As school exams and the holidays quickly approach, stress becomes more prevalent. Trying to balance social time with visiting friends and family while trying to studying for final exams can be overwhelming, to say the least. Everyone experiences stress in varying levels but how we react to stress differs. We can let stress consume our thoughts, emotions,and actions, or we can take control of the stress. Below are a few tips I use when I notice how stressed I have been. These tips may or may not work exactly like how they did for me, but they can be worth a shot if you find yourself overloaded with stress.
Tips For Combating Stress:
- Time Management– Managing your time during finals week (and the weeks leading up to it) is key. By allocating time each day to review and practice previous materials you learned during the course of the semester, you can review information without jamming the course of numerous weeks of information into one or two nights before the exam. I prefer reviewing the information I learned at the beginning of class first, because this is often what I have forgotten considering how much time has passed since I last reviewed it. In terms of the holidays, it can be hard to figure out how to spend time with so many family and friends in town. Write down events on your calendar or in your phone, and figure out when you have free time. Maybe host your own holiday party and invite all of your friends and family to come. If that’s not possible, then consider spending a few hours each day or on the weekends with friends and family doing activities you both enjoy.
- Stay Hydrated– Sometimes our headache or stress could be a result of dehydration. I always have a glass of water with me around the house or a water bottle when I’m on the go (whether at school, while shopping for holiday gifts, hanging out with friends, or running other errands). Hydration is so important for our body to function. When you feel stress or a headache beginning, drink a tall glass of water to be hydrated. Especially when we are studying for hours on hours, being hydrated will keep you focused on the task at hand, not how thirsty you are.
- Feed Your Hunger– Just as important as staying hydrated is, so is feeding your hunger with clean, wholesome foods. During finals week, pack snacks that will fuel and satsify you throughout your long tests. Don’t let hunger pains distract you while studying. Try having a snack of apples and peanut butter, or celery and almond butter, grapes and cheese, or dark chocolate and almonds. Packaged foods can be loaded with added sugars, preservatives, flavors, and other far-from-natural ingredients that can cause you to become lazy, tired, or even cause an upset stomach. Don’t ignore your hunger…give yourself foods that will make your body (and brain) happy. During the holidays, watch your portions. There’s nothing wrong with having a treat now and then. I always make the excuse “But this dessert/meal is only served during these holidays…I can have a lot of it if I want to.” However, that simple phrase can cause us to eat way more of a cookie/peppermint bark/eggnog/pumpkin pie etc. just because it’s “in season.” Don’t let yourself get carried away with all the excess treats at this time of year. Allow yourself to indulge, within reason. For example, instead of buying eggnog every week from November- January, allow yourself a few special times to purchase eggnog (such as during Thanksgiving or New Years).
- Light A Candle– I don’t know why but simply lighting a scented candle can create an air of relaxation for me. Scent is an awesome and powerful ability we have. Just smelling a pine scented candle can bring back memories of cutting down Christmas trees in Pennsylvania as a child. Or smelling beach scented candles reminds me of one of my favorite places to go.
- Look At Your Favorite Picture Or Quote- Pictures can provide our minds with the freedom to travel to a certain place or moment in time. I love looking at past photos taken with friends or family or at places I have visited. These photos instantly increase my mood. Even just reading a favorite quote can help me remember my goals I have. By looking at a favorite picture or quote, my stress depletes, and usually instantly!
“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.” – Charles Spurgeon
- Take A Break– There is NOTHING wrong with taking a break. Nothing. There is only so much information you can remember and only so many people you can visit in a short amount of time. How many people have you heard of who have gotten perfect scores on all of the exams they have ever taken? How many places can you be at one time? I cannot study for more than a few hours at a time. Sometimes even one hour, or even 30 minutes of studying is enough to wear me out. In that case, I take a break. Sometimes I don’t get back to studying until the next day, but other times I have allowed myself enough time to relax so that I’m ready to tackle some more studying. When I take a break I find that exercising is helpful to reduce my stress. Sometimes I ride my bike, run, or exercise to yoga or pilates or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) on Youtube but even just a walk outside can really relieve stress for me. Other times, going to a favorite place can help us refocus and de-stress. Sometimes that special place is the park, the beach, or a friend’s house. Whatever it is, remember that breaks are good and important. During the holidays, it’s okay to take sometime to be alone or just be with family. The holiday season should be a time for fun and making memories with loved ones, not as a time that should be rushed.