Are you stressed out right now? Due to the multitude of responsibilities and pressures undergraduate students face each day, the answer is more than likely yes. Stress is such a widespread issue among students, that “being stressed” has evolved from a state of mind to a constant feeling. I’ve found that more and more often a “How are you?” in the hall is met with forced smile and compulsory, “I’m fine, just stressed.” With midterms rapidly approaching, this problem will only intensify in the coming weeks. With that in mind, here are several easy and natural remedies for stress to help you through Week 5 and beyond.
1. Take a breath.
From personal experience, simply taking a deep breath can do a world of good. Something about momentarily forgetting about everything else and concentrating on just inhaling and exhaling can genuinely clear your mind and relax your nerves. If you want to go the extra mile, close your eyes and try the popular 4-7-8 breath pattern. Inhale through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven and exhale out through your mouth for eight. I just did it and I already feel better. Seriously.
2. Go outside.
Sitting in Green Library or your dorm room for hours on end will undoubtedly make you a little stir-crazy. Taking a break and taking a quick walk outside will help you unwind and likely make you more productive in the long run. Walk to Coupa and grab a coffee, or relocate your studying to the outdoors. I highly recommend the terrace at the Law Library. Studying in the fresh air will likely be more enjoyable and may even keep you more alert.
You probably know that exercise releases endorphins which helps you de-stress by boosting both your mood and focus. Exercise also increases blood flow all around your body, including to your brain, which is also why a short run or workout will leave you better prepared for your homework in the long run. Whenever I’m procrastinating or struggling to be productive, taking a short break to break a sweat makes me 100 times more efficient once I get back into it.
4. Drink tea.
Whenever I’m beyond stressed, a warm cup of tea helps me calm down without fail. Chamomile, mint and lavender are aromas that apparently help combat stress most effectively, although any cup of tea does the trick for me. Especially as it gets a bit brisker at night, tea is the way to go.
Whether I write a list of goals or just vent about my most recent worries, putting thoughts to paper can be as therapeutic as talking problems out with a friend. I’ve written in journals since I was little, and I can’t imagine not having an outlet that’s always available when I need it.
Although I personally don’t have extensive experience with meditation, several people I know swear by it, and its popularity is definitely on the rise. It can be difficult to find the time, but even five minutes of clearing my thoughts helps me relax as I push my worries out of my consciousness. There’re also countless free apps for guided meditation that make beginning a lot less formidable.
Sadly, using these methods definitely has not eliminated all stress from my life. Little ways to alleviate tension can, however, make more of a difference than you even realize. I have found that taking a couple moments to slow down and address the tension in my life has undoubtedly improved my state of mind in the long run.
Contact Elizabeth Dunn at eldunn14 ‘at’ stanford.edu.