Are you feeling tired, overwhelmed, and stressed out about your finals? The end of the semester can mean having tons of high stakes things to get done in a short amount of time. That growing list of things to do can also cause your stress levels to rise to unhealthy levels.
When we’re feeling stressed out and overwhelmed we often go for the easiest way to relieve the pressure. This desire for a quick fix can lead to choosing quick, unhealthy ways to deal with our stress. I’m looking at you drinking, drugs, junk food, smoking, and late night binge watching.
We’re all guilty of this, even me, but let’s be clear these are not stress management strategies. These are stress avoidance strategies that numb the stress in the moment, but don’t actually handle the problem, unhealthy levels of stress. If we’re being honest, pretty much everyone of these things usually ends up creating more stress and strain on our mind and body in the long run. And all those to-dos don’t get done compounding the original stress that lead us to escape in the first place.
True stress management strategies actually help your body maintain the healthy levels of stress you desperately need to remain motivated enough to get your stuff done. Stress management strategies are playing the long game. They nourish you and help bring down your stress levels and even help you repair the actual damaging effects that stress has on your body.
The most amazing part is that each of these strategies is totally free and available to you at anytime. No fancy technology, no carving out time for a class, no paying tons of money to escape. All completely free, easy, natural, nourishing ways to lower your tension.
Strategies like breathing, meditating, exercising, talking, and spacing out may all seem to easy to be effective, but numerous research has found that these very simple habits can make a world of difference when it comes to stress.
5 Strategies for Managing Stress During Finals
The simple act of taking a few deep breaths can magically stop the production of damaging stress hormones on the spot. Breathing is both energizing and relaxing and has positive effects on the brain, heart, digestion, immune system.
Mediation is all the rage these days because of its enormous positive effects on our mood, stress, and overall health. Mediation or really any contemplative practice like prayer can help you manage all the random thoughts (especially negative thoughts) that are swirling around in your brain by training you to simply observe them and let them pass on through rather than letting those little thoughts take over.
20 minutes of exercise can have healing effects on your mind and body that last for hours. This can be a walk, run, yoga, bike ride, dance party. The idea is to get your body moving for 20 minutes. This is great for your body, helps to clear your mind, and produces all kinds of good for you hormones that help counteract the negative effects of stress hormones.
When we are super stressed about something we tend to obsess about it. We feel like we can’t walk away from the source of the stress whether its a big problem, exam, or project. We often feel like we are strapped for time and that taking a break will set us back. The truth is a break can sometimes bring clarity allowing your mind and body to rest and refresh. You can use your breaks to practice the other stress reducing strategies or to nap, hang out, watch a show...you get the idea. The key here is to build in breaks for a specific window and then actually get back to work when the break is over.
Talking about your situation with a trusted friend or family member can work wonders on stress. Talking it out can help you process problems and figure out solutions. Connecting socially is good for us and can help us feel supported. Friends and family can give you the love you need to keep going. But beware that you want to talk with someone who will listen and support you. Sometimes well meaning folks try to solve our problems for us, judge us, or give well intentioned bad advice. Always talk to people you can trust and who will give you the space you need to vent.
Remember you have the power to create a better college experience. Let us know how you are handling your stress during finals in the comments below. Your words of wisdom just might be the inspiration someone else needs to start creating the collegehood of their dreams.