1. Exercise and eat.
Studies have shown that exercising can help reduce stress and improve cognitive function. Taking a quick jog or doing a couple push-ups not only keeps you fit, but it also helps re-energize you. In addition to this, those who eat breakfast tend to perform better throughout the day. Taking a quick break from your studies, exercising for five minutes (for example, stretching, going for a quick jog, lifting weights or doing yoga) and having a quick snack (such as a granola bar, trail mix, an apple or yogurt) may make you more alert and refreshed and ready to tackle that 10,000-word essay!
2. Be organized.
Sometimes you get extremely overwhelmed because there is so much to do and it’s hard to keep track of it all and, as a result, you burst into tears. It’s OK to feel that way and it is definitely OK to cry about it. If you feel this way, it might be helpful to write a list of everything you have to do or make a calendar and schedule you time (and decorate it with sparkles and stickers). If you prefer, you can also use an app (most phones come with a built in planner/calendar or one can be found for free on the App Store/Google Play Store). Planning things out might make tasks more manageable; plus, by doing so, you can be comforted by the fact that you know you have set time aside to complete a task. By the way, try to stick firmly to the schedule, but don’t panic if you find that something is taking more time than you thought it would — just remake your schedule to accommodate the change in plans.
I’m sure you’ve heard it over a dozen times by now, but you need at least eight to nine hours of sleep each night. Try to organize your day so you’re able to get the required amount of sleep; however, if you pull an all-nighter once in a blue moon, that’s OK, just try not to make a habit out of it. It is important to remember that any amount of sleep or resting time you’re able to score is better than nothing. However, when you’re really stressed, it can be hard to sleep sometimes. Although being organized can relive some of that stress, it might not do the trick. If you find that you are chronically unable to fall asleep at night, please see your doctor and ask them about sleeping medication — you need sleep in order to function properly and if you’re not able to get it, doctors can help you explore different options and find a solution. Remember that all stress is temporary and it will pass.
4. Maintain hygiene.
It is important to shower, bathe, moisturize your skin and pamper yourself. Whether you shower in the morning or the evening (or any other time), not only will you look refreshed, but you’ll feel better. Plus, a nice hot bath can help you relax and calm you down. Pro tip: try using aromatic bath products (such as bath bombs and bubbles) and baking soda can make your skin feel smoother. Having a good hygiene routine will also help protect your body against germs and getting sick. On a similar note, when you are studying, make sure you plan bathroom breaks!
5. Drink tea.
Drinking tea helps you stay hydrated and warm while working. However, try to aim for caffeine-free tea, so you’re not bouncing off the walls at 1 a.m. and planning an entire novel at 4 a.m. (me, most nights — I still need to learn to follow my own advice, clearly). Teas come in all sorts of flavors: fruity teas, peppermint teas, black teas, licorice teas, nutty teas, chocolate teas, green teas, etc. You’re bound to find a flavor you enjoy. If you’re looking for a tea that will calm you and help put you to sleep after a long day, camomile is the way to go. If you’re looking for a tea that will sooth an unsettled stomach, try ginger, lemon or peppermint (peppermint tea can also wake you up). If you feel like something sweet, but don’t want to open up a bag of candy for fear of sticky fingers, try a fruity tea (like, blueberry or raspberry lemonade).
6. Listen to music.
Listening to music can be particularly helpful if you live on a busy street or have a rowdy neighbor or roommate. There are tons of playlists and mixes you can find through apps or websites like Songza and 8tracks. Through these sites you can also make and publish your own playlists. Some songs or sounds can motivate you, while others can put you to sleep; regardless, you can find a whole whack of sounds to suit your activity (just don’t get too lost in the tune). For those who prefer to work in absolute quiet, earplugs can help block out distracting noises.
7. Buy scents and/or candles.
There are many products available that are dedicated toward making your indoor environment suite the needs of your nose. Products such as Scentsy Pots, incense and candles (if you’re allowed candles in your dorm) can help make your dorm or apartment smell like a freshly baked apple pie, a tropical forest or a field of flowers. Your nose is also your strongest sense so matching certain scents with an exam topic might actually help you study better. Plus, it’s always nice to work in an environment that doesn’t constantly smell like the 14 cups of coffee you drank to stay awake that one time. In order to stay safe and prevent a fire, make sure you don’t fall asleep before you blow or snuff out your candle. Also, some scents are stronger than others so be sure to pick scents that won’t annoy you (if you don’t like strawberries because you once ate a strawberry popsicle and threw up, don’t pick a candle labeled “Strawberry Shortcake” — rest assured, you will not enjoy it).
8. Talk to people and have a pet and/or a plant.
Talk to your friends and complain to them about your stress (rant to them in all capitals, if you’re conversing with them through texts). They are your friends and they are here to support you through your convoluted mess of a life, and if they are not doing that, find new friends. If talking to people about your stress or personal struggles really isn’t your thing, keep a journal (whether it’s handwritten or typed) and write about your problems. In addition, keep a few plants around because not only do they provide oxygen, but if you yell at them about what professor so-and-so expects you to do, they will simply stand there and take it — plants are great listeners. If you are able to, visit a pet store or animal shelter once in awhile and spend some time with the animals. It’s been proven that animals can help make you happier and reduce stress. Besides, who doesn’t love the melodic purr of a kitten or the sight of a sleeping puppy?
9. Take breaks and do things you enjoy.
Try to cram a couple short breaks into your busy schedule. Work for an hour and then get up and stretch or go grab a tea. Taking short breaks gives you some time to think and rejuvenate. If you’re unable to figure out how to structure a sentence, take a break and do something different (perhaps something you enjoy?). Occasionally, our mind gets stuck and that’s perfectly fine. Remember, you can always come back to something later, as opposed to starring at a screen for half an hour and trying to form that one tricky sentence. If you can, take a half hour or hour break and do something that will stimulate your mind and distract you from the stress (such as playing a video game or doing a word search).
10. If necessary, schedule a mental health day.
Take the day off of work and/or school. Plan at least two or three of these a year. Sometimes it’s helpful to be at home in your pajamas, trying to get as much work done as possible. Another option is to take the day off and have a “cool down” day where you treat and pamper yourself. However, make sure you get caught up on any work you missed — speak with your professors and find a trustworthy person who keeps good notes and copy theirs. Once in awhile, we all need a break so we’re not dying of stress and crying over deadlines. If you take a day off, it doesn’t mean you’re a slacker or a skipper; rather, it means you are being mature and responsible by recognizing that you need time to regroup and recharge. Always remember that caring for yourself is your top priority.
Lead Image Credit: The American Institute of Stress