With roughly 60,000 thoughts per day running through the human mind, compared to the 7-10 bits of information the mind can handle at a time, its no wonder students get stressed to the max. Life may seem overwhelming when you’re dealing with empty wallet blues and have an avalanche of homework. Believe it or not, there are still ways students can learn to relax given everything on their plate.
While you may not have been going to yoga class this semester, breathing deeply still can help bring more oxygen flow to the brain and relieve tension and stress. When you do quick or shallow breaths before the start of an exam, it does the complete opposite of calming you down and screams that you’re stressed more than ready to kick this exam’s butt. “What I would recommend is people do a guided meditation to start. All you have to do is google it and you’ll come up with thousands of options,” social worker and therapist Crona Airgid said. She also recommends progressive muscle relaxation, which means tightening each muscle group separately for three to five seconds, relaxing them for a few seconds and repeating that process so you can reap the mellow benefits as you calmly take on your stats exam. I’ve recently snuck this in right before an internship job interview, using the deep breathing techniques and blocking all negative thoughts as best I could. It not only calmed me down, but I was more confident which may have resulted in me getting the position.
2. Break up from technology
Students always think they’ve become multitasking masters in college, but we all know this skill just doesn’t exist in the real world. While updating your Facebook status, checking your email and listening to a YouTube video as you write an essay happens often, it will stress you out like no other. I’ve noticed that half my stress directly correlates with juggling too many different things at once. Airgid notes that even some companies, such as Black and Decker, require their employees to stop working and turn off their technology completely for 15 minutes, calling it a “peaceful pause.” “That’s so they will have higher productivity and less sick days. You know when big companies are doing it, they’re not just doing it for fun.” Airgid said.
In other words, chill out before your thoughts ruin something that could’ve been prevented. Cognitive behavioral therapy shows that thoughts affect someone’s feelings, which then affects people’s behaviors. The first time I went through college, I lived away from home in an entirely new city knowing absolutely no one. The classes were tough, the homework became mountainous and I felt like I hardly had time to meet other people because of how fast everything got thrown at me. I got so overwhelmed it actually resulted in negative thoughts and me not doing anything productive. Airgid explained that if someone tackles an exam thinking, “I have an exam coming up and it’s okay” you’re left with a feeling that you can handle the exam, and the result of those thoughts and feelings are studying and being better prepared. The physical side of treatment ranges from hypnotherapy, to relaxation and exercise. Taking a few minutes every hour from my computer screen helped me reset my brain to look at my task from a new perspective.
4. Plug in some headphones
Those of you who jam out while studying may actually be on to something. While we don’t recommend listening to Pitbull while studying for your French exam, taking a break with Mr. Wordwide blasting in your ears happens to help you out. The more stressed you are, the less you’ll get done. But taking 10 -15 minutes to run to the beat of Zedd or Disclosure could get your blood pumping and help your mind escape for a few minutes, clearing it enough to get back to the grind. Personally, I like singing the words to Bohemian Rhapsody, it helps not just with de-stressing, but it also puts me in a better mood.
5. Calming foods – no, not comfort foods
After a long day of class and internships, it’s tempting to eat something greasy or sugary to numb your overworked pain. But trust me, I’ve gone down that road once before and finding your way back is a journey itself. Eating comfort foods packed with fat, carbs, sugar and everything else that tastes good, brought down my energy levels and spiked my anxiety. “There are vitamins that people can take to feel reduced stressed, such as vitamins B and C,” Clinical psychologist Dr. Gabriel Talegdy said. Vitamin B1 will protect your body’s immune system like a superhero. Try snacking on sunflower seeds or munching on whole wheat toast with peanut butter to reap those benefits. You may not be on a tropical island, but if you can find strawberries, papayas and cantaloupes lying around, then snacking just got a whole lot more interesting. These healthy options can combat that pulsating sweet tooth throughout the day, but not expand the waistline.