Thursday, March 21, 2013

Take A Minute: De-Stressing In College

College is an exciting, overwhelming, wonderful, miserable, enriching, and overall stressful time.  The first few semesters, there are so many new things to try, and so many new people to meet, many of us begin sacrificing things that are good for us to make time for all of it.  The first things to go are regular eating habits, exercise, and sleep.  It may be all good the first few busy nights, but after a while, the term papers, discussion forums, blog assignments, and 200 pages of reading a night may start to catch up with you.  Stress is inevitable when you are trying to keep up with all of your professors' assignments/expectations for your classes, in addition to any clubs or sports you may be involved in, and your friends and family back home and on campus.  It's important to make sure you enjoy yourself from time to time in order to stay motivated.  Here are a few things you can try:
  •  Keep a schedule.  I know I already talked about this, but I can't stress how much easier your life will get if you make a schedule for yourself and keep to it! 
  • If you keep a schedule, you can make time to do things you want to do instead of always focusing on that growing list of things that have to get done.  Set aside an hour each week to watch your favorite t.v. show.  Get your homework done during the week so that you can go out with your friends Friday night.
  • Yoga- I know this one may seem cliche, but don't knock it until you try it.  Practicing yoga helps you stretch all of the muscles in your body and conditions you to focus on relaxing muscles so you can avoiding pulling and straining in your day to day activities.  It also improves your breathing techniques and encourages you to take time out of your week to purposely put aside all of your stressors so that you can clear your mind and get yourself back to neutral.  Many college campuses offer free fitness classes during the week, and/or are offering a yoga class as a phys. ed. credit.  Check it out!
  • Cardio Exercise-this can be a tricky one to build into a college schedule.  Biologically, one of the best times to exercise would be first thing in the morning, before you get ready for your day because a good cardio workout boosts your endorphins and gets your blood flowing, effectively waking you up and getting your body moving to start your day.  However, if you're anything like me, even if you decide to try this in good conscience, when the alarm goes off in the morning, the extra hour of sleep is too enticing to pass up.  In this case, I would suggest this next strategy: late afternoon.  The next peak time to exercise in your body's natural circadian rhythm is around 3 or 4 in the afternoon.  Depending on the way you schedule your classes each semester, this could be a better strategy for those who dislike mornings (or like/need sleep).  If you have classes in the afternoons, go ahead and wear your gym clothes to your classes and go right after. Just be aware that  any vigorous exercise 3-4 hours before bed can disrupt your sleep, so avoid evening workouts!
  • Get regular sleep!  If your sleep patterns are messed up, you will feel disoriented and will not be able to be as productive as you would be if you were rested.  Most students are sleep deprived and this can hurt your performance in your classes, and also hurts your immune system so you might be more susceptible to getting sick, missing classes, and getting even further behind....see how it snowballs.
***Next time: Food Facts: Balanced Eating in a Dorm