Coping with pre-summer stress

With graduation, final tests, projects and finding summer jobs and internships approaching, it’s no wonder that college students are stressed out and sleep deprived.

But that lack of sleep and growing stress can cause students to do poorly on tests and adversely affect their health. Side effects of severe stress can include physical pain, anxiety and loss of concentration.

If you’re looking for some ways to slow down and relax, The Oracle found some helpful tips.

Sleep

In the same way that stress causes a lack of sleep, getting little rest can magnify stress.

The body needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Studies show less than that affects your concentration so much that it increases your chances of having a car accident.

Of course, if stress is preventing you from falling asleep, as it does for most college students, you may find yourself in an endless cycle.

To help your body relax before going to bed, try developing a sleep schedule and sticking to it – even on nights when you feel you need to stay up studying. Stick to your typical routine as well – if you usually read a chapter of your favorite book, try and do so every night. Following a routine helps the body know when to prepare for sleep.

Eat less at dinner and don’t eat or exercise right before going to bed. Limit liquids as well or risk disturbing your sleep when you wake up at night to use the bathroom.

Keep your room dark, and if you don’t fall asleep in 20 minutes, distract your mind by getting out of bed and doing something relaxing. Agonizing over sleep will only cause more stress and keep you up longer.

Eat/Drink

Many foods and drinks can help you relax but there are many to avoid.

Caffeine, aside from keeping people awake, can aggravate stress throughout the day. Some studies found that sugar, alcohol and chocolate can also stress you out.

Tea is one of the most highly recommended drinks for a stressed-out student and can be made using a variety of soothing herbs like passionflower, chamomile and lavender. In fact, a London study found that just drinking a warm cup of tea could decrease stress levels up to 25 percent.

Hot milk with honey is a good way to relax before bed.

Different foods have a calming effect as well, like turkey, which is known for its high levels of tryptophan – a chemical that makes people sleepy.

Other foods proved to be relaxing are salmon, avocado, oranges, sweet potatoes and green vegetables. When looking to keep your spirits high, the key is to eat healthy and look for food with vitamins and potassium.

Eat smaller meals every three hours or so, instead of three large meals a day. This will prevent a crash and keep your blood sugar up.

Activities

It all comes down to the same three things that doctors recommend for a healthy lifestyle: rest, healthy eating and exercise.

Keeping active through exercise is not only healthy for your body, it’s also a great way to release endorphins – feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain – into your system, improving your mood.

Even exercising by doing lawn work will give you motivation to last throughout the day.

Some exercises – like yoga – are made to stretch the body, relieve tension and control breathing to help you relax. Finals week is a good time to take advantage of all the free classes at the USF Recreation Center and work out your stress.

Meditation is a common form of relaxation. Mayoclinic.com recommends tai chi, which is offered on campus. The Rec center also offers massages starting at $45.

Of course, if all else fails, just do something you enjoy. Whether it’s playing with your pet, writing in a journal or going to the beach. Doing things you enjoy will make you happy and put you at ease.



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