For many high school seniors, the run up to college seems like the final stretch but the truth is, that last day of high school is really just the beginning. College level classes, homework, writing essays, papers, friendships and social life all equates to college level stress. Luckily there are some easy tips and tricks to help relieve stress even when your free time shrinks to nearly nothing. These 20 tips will help keep you calm, cool, collected and collegiate.
The simplest stress buster is also one of the most effective. Breathing exercises can help lower your blood pressure, focus your through and clear your mind. Even a simple and quick breathing exercise can bring immediate help. For a quick break to recharge your batteries and calm your nerves, try this easy breathing exercise.
- Sit down comfortably in a chair or a position where your back is fully supported.
- Close your eyes.
- Breathe in slowly through your nose. Take a deep, slow breath and focus on the sensation of your lungs filling with clean air.
- Hold your breath for the count of two.
- Slowly exhale through the mouth by blowing the air out.
- Repeat 5 times.
You can do this exercise anytime, anywhere and you can do it as many times as you want. You’ll start to feel the difference it makes after the first or second breath and a full set of 5 (or, better yet, 10) will provide noticeable improvement in even the most stressful situations.
2. Keep it in Perspective
One of the ways stress can really build is by letting your perception make things into a bigger deal than they actually are. When you start to feel like it’s all becoming too much to handle, take a step back and re-examine the situation. It can help to talk to a friend, a family member or even your childhood teddy bear. Just talking about what’s going on has a way of putting things in perspective.
3. Go To Your Happy Place
Keep some pictures on your phone in a special folder or favorites section so you can find them easily. Looking at photos that remind you of good time releases dopamine, a natural mood enhancement hormone that boosts your mood and cuts your stress.
4. The Pen is Mightier â€¦
Much like talking, writing a personal essay or simply describing your emotions can help put things in perspective and reduce stress levels. Whether you write in a journal, a notebook or simply on whatever paper is handy, just writing it down can help you problem solve more effectively and lower your stress levels.
Meditation is often used in conjunction with breathing exercises in order to relax. Meditation can involve focusing on a positive mantra or simply breathing and focusing on clearing and settling your mind.
6. Guided Imagery
Using guided imagery can be a form of mediation or self-hypnosis. Many online companies as well as music and book stores carry CDs and MP3 collections of various guided imagery programs. Some are written to help with specific problems such as weight loss or smoking cessation while others are written for more general relaxation or stress reduction.
7. Keep Moving
Regular exercise can help with all sort of physical and mental issues â€“ including stress. A simple walk through campus or, better yet, through a park or nature preserve can have an immediate mood lifting, stress-busting effect.
8. Crank up the Music
Research has found that music can help patients in the hospital heal more quickly and be motivated to perform better when it comes to physical therapy. So put that playlist on your MP3 player, smartphone or computer to good use and crank it up to bust through stress and energize your internal batteries.
9. Get Away From the Drama
Drama has a way of feeding on itself. When you find yourself in the middle of someone else’s drama, take a step back â€“ literally. Come up with an excuse â€“ going to the store, need to make a call or just need to run to the bathroom â€“ and get some perspective.
A full night’s sleep is more than beauty rest. Getting enough sleep can help keep your mind and body in balance. Too little sleep has been linked to everything from heart trouble to depression.
11. Enjoy the Little Things
Instead of pinning your happiness on huge parties, expensive trinkets or other things, be sure to take time out to enjoy the little things. Kick back with a favorite book, watch a kitten video or even just relax and watch the birds, bees, ants and other outdoor animals and insects doing their thing. Sometimes, taking a moment to appreciate what’s already around you can be just what the doctor ordered.
12. Watch What You Eat
A diet high in fast food, greasy chips and other processed foods can lead to a sluggish metabolism, a host of health problems and general lethargy. Make sure you’re eating plenty of fresh fruit and raw veggies for maximum benefit.
13. Set Small, Attainable Goals
When your stress is the result of a massive project or long term goal, be sure to chop it up into easy to deal with pieces. Don’t tackle your term paper as one single lunge â€“ first set goals about books to review, sources to find and notes to take. Chopping the job up makes it easier to deal with and lightens the load.
14. Use Your Support System
When you’re in need of a pick me up, bypass emotional crutches like food, drugs and alcohol and reach out instead for your network of family and friends. Even if you have to contact them only by phone, email or online messaging, taking to time touch base with your personal support system is the best way to gain encouragement, motivation and help through any stressful times.
15. Remind Yourself of Past Success
As you go through a stressful time, take a few moments to remember other challenges or stressful situations you’ve overcome in the past. Reliving those successes will bolster your resolve and may lead to some creative problem solving.
16. Make a Deposit in the Bank of Karma
Doing something nice for someone else is a great way to feel good about yourself. Get involved with local volunteer work or just perform a random act of kindness. A moment spent putting someone else first will easily boost your mood.
17. Take a Dip
Get turned on to the healing properties of water. Swimming in a large pool or simply lounging around in a hot tub can relieve tension, soothe muscles and relax your entire body.
18. Get Organized
Although getting organized can be used as a way to procrastinate, setting time aside to sort out your desk, room or other work space can help reduce stress as you’re working on the tough essay topic.
19. Sit Up Straight!
Just like your Aunt Edna said, posture means perfection. If you’re feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, make sure your posture isn’t telling the tale. Sit or stand up straight or do some quick stretching exercises to help blood flow and energize both your body and mind â€“ surefire stress busters!
20. Take a Break!
Finally, just know when it’s time to take a break! Calling it a day on a massive project or other stressor and getting away from it can be the best way to cut stress. Taking a break also means you’ll be able to approach the problem with a fresh perspective.