BY AMANDA COHEN
School is stressful. It doesn’t matter if you are a freshman taking 16 credits or a second-semester senior taking the bare minimum, being in a school environment can be tough and — for many people — anxiety-provoking.
However, sometimes the most stressful part of school is not having a plan or enough time to actually de-stress. Fortunately, there are many easy ways to cope with stress that don’t take much time. Here are some ideas:
Go for a Walk/Jog/Run
Even if you don’t love to exercise, start incorporating cardiovascular exercise into your routine. Walking, jogging or running is a great way to clear your head and can help both your mental and physical health. Even if you just do something for 15 minutes each day, it will make a difference, and I bet you will end up increasing your workout length because you will start to feel the amazing benefits. If you go to a school where it’s warm enough to be outside, then run outdoors. If not, go on the treadmill.
While doing your cardio, either revel in the silence and enjoy the mindlessness of the activity, or listen to an awesome music playlist that puts a smile on your face and/or calms you down.
Remember to take whatever exercise you decide to do at your own pace and go about it in a way that fits into your schedule. Don’t try to work around anyone else’s schedule and exercise plans. Exercising with other people can be great, but sometimes working out alone can be less stressful.
Take a Yoga Class
Yoga is a great activity to do early in the morning or at night right before you go to bed because it helps create a feeling of calm. Practicing yoga combines fitness, focus, and an overall sense of healthy well-being. Often, yoga is offered for free at university gyms, or local yoga studios may have financially manageable class packages so that you don’t have to worry about sacrificing your bank account for the benefit of your mental health.
Classes are offered in a variety of difficulty levels so that you don’t hurt yourself. Plus, even though all classes focus on being present in the moment, some classes will be more focused on introspection while others will be more physically challenging. Pick which class is best for you and try to go regularly if you can!
Do Some Meditation
Meditation has wonderful de-stressing benefits, and it doesn’t take much time out of your day. The art of meditation is simple. You sit straight up, either on the floor or in a chair, close your eyes, and take deep, purposeful breaths. The recommended time for meditation is around 10 minutes, but even 5 minutes of meditation will do wonders for your overall mental well-being.
However, if you are like me and have a hard time meditating on your own, there are apps that you can download on your phone that can help guide you through the meditation process.
Cook Yourself a Meal
In the past, when I was stressed, I thought that ordering lunch and dinner for delivery would help because it would give me more time to attend to other things I needed to do — like homework. However, I found that when I took the time to cook dinner for myself, I felt a lot better and healthier, physically and mentally.
The meal doesn’t have to be an elaborate one. You can check cooking websites to find some easy and quick recipes.
Some simple, go-to meals that take 30 minutes or less are: baked salmon; rotisserie chicken with rice and veggies; pasta and salad; veggie burgers (you can buy these frozen) with frozen sweet potato fries. Cooking will eventually become a part of your routine, and studies show that healthier foods that are cooked at home actually help to create stronger mental health.
I hope these tips were helpful. Don’t forget that you can get help from your support system: family, friends, professors, advisors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and more. However, if your stress continues and you are worried about your mental/psychological well-being, you should go to your local university counseling/mental health center or your local emergency room.
You aren’t alone, and you will get through this!
Amanda Cohen is a student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
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