of three, and exhale deeply til you can not get another smidgeon out. Then do it again. And again. And two more times. There. Doesn’t that feel better?
- Keep a journal: Ok maybe the last thing you feel like doing is writing anything else. But this is different. This is not for a professor to grade, this is entirely for you. If you want to vent and do not have a friend who you can let loose and be honest with, tell your journal. Even if it is two sentences writing about the girl at the checkout counter who was clearly having a worse day than you… do it. It does help.
- Exercise: Go on and get your sweat on! Nothing feels as great as the endorphin release after a good sweat. Whether it is a short run, going to the gym, pumping some iron, swimming a few laps, shooting some hoops, going for a walk, or just dropping down and giving yourself 20, any of it will help refocus your mind and relieve your stress. Make time to do this, it is worth it in the long run.
- Go Dancing: Who doesn’t like music? Who doesn’t hear their favorite song come up, blast it and boogie around their living room? Whether it is the solo living room dance or gathering a few friends and hitting a dance club or concert, dancing is a great way to unwind and have fun. Guaranteed this will change your mood and make you smile, but give you a bit of a workout too. All good destressers.
- Go For A Hike (or a walk) : Just get outside and breathe some fresh air. Whether you are city bound or in the country, getting outside away from the source of your stress is important and helpful. Change your scenery, see how the other half is living and refocus.
- Laugh: Call or hang out with that hilarious friend of yours that cracks you up and you laugh uncontrollably with on the regular basis. Rent a funny movie or stand up comedy DVD. Laughter really truly is the best medicine. It is proven to lower blood pressure and tension, helps blood flow and more than anything, it is awesome.
- Clean Up: Is your desk or workspace a complete disaster area? Do you feel like you are being swallowed by the enormous amount of clutter all around you? Take a half hour and throw away the unnecessary, organize the necessary and wipe up that coffee ring that makes your elbow sticky every time you lean on it. Resetting your workspace may just reset your headspace and bring you a sense of calm.
- Aromatherapy: Ok here is that tree hugger again. NOT! It is a fact that certain smells can release endorphins and help with stress levels. Do you have to go to your local Yoga Meditation studio and get essential oils and a diffuser to reap the benefits of this technique? Nope. Cruise on down to your local bakery and try not to buy a dozen fresh baked warm scones because they smell so irresistible. Bake your own cookies at home and bask in the aroma (realtors are known to bake cookies in the houses they are showing potential buyers to help them feel at home), peel an orange and deep breathe, light a scented candle. Whatever you like the scent of can help you refocus and calm your stress level.
- Yoga: It may not be for everyone but there are folks (men and women alike) who claimed they were totally against it but who never actually tried it, and now they are Yoga addicts. It is not only an amazing workout (you will sweat) but it incorporates movement, flexibility, strength and breathing all together. Mind/body/spirit work that is guaranteed to lower stress. Nuff said.
- Get A Massage: Oh the amazing benefits of a massage!!! If you have never had one it can truly do wonders. One hour of your time and you will feel like a whole new person. People use massage for a variety of health-related purposes, including to relieve pain, rehabilitate sports injuries, reduce stress, increase relaxation, address anxiety and depression and aid general wellness. Sometimes cost can be a factor in doing massage regularly, especially on a student budget. Try calling massage schools in your area. In order to become a CMT (certified massage therapist)students have to put in a certain number of hours and usually the school provides “victims” to practice on by recruiting the general public. You get a great massage for a fraction of the price, and you help a budding therapist get their hours. Win win!
- Talk to the Animals: Animals are known to help in a variety of settings ranging from hospitals, nursing homes, mental institutions, jails, rehabilitation centers and schools . They make us happy and can be affectionate when we need it most. From dogs and cats to horses, birds and even fish… spending time with animals can truly help to unwind those rattled nerves. There are plenty of studies that show heart attack patients who owned pets lived longer than those who didn’t, and that petting one’s own dog could reduce blood pressure.
The key to any of these techniques is making the time to be healthy and add them to your routine.