Healthy, Happy, Humble: Four ways to reduce stress this semester

Who doesn’t love the excitement of a new semester? New classes, new professors and a fresh start to the academic year. The first couple of days of class are simple: survive traffic, show up, read the syllabus and make sure you get your books. But before you know it, exam dates begin to overlap and homework seems to multiply by the day. The feeling can be best described as your brain being crushed under the debris of books and papers. We’ve all been there, this feeling is referred to as stress. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or stressed when you have so much going on. You should know that stress in college and in life in general is inevitable. No one is immune to it, and there is no magical cure for making it go away. However, there are a few habits you can incorporate into your everyday life to help you cope with stress and get back to functioning normally. Because believe it or not, although it can feel like sometimes being stressed and under pressure helps us get tasks done, having a clear mind and calm heart rate can be more effective. So as you make your way through the semester, here are some things to try when it’s crunch-time and all of your assignments are due on the same day. Because hey, it does happen.

Download a meditation app

Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a few minutes to relax your mind. Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits both your emotional well-being and your overall health. Assuming that the majority of students are new to meditation, guided meditation apps might be a great way to ease into it. For example, the app “simply being” allows you to choose how much time you have to meditate and how loud you want the soothing sounds. Keep it on your phone, find a comfortable spot on campus, or at home and just refresh your mind.

Get organized and do one thing at a time

Sure, you may have two papers and an exam due on the same day but you can only do one thing at a time. Create a study/homework plan to avoid last minute cramming or procrastinating a paper. Make it a habit to do a little bit every day so that it does not all come crashing down on you last minute. Get an agenda and stay organized so that you can see when deadlines are approaching.

Exercise and eat healthy

It’s no surprise that one of the ways of coping with stress is exercising. When you’re stressed, moving around may be the last thing you feel like doing, but as little as 20 minutes a day of physical activity can help reduce stress levels because it helps bump up the production of endorphins. Stressful situations can lead us to craving comfort foods like pizza, cookies and potato chips but these types of foods don’t help with stress and make us feel lazy and apathetic. Be sure to fill your day with foods that are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants to boost your immune system and mood.

Sleep well

Although getting a full nights rest may drop to the bottom of your priorities list, every now and then it is important to put sleep at the top. Managing a heavy schedule can get exhausting and it is important to listen to your body and sleep instead of feeding it high sugar energy drinks. Try to get at least 7 to 8 hours every night so you’ll always be at your best. You’ll be able to think more clearly – and you’ll feel better. Stress can crowd your mind and affect your health. Be sure to step back and take a break every once in a while. Fuel your body with the right foods and listen to your body before you get too overwhelmed.

Photo Credit: Betty Nudler

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