You’re at your desk. It’s 2 AM. You have an English essay to write, three articles to read and annotate, and a Calculus exam tomorrow, and you just want to scream AND—
Don’t pass out, darling! It’s alright! Forget what other people say—school is downright stressful. You’ve got tons of homework, demanding AP classes, friend drama, SAT’s, AP’s, and whatever other evil acronyms College Board makes up to torture our minds.
But you can deal with it! Stress is normal, but it can be seriously detrimental to your health, leading to depression, headaches, heart problems, and even diabetes. If you learn how to deal with it, you’ll ultimately feel a lot calmer, a lot happier, and a lot healthier.
Check out these effective ways to destroy your stress like the evil creature it is!
1) Stay organized
It’s so much easier to become frustrated when you’re disorganized. Try to keep a routine and keep your workplace clean and organized. If you have a routine, you’ll be less likely to procrastinate and leave off all your work until the last minute. In other words, if you have a routine, you’ll be a lot less stressed out!
I know it’s tempting to stay up all night and watch Netflix…
…but sleep smart! Sleep is integral for healthy brain function. Although it’s very difficult to maintain eight full hours of sleep during the school year, it’s important to try to get as much sleep as is possible. Spend less time vegetating on social media and more time catching those z’s!
3) Stay active
This has been mentioned in previous blog posts, but seriously: physical exercise is essential for a healthy lifestyle. It’s also a great way to de-stress. Try doing some jumping jacks in between study sessions—or going for a brisk walk. Yoga and pilates are also great ways to relieve tension! Sign up for a local class or buy a yoga mat and learn online! Also, for some exercises that are easy to do at home, check out this awesome list.
4) Keep things in perspective
It sounds too easy, but it’s true. Keeping things in perspective is the key solution to dissolving stress. When you’re shoulder-deep in AP preparation, it might seem like the stress will utterly destroy you, but really…it’s just a standardized test. It won’t make or break your life. Make sure to take a step back, open up a window, and breathe. Meditation and self-hypnosis are both great ways to deal with this.
5) Get a stress toy
For real, though! Having a physical outlet for your stress in the form of a squeaky toy is no small matter. It’s actually fairly effective. And they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
HOW CAN YOU RESIST? They’re so cute. Seriously.
6) Study in a group
Oftentimes, studying with friends or people you are comfortable with is optimal for relieving stress. You can know you’re not suffering alone, and you can try try all sorts of group study methods. Try quizzing each other, discussing key topics, and asking them your questions—if you conduct the study session right, it can be very fun and very productive.
Laughing really is the best medicine. Or, at least, it’s excellent at de-stressing! Scientific studies have proven that laughing eases stress and lowers blood pressure. So, even if you’re really not in the mood for it, laugh! Watch some funny videos on Youtube or remember a funny memory, and you’ll be guaranteed to feel a lot less stressed.
8) Write it out in a journal
Writing out your thoughts is a great way to organize your emotions and really get to the bottom of what’s bothering you. Try keeping a journal to write in when you’re stressed—or just get out a sheet of paper! As long as you have an outlet for your stress, you’ll feel a lot better.
9) Think positively
Sounds cliché, but it couldn’t be more true. Positive thinking is key to staying calm. It’s hard not to constantly imagine worst-case scenarios (…or maybe that’s just…me…), but if you replace them with positive mantras, things will be much more enjoyable.
10) Eat healthy
Eating definitely helps in stressful situations…but eating healthier is even better. Certain foods, like mussels and Greek yogurt, are scientifically proven to contain happiness-boosting nutrients and ingredients. So the next time you’re feeling down, try chomping down on some of these!
11) Do relaxing things (massage, tea-drinking, bubble bath)
This is a no-brainer. Sometimes all it takes to de-stress is to treat yourself to something nice. Drink some tea. Have a bubble bath. Get a nice massage. Or try something on this list of 100 ways to relax!
12) Change up your environment
Sometimes, your cluttered desk does nothing to help your stress. Try switching it up and change your environment. Study outside, in your kitchen, by a balcony! The options are endless. Escaping familiar surroundings might help you focus more on the task at hand.
13) Show your affection!
Well, ok. This is going to sound really weird and possibly a little creepy, but it’s scientifically proven, so whatever.
Hug or kiss someone. No, I’m not joking. Hugging reduces blood pressure and stress levels, and kissing fights stress-related hormones. Just don’t kiss or hug someone who doesn’t want to be kissed or hugged.
14) Listen to music
Jam to some tunes! Music definitely has a strong psychological impact on its listeners, and the right type of music can help you focus more, uplift your spirits, and even relieve your stress. Take a look at these great stress-relieving playlists the next time you feel like tearing your hair out.
15) Stop wasting time.
This ties into a few previously mentioned topics, but it’s so important that we might as well mention it again. If you study earlier and not later and start becoming more productive, you’ll actually spend a lot less time getting your work done and more time to relax. Rather than half-heartedly studying while watching TV, get away from your distractions and just get your work over with. You’ll spend a lot less time stressing over looming deadlines and a lot more time relaxing. Try downloading tools which track your internet usage, so you can see which websites you spend the most time on. Or try pitching into this list of time management strategies.
16) Don’t take on more than you can handle
Learn to keep your priorities straight and don’t overburden yourself with commitments. Don’t try to cram a whole bunch of activities in your schedule if you can’t handle it, and don’t always feel obligated to dedicated all your time to other people. You are important, too—learn to say “no” if you know you already have too much on your plate!
According to research, volunteering and giving back actually increases happiness.
Mother Teresa would approve. So, go sign up for some nice volunteer gigs! Not only will you be doing something good for your community, but you’ll also be a lot less stressed out.
18) Get a pet
In one study involving 217 community members, people with pets were proven to be happier and less preoccupied. And, get this: petting aforementioned pets is also said to be a major stress-reliever. It releases oxytocin, which helps lower blood pressure and fight cortisol, which is associated with stress and anxiety. So, go get a pet…and pet it!
19) Chew gum
Chewing gum alleviates negativity and reduces cortisol when under stress, according to one study. So grab your nearest pack of gum and chew that thing like it’s nobody’s business.
Oh, and what’s that about chewing gum having a negative connotation? I didn’t think so.
20) Speak out loud
Talk about your stress with someone. Really, it helps. Find an understanding friend or family member to talk about your problems with (preferably someone who won’t make you more stressed!). If you feel like there’s no one who understands, there are tons of counseling hotlines like this one which will help you for free.
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About Maddi Lee
Maddi is currently a high school junior in southern California. She is an avid freelance writer and has been featured in multiple literary publications and anthologies. When she isn't writing, she loves traveling, doodling, and most of all, sleeping. Through her own experience and passion, she hopes to help guide fellow students through the roller coaster that is SAT and college admissions...that is, as long as she survives the journey herself!
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