The Best Ways to Beat Stress

College is rough; balancing a social life, essays, exams, parents and your health can seem impossible at times, especially with finals season coming up (dun-dun-dun). The key to all of this is prioritizing. I know it seems boring and you wish you could do everything at the same time. But to spare your sanity and GPA, some sacrifices need to be made. After you’ve chosen what things you need to be focusing on most, the stress may not have subsided. First of all, that’s okay. Sometimes you need to be overwhelmed and stressed in life—gives you thick skin, kid. But, there’s a point where stress gets the best of us and takes a toll on mental and physical health. That’s when you need to actively put yourself first. With that said, here are the best stress busters for college students:  

1. Tackle the smaller, easier tasks first

Doing things like writing out a schedule or planning out your study day might help things seem less overwhelming. You can clearly plan out how much time you’ll spend on certain things. Sometimes some structure is all you need to bust out productivity.

Some smaller tasks you might want to do before you tackle an essay or a project: short homework questions or readings.

2. Remove yourself from the situation

If you’ve been sitting at your desk for way too long just staring at the screen, break the cycle. Go for a walk around the library or your neighborhood. Listen to a song that really calms you down or hypes you up. Get yourself some food (don’t eat it where you’re trying to study). Change the scenery if you’re sitting in the library, maybe move to a cafe or your own room.

3. Try out a yoga class

My mom has been telling me over and over that I need to take up yoga to de-stress. I roll my eyes when she tells me, but take it from me, it’s a different kind of calm than anything else can give you. Sometimes doing things you know will prepare you to work can actually be motivating for later.

4. Breathe

At times the work piles up, exams are around the corner and you have two hours until the portal closes on your project: aka STRESS. In this case, you need something instantaneous and easy. So breathe. It sounds ridiculous, because is breathing going to write this essay for me? No, probably not, but it will calm your racing heart and clear your head for a second. Breathing in and out slowly for a minute gives you a chance to compose yourself, get your thoughts together and calm your adrenaline. (But hey, don’t leave assignments until the last minute, it doesn't do any good whatsoever.)

5. Cook yourself a decent meal

Ever had those intense study sessions where you completely forget to eat? As productive as those are, your brain won’t do well without fuel. Cooking a filling, nutritious meal will have you satisfied and ready to keep studying for a few more hours. Don’t opt for junk food or greasy takeout; it’s momentary joy and afterwards, you feel sluggish and tired, aka not ideal for being productive.

6. Workout

I know, I know, that’s the last thing you want to be doing when you’ve been holed up in your room all day in sweats, draped in a blanket. But working out can actually help improve your concentration and endorphin levels. Giving yourself an hour or two to work up a sweat, maybe punch out some of the frustration from an assignment, can really help you start fresh. Working out followed by a snack or meal can refuel you for your dreaded study sesh, and you might see some gym guys, that never hurts.

7. Take a hot shower

Hot showers are known to calm anxiety and muscle stress. Allowing yourself a break from work and time for yourself might be just what you need.

8. Remind yourself that GPA isn’t everything

It’s hard, especially with so much pressure on performance and all the competition between schools and students. But at the same time, your mental health is so precious. Don’t let an essay or a slightly lower grade determine your worth, because those things are entirely unrelated. You have so much more to offer than your ability to type a fancy essay. Try to be in the mindset of “I’m doing my best, and that’s okay, that’s enough.”

9. Speak to a professional

Being overly stressed or anxious can be really toxic. If you’re ever feeling so overwhelmed that you don’t know what to do or who to turn to, turn to a professional. There’s no shame in asking for help, we all need it sometimes. The majority of colleges have wellness exchange or mental health programs that you can make use of. Keep in mind those people are there to help you and they really do want to help.

May finals be good to you and may your professors bump your grades from a C- to an A!

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