The best ways to relieve stress the semester

It’s that time of year again. The spring semester is in full swing, and the warm fuzzy feelings left over from the holidays have fizzled out to make room for the dread that has begun to settle in the pits of our stomachs.

The pressure is on, and we are faced with the impossible task of maintaining a healthy balance between school, work, and friends. In order to stay relatively sane during this stressful time, it’s important to develop healthy habits that help us unwind or de-stress. Not all of these rituals work for everyone, so it’s important to find what works for you.

Firstly, you’ve got to get some sleep. This one may seem obvious, but it might be the most important advice there is. According to research at Brown University, 73 per cent of university students claim to have sleeping problems. Though most of us know the importance of a good night’s sleep, many are not achieving the rest we need in order to excel in our daily lives.

If you have trouble sleeping, my advice would be to avoid your cell phone and other technology 30 minutes before bed. The light from these devices inhibits melatonin production in the body, which is a hormone that regulates your internal clock. Another way to score a good night’s sleep is to maintain a semi-consistent sleep schedule. Try going to sleep and waking up around the same time every day. This allows your brain to know when to release the right hormones that either wake you up or make you feel sleepy.

Now, sleep is extremely important, but there always will be times in the semester when the mere thought of a good night’s sleep seems laughable. I’m talking about the times when you have several assignments due, a couple midterms in the near future, and a boss who just asked you to take a few extra shifts at the coffee shop.

Go for a run, walk around the park, or drive to the nearest Dairy Queen and order a Blizzard.

When things begin to seem overwhelming, it’s helpful to take a break and, in the words of Taylor Swift, “shake it off.” Go for a run, walk around the park, or drive to the nearest Dairy Queen and order a Blizzard. To momentarily create distance between you and your problems often puts things into perspective, and allows you to deal with your stress more objectively.

Another way to feel better is to let out all your pent-up emotions. That’s right: remember, it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to call a friend to vent about how stressed you are. It’s okay to do both simultaneously. Give yourself a few minutes to be upset, and then pull yourself together to figure out an action plan for getting back on track.

Finally, it’s important to schedule routinised personal time. Even if it’s only for a couple of hours a week, make sure to fit in some consistent downtime for yourself. Whether you enjoy reading, watching Netflix, going for long runs, or having a drink with friends, allow time to relax and enjoy yourself. Scheduled downtime is different from procrastinating — it’s an allotted time you’ve dedicated to an activity of your choice, not a distraction you’ve spontaneously indulged in.

While this all might seem like common sense, I find it’s helpful to be reminded every now and then. Oftentimes, students become so stressed while consumed with important tasks that the solutions for escape lay forgotten. In that respect, I hope these suggestions help you during this busy semester, and remind you that we are only human — we all need to unwind at some point.