Tips for Relieving Stress During the Final Stretch

College can be extremely stressful, especially with finals around the corner (yikes!). Between trying to balance seemingly endless assignments with an internship or extracurriculars, while also attempting to maintain a social life, it is normal to feel overwhelmed. Sometimes college (or life in general) can feel like being stuck on a moving train that is never stopping.

Even though some amounts of stress are completely normal and can actually help motivate you to get your work done, too much stress can get in the way of accomplishing your goals. It’s difficult to think clearly when you are too overwhelmed, and it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. We’ve come up with a list of tips to help you relieve some of your stress, and start living a happier, more peaceful life.

1. Take a few deep breaths.

It's easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day pressures and stressors that we forget to take a second to process everything and just breathe. Motivational speaker and bestselling author Gabrielle Berstein explains how when we get caught up in our anxieties, we become disconnected with our "natural flow of life" which jeopardizes our energy to move forward. Berstein explains a simple 60-second breathing exercise to help you break through emotional blocks when you become overwhelmed with stress. This special breathing technique called breath of fire only takes 60 seconds and has several positive health benefits, as it "oxygenates and purifies the bloodstream, it stimulates the energy flow in your body, it stimulates the pituitary gland (which helps you bring all the other glands into balance), and it strengthens your electromagnetic field so that you become a magnet for greatness."

2. Wake up earlier and set aside some quiet time just for you.

Have you ever woken up in the morning, realized your gigantic to-do list, and just wanted to crawl back under the sheets and hide from life? When you have a ton of work to complete, it's tempting to want to stay in bed all day in order to avoid it. Try waking up 15-30 minutes earlier than usual, and setting aside those extra minutes for some "me time." Spend this time just to relax and reflect on your day to come. This could mean waking up 15 minutes early to enjoy a cup of tea or to read the news. This could also be a good time to write a few notes in a journal, such as your goals for the day or things you are grateful for. Having this peaceful time in the morning will make it easier to get up because you will have something to look forward to. Also, there's nothing more stressful than waking up late and rushing around furiously to get ready on time. A peaceful morning routine will set you up for a better day. Note: It's probably not a good idea to check your email or social media during this time. While tempting, social media and email can often cause more stress, while this time should be about relaxation. 

3. Make your bed every morning. 

You’d be surprised how much calmer and inviting it is to walk into a room with a made-bed, as opposed to walking into a room with a messy bed. Even if the rest of your room is a mess, having a neat bed will instantly bring more serenity into your living space. Plus, having your bed made just makes it feel like you have your life together.

4. Keep an organized planner.

With dozens of due-dates, meetings, social gatherings, etc., staying organized is essential. There’s nothing worse than knowing you have tons of events and assignments coming up, but not having all of the dates written down somewhere. Invest in a good planner that can keep all of your important dates and assignments in one place. Although cell phones can work as a calendar, there’s something more satisfying about physically writing down your schedule. Plus, it’s easier to make mistakes on your phone, and technical difficulties could potentially wipe out your entire calendar (gasp!). Some planners even include daily pages for enhanced organization, meal planning pages, and budgeting pages. Some popular planner brands are Lily Pulitzer, kate spade, the Simplified Planner, and the Life Planner. While these planners are somewhat pricey, they are worth the investment. 

5. Plan ahead of time what day you are going to do laundry, straighten your room, etc.

It's really easy to get caught up in the little things and miss the big picture. If you're the type of person who freaks out when your room isn't perfectly clean, or stresses out because your laundry is piling up, it's often tempting to drop everything you're doing to make things perfect. Yet unfortunately, you need to accept that everything cannot be completely perfect all the time. Instead, it's helpful to plan ahead of time when you are going to do certain tasks. For example, you could decide that you are going to straighten your room every Wednesday and Sunday, and do laundry every Friday. Knowing ahead of time exactly when you are going to complete certain tasks will help you stay calm now, because you know for sure that it'll get done, and it won't constantly be nagging you anymore. Write down what you need to get done. Decide on a time to get it done. And then let it go until that time.

6. Set aside time each day to do something you enjoy.

You've heard this advice before. But between all of the demands that your teachers, peers and employees place on you, it's likely that you often forget to worry about the most important person in your life: yourself. Even if it's just taking an hour out of each day to read for pleasure, do photography, sing, work out, or whatever else you enjoy doing, it's important for your own happiness and mental health to spend some time doing what you want to do. Plus, you'll have something to look forward to each day.

7. Get off campus.

With having everything you need to survive right on campus, it's easy to get stuck in your "college bubble." However, it's a good idea to get off campus once and a while to clear your mind and see the bigger picture. This could just be trying out a new off-campus coffee shop to study, or visiting some unique DC destinations. You don't need to go far. But you'll be surprised how freeing it feels to leave behind campus for a while.

8. Keep a journal.

Keeping a journal isn't just for middle-schoolers gushing about their new crush. Writing down your thoughts and feelings has tons of mental health benefits. First, it helps you to express pent up feelings, fears and emotions. Writing about something that you are upset or frustrated by can help you move past it. It can also help you become more in touch with yourself and your feelings. There's something relieving about putting everything in your mind onto paper.

9. Try yoga.

Yoga has countless health benefits, and is especially helpful with reducing stress by helping you get out of your own head. 

10. Focus on your happiness.

“Committing to your happiness increases your chances for success." -Robert Holden.

Think about this: people oftentimes believe that they need to be successful in order to be happy. However, in real life, solely success rarely leads to happiness, because if you are dependent on success to feel satisfied, no amount of success will ever feel enough. Instead, focusing on your happiness will help shape your attitude which will in turn attract more success. It makes sense. When we are happy, we think clearer and are more motivated and excited to do things. The next time you feel overwhelmed, take a few minutes to think about the things that make you happy. Try to hold onto that positive feeling. The rest will become easier.

 

 

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