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Opinion

Easy tips for a stress free end of the semester

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April 20, 2012

As summer nears, many students experience mixed emotions. After all, the last month of school is always insane. Clubs and departments are having their end-of-the year banquets, jobs are scheduling more hours, and classes have their final papers, projects and tests.

All of this can add up to students feeling overwhelmed and sometimes unable to maintain such a high level of performance. However, with some self-care, students can reduce their stress and make it through with their sanity intact.

The simplest way to improve your stress levels is to cut back. Now is not the time to take extra work hours, start volunteering, or agree to tackle the majority of a group project alone.

Search for meetings or tasks that are not a must and either push them back or eliminate them all together.

If you reduced as much as possible and still feel swamped, ask for help. Then work on managing the stress that results from the activities you still must do.

The primary way to reduce stress and feel capable of dealing with long days and loads of homework is to keep your body healthy. Be sure to eat healthy, exercise and receive enough sleep. While now may not be the best time to revamp your entire diet, just keeping an eye on sugars and caffeine is a good way to regulate your body’s fuel.

Similarly, exercise can be short and sweet—walk around the block once when you wake up, do a 15 minute video or magazine work out, or run up the stairs a couple times. Finally, make sleep one of your top priorities. Shoot for eight hours and watch how ready you are to face the day the next morning.

Working ahead can also reduce your stress, but in a preventative way. Instead of wiping your brow after finishing homework for the next day, push yourself for an extra half hour and do homework for later that week. While this is hard to find motivation for at first, once you start noticing your stress ebb away because you eliminate the deadline-istomorrow crunch, it will be an easy habit to keep.

Likewise, when you finish a big project or ace a test, reward yourself with something. It can be small (watch that favorite TV episode) or big (a night out with friends). This will give you something to look forward to and keep you feeling positive and goal-oriented.

Keep in mind that when people feel stressed for a long time, their world tends to shrink up into only focusing on the anxiety and the deadlines.

Refuse to let stress shrink your world. It can easily suck students in and become all they know. Take time to expand your world by reducing the stress and doing something fun.

Spend some quality time with your close friends and your significant other. While you may feel antisocial or drained after a long day, still try to stay close to the people who will help you through this difficult time.

Depending on how much time you have, you could refresh by meeting up for lunch one day or hanging out for an entire afternoon together; do what works for you.

By spending time with others, stress stops being your entire world, and you can begin to rejuvenate again. Lastly, a key stress-managing tip to remember is to find happiness in the actions you do.

Even if you are not thrilled about a meeting, try to enjoy time with the people there be grateful for the work you finish during it. Do not resent or dread your workload or it will seem more ominous and stressful than it actually is.

By recognizing when your stress is building, and doing constructive actions to reduce it, the last month of the semester can be managed with your sanity intact.

Simply be aware of how you spend your time and really try to take care of yourself. Learn what works for you and do it.

Jaime Haines is an exuberant puppy-lover and “House” addict and plans to use her psychology degree to encourage activism and well-being through counseling, workshops, speeches, and the written word.