If you’re like me, you love being in school, but you hate what it does to you. Getting coffee, going to class, and being completely enveloped in college life is exciting, but the inevitability of tests, papers, and projects can turn you into a raging…excuse my French…bitch.
There’s no way to completely avoid stress; stress is something that everyone has to deal with and we all cope differently. Some binge eat (I’m notorious for midnight food adventures right in the middle of homework…), others take it out at the gym, and some (like my incredibly tidy roommate) clean.
And while I may not have all the answers, I’ve been going to school long enough to know what works for avoiding stress…and what doesn’t. Here are some of my favorites.
Do something that makes you feel like a kid. My favorite is swinging. It sounds a little silly, but we are still kids. We’re not the same nose-picking, thumb sucking, freeze-tag playing kids we once were, but it’s important to hold on to some aspect of youth; it will help you calm down and remember the days when you didn’t know what homework was. My roommate freshman year had a blanket that she always ran between her fingers to calm her down. A few of my friends do Disney movie marathons. Anything. You want to skip down the street with a Ring Pop? Go for it.
Make a playlist. This is always my solution to everything, but it’s because it applies to so many different situations. Just got dumped? Make a break-up playlist (sometimes those are the best…especially when they’re thick with angry girl music). You need some tunes for the gym? Make a playlist. I have a playlist specifically for when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Although I have some male vocals on my mix, female vocals seem to be more effective when calming me down. Here are a few:
• Dream: Priscilla Ahn
• Cloud Nine: Ben Howard
• Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay: Otis Redding
• Peace Train: Cat Stevens
• January Song: Catherine MacLellan
• River: Joni Mitchell
• Carolina: M.Ward
Run. I know some of you are rolling your eyes right now because you’ve heard it before. There’s a reason you’ve heard it before; it works. Some of you hate running, I get that. If it hasn’t worked for you in the past, consider approaching it in a different way. Running can be the most relaxing escape if you give it a fair chance. And I’m going to be honest…it’s not going to be right away. You’re going to hate it when you first start. You might hate it for the first couple months, but eventually it will become your best friend. Running gives you an opportunity to sort through the things going on in your life, no matter how big or small they may seem.
Call your parents. Not only will they love hearing from you (they miss you…and they’re worried…college can be a scary concept for some), but it can really help you feel better as well. My parents always have a way of putting things into perspective. Whenever I call my dad about a paper I’m writing, he always says the same thing: “Everything will work out; you always make it work.” It was something so simple, something I could have easily told myself, yet somehow, hearing it from my dad made me really believe it. They’re so good at calming you down because they’ve seen you stressed out before. When you call, don’t forget to tell them you love them.
Sing in the shower…at the top of your lungs. If you’re living in the dorms, this will prove to be difficult and I don’t necessarily advise you to follow through if you’re feeling the urge…but all others should try it. Take the world off your shoulders for ten minutes and belt out “Shake It Out.” It’s always darkest before the dawn, right?
Find a guilty pleasure. It’s important to have things that are just for you, things that give you a break from all the sophistications of college. I have a couple…Sarah Dessen books and Awkward, a ridiculous teen comedy on MTV.
I know it’s hard sometimes; there’s a lot riding on this whole college thing. Just remember that you can do it. If you put the effort in, reward yourself properly, and take care of your health, you will be just fine. Always, always, always…hang in there.