We could all do with a little less stress in our lives, but for college students and high schoolers the stress levels are especially high. With November 1st being National Stress Awareness Day, I'd say it's a perfect opportunity to talk about it.
Between studying, finals, extracurriculars, and everything in between, it's hard to know when and how to take a break. So, to save you some time, I'm writing all of the best tips down right here.
It may be a hard habit to get into, what with the hand cramping and the struggle to find words to put down, but with consistency, frequently writing in a journal has been shown to be one of the most effective stress management tools out there. One of the main causes of stress is the constant thread of fears running through your head, and the great thing about writing that all down is that it takes it from inside of you and puts it down on paper in a way that starts and ends, instead of looping endlessly in your head.
2. Take a Bath
Maybe you think you're too old to take a bath. Maybe you think baths are for girls. Maybe you think baths are a waste of water. I would like to contest all of those things.
First of all: just because showers were invented does not change the fact that in many countries everyone from grandfathers down take baths exclusively. Second: the effects of warm water and good smelling bath salts or soap or bath bombs are not gender specific. Sorry kids. And third: you use more water in an average shower than you do filling the tub. Boom.
Now go take a bath and let yourself just soak in the warmness. Bring a book or watch Netflix if you want. It'll be worth it.
3. Go to Your Happy Place (Alternatively: Find Your Happy Place)
Going to your happy place is the easiest way to erase all of your worries. Lucky woman that I am, I have three. A coffee shop, and two separate parks (both have swings). All of these places are like a home away from home, where I can truly relax without worrying about the rest of my life (something that's hard to do when I'm in my apartment).
It might take some doing, but find somewhere where you can just relax and be you. And once you find that place, visit it regularly. (Fun fact: I'm at one of mine as I write this!)
4. Doodle or Color
This is another one of those things that used to be just for kids and artists (until that huge obsession with coloring books hit a few years ago) and to be honest, it's a miracle worker. The awesome thing about coloring and doodling is that it's mostly a mindless task. You can do it while you listen to someone lecture. You can do it while you're taking a break at work. It can help keep your mind from wandering to less pleasant topics, and really forces you into the present moment.
And you get some pretty cool decor while you're at it, so there's that.
Yoga is the be-all end-all for stress management, at least for me. When practicing fully (incorporating asanas (poses), meditation, and breathing techniques), every part of it, from the emptying of the mind to the exercise, helps release stress hormones and calms anxiety. You don't even need to spend a long time doing it. Ten minutes is more than enough to reap the full benefits of yoga, and you'll thank yourself when you're 50 and can still do things like sit and stand without issue (props to yoga for keeping joints healthy!).
Look, I get it. You've probably already heard of all of these, but if you've been waiting for the opportune moment to actually put them into practice, that moment is now. Choose to put yourself first today. It's so worth it.