So it has come, the end of Spring Term 2017. Next week is finals week, and I’m pretty sure most students are feeling the churning stress of passing or failing classes due to one final assignment.
(I do have to say though, you could have avoided this stress by taking care of your priorities and doing work on time. I understand: things get in the way, you’re a busy person, you might have a kid, three jobs, and several debts to pay!)
I am no stranger to stress due to procrastination, probably one of the biggest student stressors out there. It’s easy to put things off and say “I’ll do it tomorrow” and suddenly that “tomorrow” is the day before an assignment is due. It may help to plan out your goals, priorities, and other activities in advance, in writing or on your phone. It could help you realize a deadline is fast approaching.
Just know, there are ways to cope with this stress, and you will get through it.
Let’s check out some of the ways I’ve found that can greatly help.
Here at the Advocate, throughout the year we have had little de-stressing habits around the office. During every week’s production we play music, which lightens the mood. Somebody has a potted plant by their computer, which they tend to dearly. Somebody has bubbles, which are so fun to look at and interact with. All the editors were gifted fidget toys from our editor-in-chief, Gloria Saepharn (THANK YOU!). We all share hilarious online videos with each other, have inside jokes, and bond while playing card games or Dance Dance Revolution through YouTube videos. Sometimes, my good friend Prisma and I just go outside and sit in the sun for a few moments to help de-stress.
In my nine months here at the Advocate I have come to know its members, and consider them my friends. Being a part of this team helped me realize that it’s okay to have some fun every once in a while with people you care about; it really helps me, and could help you decompress from the stress.
Give yourself a break
There are so many little ways to take a break from the high-strung state your mind is in. Sometimes, you just have to decide whether or not the thing you’re stressing over is worth so much worry. Yes, priorities are important, but sometimes overstressing can do more harm than good; it can even hinder further productivity.
In your rush of last-minute studying, I eagerly suggest you take a little breather. It is said that you absorb more information in the first and last 15 minutes of studying, and that it’s more beneficial to take in small chunks of information at a time.
Between those small chunks, stretch a little, maybe do a yoga pose. Stand up and move around to get your blood flowing.
There is even anatomical evidence linking motor control, mostly found in the cerebellum, located in the back of the brain, which is about the size of a small fist and takes up one-tenth of the brain by volume, and also contains nearly half of the brain’s neurons. This same part of the brain, the cerebellum, not only processes movement, but also processes learning, specifically involving memory, attention, and special perception. Isn’t that fascinating! In sum, movement and learning are tied together.
(For more, see http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/104013/chapters/Movement-and-Learning.aspx)
Take a deep breath
I personally find that an intense workout really helps me gain more energy during my midday energy slump. This might also be the case for you. Also, thanks to my Pilates class this term, I’ve really learned the importance of deep breathing and stretching my body.
Breathing, in itself, is a quick and easy way to get yourself mellow and centered. Shallow breathing is a problem I have had for a long time, and it’s a hard habit to break. By not breathing in deeply, I am not allowing the full exchange of oxygen in my lungs, which can make me – or anyone else – feel short of breath and anxious. There are countless exercises and even meditations online you can look up to try this out, or you can sit calmly and blow some bubbles, or sing a song!
Other methods to de-stress include coloring, drawing (maybe even break out some sidewalk chalk on a sunny day), and indulging in some yummy food to enliven your taste buds. One of my favorite things to do to just turn off my brain is to look at some slime or paint mixing videos on Instagram. They are so mesmerizing to me!
Keep in mind, though, that being on your phone can contribute to procrastination. And internet use is addictive, so it takes discipline to get back to work. This can be the case with any break activity.
Help is nearby
Stress isn’t just brought on by final exams, though. You might be feeling depressed, lonely or anxious. I know these mental illnesses can be hard to cope with at times; I am personally working through my own habits and cycles. I strongly encourage any of you feeling emotionally overwhelmed to go talk to the counselors here on campus. They’re here to help, and you’re not alone.
One other great thing that can be beneficial in times of stress is to turn to people you know and care about. Show some gratitude, tell people you appreciate them, reflect on how far you’ve come and how many goals you accomplished this year.
Take some deep breaths, and keep working hard, but remember to take care of yourself. You’re almost done.