During the grind of the semester, stress can sneak up on you and gradually build up over time. Between classes and extracurriculars, it can become a juggling game of priorities where it’s easy to lose sight of your own needs and wellbeing. Although stress is inevitable, figuring out safe ways to manage it can help you feel better in the long run.
Everybody’s situation is different, but at the end of the day we all have things that cause us stress. Much like differences in the root of our stress, the ways in which we choose to cope with it may also look different based on individual interests and needs. I will present my current situation and describe the methods that help me, and hopefully you can relate and take certain bits and pieces to help you manage your own stress during the upcoming semester.
I am a chemistry major and a graphic design minor who commutes 30 minutes to campus four days a week. I am currently taking five classes and conducting faculty research. I am involved with a fraternity on campus, and participate in other extracurriculars. On the one free day of my schedule that I don’t have to drive to campus, I work at my internships. My plate is full, probably overflowing, and staying organized is key to managing such a hectic schedule.
Destressing in my free time on the weekends and in between classes has helped me a lot. In the mornings, I will sit and do a guided meditation when I can. There are many you can find and listen to for free online. Even short ones that are just five minutes long can help you ground yourself and give you a chance to relax before you start your day. I have also done them when I get home after a long day as a way to reflect on how my day went.
I also try to incorporate journaling when I have the chance. Whether writing affirmations in the morning or reflecting on your day at night, I have found that it provides a safe space to express how I am feeling and release any worries or pent up stress.
Listening to music for enjoyment can also be a great method to destress, especially anything relaxing or acoustic. As someone who values music, integrating some time to simply enjoy a couple songs is a great method to destress.
Although not for everybody, I found that going to the gym and working out a couple days a week is a great way to focus on myself. I have been going regularly for the past few months and it has helped me tremendously. However, I understand that it is not for everybody and can sometimes seem like an intimidating environment when it’s not something you’re used to. Even some minor physical activity can be beneficial, such as taking a short walk while listening to music or a podcast.
Another method that has helped me relieve pent up stress is reading books. Much like going to the gym, this one might not be for everybody. Even just taking a moment to read something fun can distract you and take your mind off of other things that might be stressing you out.
The key to any of these de-stressing methods is to always make time for yourself in your schedule. No matter how busy you are, you should make it a priority to set time aside for something that makes you happy and relaxed. Otherwise, the stress is inevitably going to catch up to you.
The methods I mentioned may not be your cup of tea, but there are small actions I do that release any sense of strain I experience from the weight of the semester on my shoulders. Stress is always going to be present in your life in some capacity, but how you choose to manage it is what makes a difference.