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Ask Emily Anything: How Do I Become Less Stressed?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bowdoin chapter.

This is the first installment for HC Bowdoin’s new advice column. Ask Emily anything at the bottom!

Hey Emily,

I always get super stressed out during the beginning of classes with my new schedule and buying all my news books, so I was wondering if you had a few suggestions of ways to de-stress. Thanks!

Stressed at Stowe Inn

Don’t fret stressed Stowe resident! – We’re all in the same boat. In fact, as I write this, the window that has been minimized just about all break long is begging me to finally fill out an internship application or two, the window that has been stuck on Facebook for just as long is reminding me that I should really be researching study abroad destinations, my phone is vibrating because my grandparents would really like to see me before school starts, and at the same time feels like it isn’t vibrating enough because I am recently short a boyfriend, and, not to be forgotten, the extremely unattractive blemish on my forehead is reminding me that I really shouldn’t have left my room today. It’s certainly not easy to be a collegiette™, especially at Bowdoin, where we’re constantly being held down by schoolwork, time commitments, our arctic climate, and last, but certainly not least stressful, boys. For my friend at Stowe Inn and myself, all of these stresses are amplified by the start of a new semester, when the promise of a fresh-start and a fear of the unknown can give us high expectations and a high level of anxiety to match.

To combat the stresses of a new semester I propose making your first assignment a commitment to you, and to prioritizing your mental health above all of those things trying to stress you out. Like any assignment, training your body to relax will take time and dedication, but unlike physics or political theory, it can be done in just an hour or two a week. Here’s what I suggest for the Sunday night before classes start, and for every Sunday night after that:

  • Make Tea!

Easily found in Moulton, Thorne or the Café, decaffeinated tea can do wonders to help the body relax and distress. I strongly advise stealing some tea bags to bring home, as studies have shown that the simple act of warming water and pouring it over a tea bag can ease tension. Go for the any of the “Sleepytime” teas in the dining halls or a chamomile or herbal tea at the Café.

  • Make a plan for tomorrow!

As your tea brews make a list for tomorrow – you’re done with work for the night. Making a list will help you manage your time and keep you from feeling as though you should be staying up late to work. There’s nothing that can’t wait, or won’t be done better, in the morning.

  • Exfoliate and Cleanse with an Olive Oil and Sugar Scrub!

Showering and exfoliating can be great to help wake the body up in the morning, but are equally helpful in scraping away the day’s stress and putting the body to bed. An olive oil and sugar scrub is amazing for wiping away dead skin and leaving the body soft and pampered – and its ingredients can be readily found at a dining hall! (Don’t worry, the olive oil is unlikely to clog pores or cause acne because it is a natural oil.) To make it you’ll need olive oil, sugar and honey (and a flavored essential oil for scent if you want).

Here’s how to make and use this at-home stress remedy:

  1. Measure 2 cups of white sugar and pour into a container
  2. Add approximately ¾ to 1 cup olive oil
  3. Add 1-2 cups of honey for desired sludge-like consistency (Optional: add 1 to 2 drops of essential oil – vanilla extract works well if you have it)
  4. Scoop out about ¼ cup of the prepared scrub, leaving the rest in a closed container (which can be stored in a refrigerator or cabinet) and apply to dry skin before entering the shower. After entering the shower, scrub and rinse with warm water.
  5. After exiting the shower apply favorite moisturizer (leftover olive oil works great for feet, elbows or other dry-skin problem areas).
  • Bed Time!

Immediately after over-moisturizing, jump into pajamas (or if you have a single and fly that way, skip that part), and enjoy your newly softened skin and relaxed body. It’s time for bed. Done once weekly this routine can improve skin and decrease stress by helping you get the sleep you need. Clearly it’s best to get those eight hours every night of the week, but we all know that’s easier said than done. However there’s no excuse not to treat yourself every so often to a couple hours that are all about you.

Want advice about anything from guy problems, managing homework, or even what kind of shoes to wear to the party next Saturday in a blizzard? Ask me anything here, and I will answer it in my next installment!

Joanna Buffum is a senior English major and Anthropology minor at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.  She is from Morristown, NJ and in the summer of 2009 she was an advertising intern for OK! Magazine and the editorial blog intern for Zagat Survey in New York City. This past summer she was an editorial intern for MTV World's music website called MTV Iggy, writing fun things like album and concert reviews for bands you have never heard of before. Her favorite books are basically anything involving fantasy fiction, especially the Harry Potter series and “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell” by Susanna Clarke. In her free time she enjoys snowboarding, playing intramural field hockey, watching House MD, and making paninis. In the spring of 2010 she studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, and she misses the friendly, tall, and unusually attractive Danish people more than she can say. After college, she plans on pursuing a career in writing, but it can be anywhere from television script writing, to magazine journalism, to book publishing.