Stony Brook students are stressed.
I’m barely even speculating—it’s completely observable.
You can just kind of see it in people’s faces these days. It lingers like an awkward dream, poorly hidden behind the terrified glances and colorless expressions of confusion and moderate panic that characterize heavy midterm weeks like a holiday tradition.
People, in short, look ‘stressed out.’
I like to call it “finals face.”
It’s like a sickness, really. The massive tidal wave of finals week is slowly approaching and, as the pace quickens, some of us here on campus—myself included—look, bluntly put, scared out of their minds.
So, you might ask, what’s the solution?
Honestly, if I’d figured out the answer, I’d be happily collecting royalties on a best-selling self-help book right now. The sad thing is, there is no one, set-in-stone remedy. There is, in this situation, no ‘one size fits all.’
Therefore, I’ve left it up to you guys.
I’ve compiled a list of methods from various online ‘top 10’ lists on stress alleviation and selected those techniques that I feel really could be of help to some of you out there who look like you’re about to nod off on one of the armchairs in Reading Room.
Here are the five techniques that have essentially saved me from ulcers in the past. Hopefully, you find something that works for you before you rip all your hair out and snap unnecessarily at every third person who walks into the room.
1. Write. It may help to write about things that are bothering you. Write for 10 to 15 minutes a day about stressful events and how they made you feel. Or think about starting a stress journal. This helps you find out what is causing your stress and how much stress you feel. After you know, you can find better ways to cope.
This, I have to say, is my favorite. Pouring your feelings onto a page, regardless of whether anybody actually reads what’s you’ve written, can do wonders for a scrambled mind. Simply put, it helps you organize your thoughts. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find organization strangely soothing.
So, get to it—grab one of those spiral notebooks you were supposed to be using for your brutal eight a.m. biology lecture, and pen a song, poem…frighteningly angry rant about your roommate and her superfluous sniffling (actually a legitimate problem for one of my friends)…express yourself.
Word of advice: you may want to make sure that your seriously annoying roommate—and her perpetually clogged nasal cavity—don’t accidentally stumble across what you’ve written.
2. Browse your personal music collection. Pick your favorite soft music (instrumental, smooth jazz, nature sounds). Lay on your couch and snuggle up with your favorite soft throw and allow the peaceful sounds to take you into your happy place.
I love this one—there’s almost no better mood elevator than your favorite song. It’s like magic sometimes, the way it can just lift you out of the fog.
My advice: don’t just listen—sing as loudly as you can. Deafen your suitemates. Trust me…it works. I sing in a rock band, and there is nothing more soothing—and empowering—than screaming as loud of you can into a microphone…or into someone’s personal space.
3. Set realistic goals
Simple, yes…but profound. I can’t even tell you how many times this little tip would have saved me this semester alone.
Be reasonable. Don’t try to do much in one day, or one week.
You might think it’s possible or acceptable to pull four all-nighters in one week, but trust me…it’s a lot more difficult than it sounds.
And please, don’t try to do it all on caffeine. Haywire stress levels and stimulants don’t mix…at least, not in a way that doesn’t yield bloodshot eyes and an unappealing facial tic.
4. Get fit: Aerobic and cardio exercises are well documented ways to reduce stress. These exercises can include taking a leisurely walk, to taking a fast paced cardio class. These activities allow for the brain to think on something different, such as the movements, and allows for the subconscious to deal with the everyday stresses.
Honestly, this did it for me as a high school student.
I ran long distance in high school and my first semester at Stony Brook, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself in terms of keeping myself halfway sane.
In addition to feeling like you’ve truly accomplished something, it more or less forces you to organize your time around workouts, which is actually pretty crucial. In the past, I’ve found that having too much free time can be deadly, as it kind of just opens up more time for procrastination.
So, start a workout regimen. Grab a pair of trainers and a bottle of water, and start releasing some endorphins.
5. Laughter: Laughing is very important in life. It helps distract you away from anger, stress, frustration and negative emotions. Laughter provides a physical and emotional cleansed feeling, leaving you relaxed. If you can’t find things to laugh at, watch T.V., movies, or laugh with your friends. A nice remedy is to fake laugh with your friends until the fake laughter becomes real.
How true. When you’re stressed out beyond belief, grab that friend of yours who always makes you laugh, and allow yourself ten minutes to joke around. Really let yourself forget that you’ve got a 10-page paper due in 12 hours for a little while, and just let your mind recuperate.
Trust me…a few minutes of amnesia will do wonders for your mental health.
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