The semester started out quite well for you. You’re taking classes you like, you figured out a reasonable work schedule, you have great roommates, and you managed to cultivate good study habits. But now, midterms are over and finals week is getting closer. You’ve started having frequent headaches and mood swings, and your procrastination game is strong. You have developed some very unsightly eyebags, and you’ve replaced your carrot sticks with potato chips. In a nutshell, you are stressed. Have no fear, though, because there are ways to combat this and make the rest of the semester bearable.
Identify the Signs.
Different people have different stress signals. Binge eating, irritability, acne, weight gain and insomnia are just a few examples. For some people, the signs may not be obvious, but if you pay enough attention to your body, you’ll know when something’s not right. When you figure out your body’s stress signals, it’ll be easier to know what action to take.
Start Saying No.
A lot of us are stressed because we bite more than we can chew. We don’t want to disappoint others, so we agree to do things even when it’s clear that we’re burned out. Granted, it’s not always possible to avoid the outside influences that stress us out, but if these influences can be avoided, then do just that. Don’t let anyone guilt trip you into volunteering for something, especially when you have enough on your plate. Say “no”, and focus on things that need your attention, like your mental health.
Take a Break and do things You Enjoy.
It’s easy to lose yourself in the chaotic world of school papers and work shifts, but you don’t want to get to a point where you have a breakdown. Once it becomes apparent that you’re getting stressed out, just take a day off. Go to the park for some fresh air, take a walk, or just sit at home and watch cartoons. Write in your journal, draw, bake, or just cuddle up with the people that bring light to your day. If you can help it, avoid social media for that day as well.
Eat Well and Exercise.
I know, easier said than done. A cookie will always be more appealing than an avocado toast. But a junk food diet will only do more harm than good, especially when you’re already going through stress. You don’t have to count calories or become a kale and protein shake enthusiast, but a few fruits, vegetables, and nutrient dense foods can make a lot of difference. Also reduce your alcohol, tobacco and caffeine intake. While you’re at it, don’t forget to stay active. Swimming, walking, and yoga are my favourite stress relievers.
Dim the lights, run a bath, light some scented candles, and put on some soothing music. While you’re in the tub, don’t forget to engage in some breathing exercises. Or you can get a massage, cuddle up with your partner or your dog or your fuzzy blanket, and sip some herbal tea. Trust me, I’ve done all of these a few times, and it never gets old!