It’s the same deal every semester when we first get back to school – syllabus week is super-easy, we’re excited to be back with good friends and we’re motivated to do well in class. It’s not until we’ve really settled into our schedules that the stress starts creeping in. Before you know it, you have two exams in one week, a group project that you’re pulling the weight of and a presentation you haven’t yet prepared for. The work is inevitable, but you don’t have to let the stress get the best of you. Take some time out of your day to just relax. You deserve it. And to be perfectly honest, you should always have YOU time no matter how many responsibilities you have.
So put that textbook down for a bit and try out some of these quick and easy relaxation techniques. When you do get back to your work, you’ll feel way more energized and productive.
Meditation isn’t just for monks and yogis. It also doesn’t have to be really long or spiritual. Meditation improves concentration and attention, reduces anxiety and increases happiness. So why wouldn’t everyone want to try it? Even if you just take 5 or 10 minutes per day to meditate, you’ll be able to see the benefits.
So what exactly is meditation?
Meditation is simply taking your attention and focusing it on one thing, such as a breathing pattern or a mantra. This allows us to clear our minds of stress and worries so we can achieve a peaceful and completely relaxed state of mind. When we train ourselves to reach this state of mind, we can carry the benefits with us throughout our day.
To begin: sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and focus internally on your breathing or a mantra (which can be as simple as one word). If you find your mind drifting, don’t let that deter you from continuing. Just continue refocusing your attention internally.
Once you get used to meditating, you can add more time into your meditations or look into different methods. There are also plenty of guided meditations out there if that’s more your style.
You may have seen adult coloring books popping up in stores all over. There’s a reason for this – and it’s not because we refuse to grow up! Similar to meditation, coloring helps us focus our thoughts away from stress and negativity. Between tests and projects, it can sometimes be hard controlling the nagging intrusive thoughts we experience about our insanely busy lives. Coloring is such a simple and effortless task, but it’s enough of a task that our minds are no longer constantly drifting to that exam we just took. Adult coloring books can be found all over, and they’re also available in an app.
Put those headphones in and listen to some… comedy? That’s right! Often times we relax and unwind by listening to music – and that’s great! But listening to something that makes you laugh is another great option for busting stress. Laughing actually reduces your brain’s levels of cortisol, which is also known as a “the stress hormone.” So, spending your study breaks searching YouTube for some funny content is actually really relaxing.
Taking a walk has many of the same benefits as meditation, but it’s a great alternative for those of us that have trouble sitting still. Physical activity reduces fatigue and improves alertness and concentration. It also improves sleep and self esteem – which is helpful for stress as well! Taking a walk around campus or hitting up the rec center for a few laps around the track are great mental breaks for relaxing during stressful days.
If the weather is nice and you have some friends around, grab them for a nature walk. Combining exercise with nature and good friends is the golden combination. According to a study from The University of Michigan, group nature walks may improve your daily positive emotions and decrease your perceived stress.
We want to know – How do you manage your stress throughout the semester? Tweet us and let us know!