by Emily Cohen
Nicole Brait, a junior business administration major, walks into her room, sits down at her desk and opens her planner.
She sees she has two papers to write by Tuesday, a project for another class she needs to finish by Monday, a finance midterm on Thursday that she hasn’t started studying for, another midterm next Thursday she hasn’t even thought of yet, sorority service hours she needs to complete in the near future, and on top of it all, her parents are coming to visit her the coming weekend.
A giant knot forms in the pit of her stomach and a look of doom reads clear across her face, it’s already Sunday.
She was stressed.
“It just gets so tough trying to balance everything in your life all at once," she said.
Exam season is about to hit. Stress is taking over the mindset of Chapman students. And as many know, some of the hardest things to do while stressed out are to think clearly, focus, buckle down, and study. The immediate reaction is the desire to cry, sleep, or pull your hair out.
It’s moments like these when stress management tactics need to come into play to decompress all that pent up anxiety.
Maggie Yamin, a junior biology major at the University of California San Diego, took a stress management course this summer, Public Health 10: Stress Management Essentials, and learned many different techniques on how to cope with stress in everyday life and in school.
“Stress management comes from balancing every aspect of your life and tending to all aspects of your life responsibly," said Yamin. "You can’t be focusing all of your energy on studying and school and totally neglect sleep and your social life. Everything needs to be as equalized as possible.”
There are many simple ways that students can relieve their stress during times like these. Strategies ranging from checklists and music, to exercise and deep breathing meditations, can do wonders to help keep calm and carry on.
Here are the top eight ways to deal with stress.
· Exercise—A study from Harvard Medical School shows that physical activity can bring remarkable changes to your mental state.
“The mental benefits of aerobic exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.”
In addition to relieving the mind, exercising also is a productive activity for your body.
· Yoga—According to the Mayo Clinic, multiple reports have shown that practicing yoga can help ease stress levels, lower blood pressure, and elevate your mood and overall well being.
The best part about it is that anyone can do it almost anywhere, given space and flexible clothing. The concentration that comes with the motions of yoga poses (also known as physical meditation) and linking your breathing to your movements helps take your mind off of all of the stressors that are causing anxiety.
MAGGIE ROGERS OFTEN PRACTICES YOGA WHEREVER SHE CAN TO RELIEVE HER STRESS.
· Deep Breathing and Meditations—These two exercises can help calm the physical symptoms of stress such as racing heart beat and a nervous stomach, which in turn can help clear the mind as well, according to junior Dance major and certified yoga instructor, Maggie Rogers. By focusing on the proper way to breathe and the meditations one can achieve a sense of instant calm in a short amount of time.
· Music—Now this can go in two ways. You can either listen to calming and relaxing music to study to or decompress with, or listen to high energy music to shake all of the stress out, clear your mind, and then get back to work.
· Checklists, Planning, and Prioritizing—Writing out and planning a list of tasks that need to be accomplished can help immensely when it feels like there are 100 things that need to be done.
“Writing everything down helps me a lot because I am a very visual person and it keeps me organized. Crossing things off of my list of tasks is also such a great feeling,” said Rogers.
By doing this, you can be sure that you are not forgetting anything, and you can plan out what needs to get done and when in a given timeframe. Working with deadlines often pushes people to get things finished faster than having a looming task at hand causing panic.
· Rewards—These can be as small as allowing yourself to indulge a dessert after finishing all of your homework. Rewards are very important because it makes you feel like you have accomplished something as opposed to working endlessly and feeling like you’ve gotten nowhere.
However it is important not to reward yourself with something that will set you back two steps. It just needs to be a little positive reinforcement to motivate yourself to keep moving forward.
· Hot Showers—Warm water calms the body, mind and nerves and almost washes the stress of a difficult exam away. Adding lavender oil can also help decompress, as the herb is a natural relaxant according to livestrong.com.
· Personal Health—Above everything else, this is probably the most important of all. Making sure you are getting enough sleep and regularly eating a healthy diet can make a world of a difference in the long run.
Studies from the National Sleep Foundation have shown that adults, ages 18 and over, are supposed to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. This is often times overlooked by college students.
The truth of the matter is, if you are not sleeping enough, your body won’t be able to function properly or focus on what needs to get done in order to relieve anxiety.
Also eating a balanced meal is key to keeping one’s body healthy. A diet of ramen and coffee isn’t going to get the job done, sorry about it.
As the wave of exams and group projects takes over, just remember, it’s the small things that can help volumes when it comes to defeating the monster that is stress.
“Personally, I love working out to relieve stress from school and everyday life. I feel it allows me to have some sort of control in my life and it also lets me clear my head of all of the negative thoughts that come with stress,” said Brait.
Just keep calm and panther on folks.