A Pocket Guide to Stress Management

Stress Management 101 

Raise your hand if you've found yourselves having a 2 AM crying session with your best friends in the second floor of the library the night before your midterm. Did you try to cram four chapters of material in two nights and found yourself having a Britney Spears 2007 moment like the rest of us? Now that midterm season is coming to an end, it's time to talk business on how to deal with finals and the stress that comes along with this dreadful season that's approaching.  Stress can be shown in a variety of ways, it's a feeling that makes us feel incapable of achieving what's on our to-do lists. For this reason, managing your stress during challenging times plays a pivotal role in maintaining a healthy state of mind throughout testing. Here are a few methods to reduce stress and make this dreadful season a bit more manageable:

  1. The box-breathing method 

I've been told many times to take a deep breath and relax when I'm under some sort of anxiety, including stress, however I was never told that the pace we breathe is a large contributor to achieving a relaxed body and brain. If we learn to control our breathing in a way in which our whole body and mind returns to a collective state, our stress can be reduced in a matter of 10 minutes! The box breathing method is a method I happened to run across on my Twitter timeline and it's one of the best findings I've encountered on social media. See, this method breaths along with you, tells you when to inhale, exhale, hold, etc. Not only can this method be used as a stress reliever but it's also a great method to improve performance and concentration skills!

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   2. Physical activity 

A great method to reduce stress levels is maintaining an active lifestyle.  Though making time to go to the gym or track might be dreadful, physical activity produces endorphins in the body which actually act as natural painkillers, reducing ongoing stress. Engaging in physical activity as a method to reduce stress doesn't necessarily mean running a mile everyday (though for some, it might!), it means being active throughout the day, taking walks on the beach, or walks down DP to get the body moving and active. Let's take advantage of our beautiful campus while we can!

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   3. Avoid caffeine 

I'm guilty of drowning myself in coffee and other energy beverages to aid me in staying awake during these all-nighters. But did you know caffeine, in general, actually heightens these feelings of stress? See, caffeine will not only keep you awake and prevent you from getting a good night's rest, but it'll also result in anxiety for individuals who suffer from anxiety and heighten existing anxiety. Caffeine does help aid in providing energy, however it's detrimental to the body! 

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     4. Promote Self-Care, increase sleeping hours! 

As a UC student in the quarter system, the pace is so fast, we miss one lecture and find ourselves behind on five readings! Often times I hear that us UCSB students go hard during midterms and finals season and I can agree as I have myself experienced a full library at 3 AM during dead week and finals. I admit, studying for important tests for as many hours as possible the night before seems like one of the only routes to take. However, as someone who used to pull all nighters her first year, I can assure you that studying days before and sleeping at a decent hour made all the difference. Promotion of sleep is pivotal to one's mental and physical well being, it helps us be awake and embodies a feeling of confidence towards ourselves.  Sleeping to avoid stress allows our bodies to decrease the levels of stress hormones; whereas not getting enough sleep boosts our body's level of stress hormones. Some highly effective ways to fall asleep and improve sleep time include: steering away from screens an hour before (yes, that includes Twitter and Netflix), drinking chamomile tea, reading your favorite books, listening to Mariah Carey's Christmas album (yes, it's that time of year) and bathing in warm water to relax your body. Self-care during midterms and finals makes all the difference towards our stress management. So, remember to prioritize your mental and physical health in order to achieve great things! 

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