Beginning a new semester after three months is always difficult and it’s even more difficult to get out of the warm sanctuary of your down comforter before noon to head to class. Without any sense of mercy, professors always throw in loads of readings, essays, and problem sets on the first day of classes, leaving students swamped with work even before they get a chance to reunite with their friends. Stress always follows closely behind an overwhelming amount of work and it ends up piling up to result in self-destructive behaviors, such as binge eating, excessive partying, and substance abuse as a source of escape from reality, which can lead to depression. But there are other ways to release stress without damaging your body; here are some healthy ways to manage stress:
1. Don’t Procrastinate
Sounds cliché, right? Even though you’ve probably heard this repeatedly throughout junior high and high school, this is the best way to avoid feeling stressed and pressed for time to complete your assignments. When completed early and on time, the gratification of being freed from work ultimately rewards you with abundant free time and more sleep –something all college students claim that they are deprived of. Some of you may say that you focus better when you’re in a tight deadline; however, research done by Bruce Tuckerman, a professor at Ohio State University, states that this is merely “wishful thinking” and an excuse to justify the lack of one’s self-control and will-power. (http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/procrast.htm)
2. Absorb Nature
Studies done by researchers at the University of Washington have proved that looking at nature helps lower the tension and heart-rate of people. After gathering 90 students and giving them various tasks, students who were placed in front of a window with a view of the natural environment have had their heart rates drop to normal the quickest. If viewing nature can decrease the stress-inducing tension within a person, imagine how much of a stress-relief you can get by physically absorbing what nature has to offer you by going outside!
3. Eat Right
Stressful times often lead to poor, unbalanced diets that ultimately provide no nutrient benefits. Because stress leaves students feeling as if they have no time to prepare a healthy meal, they opt for fast-food meals and junk food to satisfy their hunger. However, foods that contain high levels of salt, sugar, and fat easily increase stress levels and are found to be detrimental to our health. Even coffee, the number one necessity for college students, increases stress levels if taken excessively. Women’s magazine, Marie Claire, has created a list of healthy foods that help reduce stress when taken in moderation. Foods that contain high levels of vitamins and minerals, such as dried apricots, salmon, and avocado have been proven to help people maintain their bodily balance.
Following these tips should help any overworked and overstressed college student manage stress while improving themselves physically as they start the upcoming semester.
For more ways to release stress, try taking a break with karaoke and sing your lungs out – this is one of my favorite things to do when I’m under a lot of pressure!
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