Ways to Combat Stress

By Molly Scott

If you’re like most Barnard students this week, you are feeling the stress of midterms! Although midterms will end soon, homework and studying are constant in college; therefore it’s important to know how to relieve stress every day. I’ve come up with a few tactics that will help relax your mind and let you come back to your studying with a fresh brain.

You can make it through, gurlfriend!!

Here are some unhealthy ways that students get rid of stress (these are short-term solutions and do not work in the long run):

  • Over and under eating
  • Withdrawing from friends
  • Procrastinating with YouTube videos or computer games
  • Sleeping too much

Instead, try these healthier and effective alternatives:

Take a Break
Get up from your desk, get out of the library, and go outside! There are many places on both Barnard and Columbia’s campus (and off campus!) that are gorgeous. Sit down in a calming and natural area and listen to some relaxing music. After settling in to your calming spot, DO NOT think about your studies. Simply listen to the music and take in your surroundings. Take as long as you need, or until you feel totally refreshed and ready to get back to work.

 “… no matter what amount of work one has, one should always find time for exercise, just as one does for one’s meals. It is my humble opinion that, far from taking away from one’s capacity for work, it adds to it.”
– Gandhi

Set a specific time every day to relax
This may be difficult to figure out at first, but once you devote a set 20-30 minutes to relaxing, your entire day will feel a whole lot better. Setting aside some time specifically for not working could also help beat that nagging tendency to procrastinate when you should be working. During these 20-30 minutes, don’t think about work, just have fun or rest your mind. While your favorite short television shows can work well for a good stress-relief break, just make sure you don’t have access to the rest of the season! Set a timer so that you know when to get back to work, and so that you don’t feel uncomfortable or guilty about your relaxing time.

Exercise is a great stress-buster
Getting your heart rate up releases endorphins, which have been shown to reduce stress. After exercising, you feel great! Try getting your schoolwork done right after working out; you will be in a good mood and feel positive while conquering your studies.

Plan ahead or say “no”
New York City is an amazing place to go to college and is filled with so many fun things to do. But sometimes, when you have to write two papers and study for three midterms, this can be bad. Remember that it’s OK to say “no” if your friends invite you to go out on the night before your French midterm. It might sound like a nice break from your paper, but if you do go, you might end up even more stressed out. Try to make your night out a reward for a long days’ studying, and hopefully you’ll be able to enjoy yourself more in addition to being less stressed in the long-run.

Need quick, in-dorm-room, stress-relief? Here are some easy ways to quickly reduce stress that can be done in your room (or hall):

  • Step away from your desk, sit on your bed or couch, and close your eyes. Imagine your favorite place and make believe you are there and are doing something you enjoy.
  • Enjoy a healthy, but tasty, snack while looking out your window and day-dream (crucial!)
  • Take a break, while doing something productive. Do laundry and while waiting for each load to be done, clean or organize your room. Afterwards, you will feel refreshed doing homework in a clean and organized environment.

Molly is a first year at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing. She is also stressing about midterms, but then again, aren’t we all.

Check HelpGuide.org for more stress-relief tips.

Photo courtesy of Simple Life Habits.

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