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Opinion

As finals near, columnist offers ways to relieve stress

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December 10, 2009

As college students we all know the world of stress. Along with the holidays and summertime, we anticipate (with much less enthusiasm) finals, papers, projects and for some, graduation. Deadlines create “dead” students: the zombie-like people who forget why they attend class in the first place, what day it is, and if they should eat or write…or is there a difference?

Our heads go numb, we might drool a little, and we often cannot be startled no matter the circumstances.

I accidentally dropped a textbook next to this guy’s desk the other day-he didn’t even hear me apologize for the noise. Yet somehow, being the warriors we are, we survive this time of the semester and continue the cycle until graduation. That’s stamina.

We each have our own little arsenal of techniques to deal with the stress we encounter, personalized for that superhero within. I decided to see what interesting (and appropriate) stress-relieving techniques some students use and share these tools. We are all in this together.

One of the first techniques I discovered as a favorite among students was to simply take a walk. While the recent brisk weather makes a walk an epic battle of wind and ice, just think of that stress becoming the least of your worries when you can’t feel your toes anymore.

We always miss things when they’re gone. Yet once a student gets bundled up, a walk on campus can be very beneficial. A mind can be completely cleared on the many paths throughout campus.

Perhaps while strolling the campus grounds, a student could unwind even more whilst sipping green tea. Tea has benefits that are worth looking up, and green tea in particular has the ability to sooth stress and repair some damage with its many antioxidants. 

A walk may work for others, but there are the rest of us who prefer warmth this time of year. Stretching in the shower is another technique to calm down. In the shower, the warm water relaxes muscles and makes the stretches easier to perform. Just remember to keep balance in mind. Its embarrassing trying to explain a black eye acquired from a Pantene bottle. 

The next technique is commonly used but worth mentioning. Listen to music! We have our mp3 players and a few stubborn Walkmen filled with hand-picked music. This is a great resource for reducing stress. Music is as diverse as the human species and as customizable as coffee.

Often we turn to our earphones when we’ve had a bad day—why not try it for stress? If music isn’t your thing, laugh instead. Laughter works to reduce anxiety and distract from worry. Think about what is funny to you and seek it out.

Watch a funny clip online, listen to a favorite comedian, or joke around with your friends. If the laughs won’t start, just try to smile. The action triggers our brain to act a bit happier. And while you’re smiling don’t forget to breathe—blue’s not your color. Deep breaths calm the body, reducing tension, and therefore, stress. 

Good luck with finals. It is a rough, long ride, but remember there is an end. Walk, breathe, listen—while these seem like obvious tasks, in the bustle they sometimes get left behind. And shower.

Hygiene’s sometimes a simple matter of public service.

While you’re sitting with your studies, smile. If you don’t feel a little better, at least everyone else will leave you alone in peace and quiet.   

<b>Laura Krawczyk</b> is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.