Stress No More!
By Meredith Cox, Health and Wellness Columnist
Papers, projects, presentations, oh my. Spring Break is officially over. Professors are assigning work like there is no tomorrow and Musselman Library is now the most crowded place on campus. We have officially reached crunch time and need to power through to the end of the semester, which is less than 6 weeks away! Stress can be unavoidable, but is also manageable. Here are some ways you can stay sane over the next few weeks while also remaining productive and successful.
Identify Your Triggers. One of the easiest ways to manage stress is to just avoid it in the first place. Being able too recognize the factors that make you feel stressed will make it easier to avoid that anxious state. The next time you feel swamped, think about what led you to that feeling. Maybe it was putting a paper off until the last minute, having a disorganized calendar, or even talking to someone who makes you feel frazzled and uneasy. Learn to identify the signs that lead to that overwhelming feeling and try to avoid them. If you cannot avoid the stressors, plan ahead and mentally prepare a plan on how to tackle them.
Breathe. Practice meditation. Get a massage. Even drink a warm cup of tea. Practicing soothing activities has been shown to be a great stress management tool. Here, you are exercising your mindfulness, becoming aware of your body and centering yourself in a place of calmness and relaxation. Take ten minutes each day to shut down and focus on the present. You can even try talking to someone about your stressors, becoming aware and actually listening to your inner self.
Be picky with what you eat. Some foods are proven stress relievers. Many people feel instantly relieved when they eat crunchy foods. The aggressive nature of biting down onto something allows you to get out some frustration in a healthy way. Try reaching for some carrots, nuts, or pretzels the next time you feel a wave of stress coming over you. Also, make sure you are getting enough antioxidant-rich foods, as they are proven to lower cortisol levels, the stress hormone, and blood pressure. Try to incorporate berries into your diet to prevent stress from rising, and even freeze them to get the added crunch factor!
Exercise. One of the best ways to let some steam off is to get moving. Physical activity produces endorphins, or those happy hormones that make you feel so good after a tough workout. However, even something as simple as going for a walk is enough to stimulate the release of endorphins. If your stress levels have you feeling tight and edgy, try stretching to relieve some muscle tension. Make sure you pick a form of exercise you like, as you are more likely to stick with the routine if you enjoy it. Exercise should not be yet another stress factor in your life.
Stress is a common and standard part of the college experience. However, it can be limited and controlled if you take the right steps. So the next time you are on high alert, try one of these activities to prevent you from crashing and burning.