It’s that time of year again, folks. As in that time of year when you want to crawl into a hole and hide until winter break. Between exams, papers and exhausting study sessions, life can feel a bit overwhelming. To help survive these trying times, here are five ways to reduce stress.
Walk it out: Step off campus and try a leisurely stroll through nature. Between the beauty of the changing leaves and the cool, crisp breeze of fall, you’ll end your walk feeling calm and refreshed. There are lots of great local trails close to campus. If you’re looking for something within walking distance, check out the MKT Trail or Capen Park.
Get sweaty: Exercise has been proven over and over again to reduce stress. It releases endorphins, which are known as the “feel-good” neurotransmitters. Endorphins improve your mood as well as diminish your perception of pain. Exercise also allows you to forget about the daily struggles of life and focus on your body. When you have an hour to spare, hit up MizzouRec. It has a wide range of options to choose from, and it’s free.
Channel your inner yogi: Yoga creates a calm, relaxing mood. It also focuses on a type of breathing called pranayama. Pranayama breathing focuses the mind on the present and balances both the mind and body. When stressed, the body’s muscles tend to tense up. Yoga relieves some of that tension by stretching and relaxing your muscles. To try a class, either visit the MizzouRec or one of the local yoga studios, such as alleyCat Yoga or Yoga Sol.
Pump up the jams: Next time you open Pandora, try selecting a playlist consisting of classical music or slow, acoustic songs. Research has shown that these types of music can actually slow pulse and heart rate down and lower blood pressure. Listening to music also decreases cortisol levels (a hormone linked to stress).
Catch some Z’s: As college students, getting a full night’s sleep isn’t always possible. Almost everyone experiences at least one Red Bull-infused all-nighter throughout his or her college career. Sometimes, we even brag about how little sleep we got the night before.
While it is tempting to stay up late studying (or just being social), lack of sleep is extremely detrimental to mental health. Although the recommended amount of sleep for college students is nine hours per night, a survey conducted by the University of Arizona showed that most students only got six to seven hours. This lack of sleep can hurt grades, increase stress and even cause anxiety or depression.
Although it may not seem like a top priority, getting enough sleep is a vital part of reducing stress. Try to aim for at least eight or nine hours per night. If you need to nap, nap early in the day, and keep it to 20 or 30 minutes tops.
While the dauntingly large amount of schoolwork this time of year might convince you otherwise, it is possible to keep your sanity. Anything that clears your mind and gets you re-balanced is well worth it. Go for a walk, hit the gym, practice your sun salutations, jam out, catch up on some sleep, or try something completely different. Whatever your method may be, take the time to de-stress on a daily basis. Your body deserves it.