It’s the end of the semester and everything comes at once: papers are due, exams are coming up, and final assignments must be turned in. It can be easy to become stressed out, to feel tense, and to focus on the tasks at hand while ignoring your own well-being. However, it’s important to manage stress during these tough times so that you stay healthy and are successful in your studies.
The consequences of ignoring stress can make a difficult situation worse. Too much stress can manifest itself with physical symptoms. Long- and short-term stress can result in headaches, low energy, insomnia, and colds or infections, among other things. Mentally, stress can cause people to become forgetful, make it difficult to focus, and can result in poor judgement. Therefore, it is incredibly important to manage stress while studying.
During stressful seasons of life, it is important to get regular exercise. According to the doctors at the Mayo Clinic, exercise increases endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are neurotransmitters–brain chemicals that spark good feelings. Physical exercise also helps the body regulate itself, meaning that it can help improve sleep and can mitigate some of the negative symptoms of stress. While it may be difficult to justify putting down the books for a 30 minute bike ride, the exercise can actually help make you be more productive, more focused, and feel less on edge. Some tips for making sure you follow through: put it on your calendar and do activities you find enjoyable.
2. Meditation and Yoga
Another way to reduce stress is by taking part in yoga or meditation. While these may sound foreign to those who have not done them before, these practices help people find an inner calm and, according to researchers at the Mayo Clinic, they can result in fewer negative emotions and more self awareness. Meditation can be as simple as closing your eyes and repeating a calming word (a mantra) to yourself. Meditation can be done anywhere without any special equipment. Yoga combines meditation with physical movement. People who practice yoga move their body into different postures and focus on breathing. These two practices have been scientifically shown to reduce stress. Again, to follow through, make sure you schedule some time to meditate or practice yoga.
Believe it or not, art can be a productive way to manage stress! Drawing, coloring, painting, music and other types of art can serve as a welcome distraction for stressed students. Art, like meditation, can also help individuals get into a “flow,” where they are not thinking about all the studying and assignments they need to do. Rather, their brain is engaged in the art at hand. Finding an adult coloring book or a blank canvas can help distract stress students and improve their mood. Music affects our subconscious by reducing negative thoughts and instantaneously shifts our mood. Life with music is happiness. Just follow your heart, listen to your favorite music and enjoy. Rise with music, dance with music or play with music (if you play any instrument). Alpha Isochronic tones are also helpful. As with exercise, find an activity you like and stick with it.
Eat! Like art and meditation, food can help reduce study stress. Not just any foods will help manage stress, however. It is important to eat foods that won’t leave you feeling regretful later on. Raspberries, avocados, cashews, blueberries, oatmeal, oranges, and walnuts will all provide you with energy and help you focus on that paper you need to write. Additionally, dark chocolate has healthy antioxidants that can lower one’s blood pressure and result in a feeling of calm. As far as drinks, chamomile and green teas have been shown to help spread a feeling of calm and enhance mental performance, as well.
Finally, planning your study routine can help you beat the stress of finals, essays, and assignments. Ask yourself first: “How long do I need to study for that final?” or “How long will writing that essay take me?” Once you have a good idea of how long you’ll need, put it in a planner, physical calendar, or electronic calendar and stick to it. Be sure to build in some extra time in case your homework ends up taking longer than you had expected. Be sure to pencil in some time to practice the stress-reducing strategies listed above.
With exams to take, essays to write, and assignments to complete, it can be easy to become overwhelmed with stress. However, exercising, practicing meditation or yoga, doing art, eating stress-reducing foods, and planning your routine can all help manage negative emotions. So when you feel overwhelmed by stress, pick up an adult coloring book, listen to some music or go for a run. That essay can wait.