When I was in college, I was a bit of a nervous wreck. I was an honors student, I was a double major with majors that required a lot of time outside of class (art majors, represent!), I was in multiple Greek organizations, I was president of my co-op, and for the last two years of college, I was also planning a wedding.
I was stressed all the time, yet it wasn’t really until my senior year of college that I realized how that stress was affecting my life. I had gained weight, I wasn’t sleeping well, I felt exhausted all the time, and the quality of the work I was producing was low.
I am by no means a pro at managing my stress– I wasn’t in college and I’m still not now that I’m in the workforce– but these are some of the strategies I use to keep the fire from consuming me completely, so to say.
Make Time for Relaxing Hobbies
Yup, you will have days where you will feel too busy to eat, sleep, or use the bathroom, but making time to do something that you want to do will make it easier to get through a stressful day of things you need to do and remind you that you control your day.
One of the things that kept me sane when I was in college was making myself cook dinner most days, when all I really wanted was ramen and Pop-Tarts. Taking that half an hour to do something good for my body and not think about my deadlines or reading or projects centered me and helped me tackle my evening.
If you’re the kind of person who lives and dies by their personal planner, pencil in time to sketch, read, bake, or do whatever it is that allows you to not think about everything else you normally think about during the day.
And, if you can, try to make it the same time every day– after a few weeks it will become a habit and a relaxation ritual you will look forward to.
Power Down Before Bed
WebMD says this is a thing, so you know it’s legit. Using electronics before bed increases cortisol production and the glow from screens slows the production of melatonin, which leads to tossing and turning later when you’re trying to get some shut-eye.
This is the perfect time to pencil in that relaxing hobby. Curl up with non-required reading, paint a picture, knit, or journal. Avoid Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You are probably checking these things 10 times a day anyway, so you probably don’t need to check them now.
Then, when you do go to bed, be sure to follow a routine– brush your teeth, put your hair up, make a cup of chamomile tea, whatever it is you do– so your body knows it’s time to go to bed. You will fall asleep faster and you’ll sleep deeper throughout the night. And try to go to bed the same time every night… circadian rhythms are also a thing.
Treat Your Body Well
All those things that are time-consuming parts of being an adult– making sure you are well fed, getting enough sleep, and exercising– are things that vastly improve your health and will significantly reduce your stress levels. You know this. It’s only in, like, every single article about managing stress ever.
Try to exercise at least four times a week for 30 minutes, even if it’s just doing relaxing yoga or taking a walk across campus to get a Frappuccino. Make sure you’re eating frequent, balanced meals with lots of grains, veggies, and lean proteins. Get at least 7 hours of sleep, when you can. Remove your make-up and wash your face before you go to bed.
And be kind to yourself when you’re not hitting all those marks all the time. It’s a process. You’re learning. Nobody’s perfect all the time.
The quickest and easiest way to lift the weight of stress is to laugh it off. Laughter releases feel-good hormones that counteract the effects of stress, and sometimes it helps just to remember how ridiculous the grind can be.
Watch Jenna Marbles videos for a few minutes. Look at pictures of cats as sushi. Put kitten mittens on your cat. Take weirdo selfies with your best friends. Whatever hits you right in the giggle box, do that thing and feel the stress magically melt away.
Listen to Relaxing Music
When you have a deadline looming, it’s tempting to listen to high volume, fast-paced music to pump you up, but I’ve found that over time, listening to that music all the time would stress me out.
Taking a break from your GSD playlist and listening to chill, relaxing music for 10 to 15 minutes can do wonders for your stress levels. Take that time to check in with your body and yourself, and you’ll have a better idea of what is stressing you out. Or, you can just zone out and think about nothing– that helps, too.
If you’re unsure about where to find relaxing music, I’ve compiled a playlist of the stuff I listen to when I need to unwind– you’re bound to find something there that helps you relax. Or, if you have a Spotify account, check out the “Chill” section (under “Browse”) for excellent playlists of relaxing music for any mood or setting.
What do you think?
What are your tips for managing stress? What music do you listen to when you want to relax? Is there any celeb cuter than Anne Hathaway? What adult-y type stuff and things would you like to see covered in the column? Let me know in the comments below!