With the end of the year approaching us, it is safe to say that our stress levels are very high. While some are able to manage their workload and remain stress free at times like this, others might be struggling to cope with the amount of work they’ve been receiving and finding it difficult to take a moment to relax and unwind. Regardless of what is causing these feelings of stress or anxiety, the following suggestions will definitely be of use and will be sure to contribute to improving your mental health. So, without further ado, here are a few ways to destress - a trusty guide by a very stressed out student.
1. Consider the sources of your stress
It’s hard to manage stress when you don’t know what’s causing it. Therefore, the best way to figure out how to destress is to understand what is generating the stress you feel. Is it school, homework, extracurricular activities, social challenges, relationships? This step is one of the most important, as once you know the source of your anxiety, you can better figure out what you need to do in order to be able to calm down and relax. After that, there are multiple things you can do to decompress and ease your worries.
A few ways you can identify the sources of your stress are to take quizzes, or to start a journal to help you identify the causes of stress in your life as well as how you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed, write about it in your journal, and if you keep a daily log, you’ll begin to see patterns and common themes. A few things you can write about are:
What caused you to feel stressed (if you’re not sure, make a guess);
How you felt, physically as well as emotionally;
How you acted in response;
What you did to make yourself feel better.
2. Take breaks
If you’re stressed, you are likely feeling very tired, and forcing yourself to work for hours on end, without taking any breaks, will most definitely worsen the situation, as it will eventually lead to mental and physical fatigue. Additionally, taking breaks has been proven to improve focus and concentration and provides the opportunity for a mental reset. After a break, you can resume work with more energy and motivation. Hence why taking a pause is so important. There are many ways you can take breaks from your tasks without being unproductive – read a book, exercise, get a snack for yourself, go outside for a change of scenery, talk to a friend (you could even form a study group!), or listen to music. However, make sure to get back to your work after your breaks. A good way of ensuring you take breaks and get back to work is to follow the Pomodoro method, which is a very popular method used for studying. It consists of 25 minutes of work followed by 5 minutes of rest, and has been scientifically proven to increase focus when properly followed. However, if you think this is too short for you to properly complete your tasks and rest, you could do 50 minutes of work followed by 10 minutes of rest – it’s really up to you and only you will know what works best.
Here are a few websites and videos you can use to follow this method:
3. Get enough sleep
What people don’t often realize is that sleep and mood are very closely related – insufficient sleep often leads to irritability or stress, while healthy sleep can enhance well-being. Having a good night’s sleep means you’ll be able to undertake completing your assigned tasks more efficiently and effectively. Ensuring you are getting enough sleep is one of the most important things a student should do; sleeping properly helps with concentration and overall academic performance, playing a key role in helping students consolidate memories. Not getting enough sleep can be the cause of multiple health problems, including diabetes, obesity, depression, and can weaken your immune system. It is recommended that adolescents get between 8 and 10 hours of sleep per night,
so if you’re sleeping less than that, it’s
time you changed your habits for healthier alternatives. A few ways one can ensure they are getting better sleep are to stick to a sleep schedule, create a restful environment, include physical activity in your daily routine, and to limit daytime naps. Additionally, going off your phone and other devices an hour before going to bed is recommended, as electronic devices emit blue light, which tricks you into thinking it’s daytime, and can further prevent you from falling asleep. Instead, reading a book is a better way to help you relax and wind down before going to sleep.
4. Organize yourself and create a good workspace.
Having a cluttered workspace can take a toll on your stress levels, even if you don’t realize it, and organization can significantly reduce your stress levels. Not only that, but organization helps you sleep better and increases productivity at work. Prioritizing organization means giving yourself time to focus on the things that really matter, such as sleep. Organizing your daily schedule and tasks allows you to concentrate on what needs to be done that day instead of being distracted by things around you, therefore, it is a very efficient way of lessening your anxieties. There are multiple ways of keeping organized, such as writing down the tasks you have to get done for the week; you could do this by creating a checklist, or writing them in your agenda, planner, etc. Prioritize the ones due sooner and slowly work your way through your list. Additionally, set realistic goals and expectations so that you can actually complete your assignments properly instead of rushing through them for the sake of getting them done. A good way of doing this is to break down your tasks, for example thinking of 3 minor tasks per day and 3 major tasks per week, which ensures that you do not overload yourself with things to do for the week and still accomplish everything. Studying with friends is also a great way to stay organized and is often more effective than studying alone. It is often very motivating to work with someone else, as seeing them working on their tasks will help you stay on track – just make sure that you do so with a friend you work well with, so as to not create more distractions.
6. Exercise regularly
Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, and has some direct stress-alleviating benefits. Physical activity may help increase the production of endorphins, and can reduce the negative effects of stress, leading to positive effects in your body, such as cardiovascular, digestive, and immune systems. As you begin to regularly eliminate your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, as well as the resulting energy and optimism, can help you stay calm, clear and focused in everything you do.
Meditation is a simple technique that can help you control stress, decrease anxiety, improve cardiovascular health, and achieve a greater capacity for relaxation. Taking a moment to clear your mind will help focus your attention and eliminate thoughts that may be crowding your mind and leading to stress. Numerous studies have shown that meditation is an effective stress management tool, and it has been proven to help alleviate stress. There are many ways one can meditate, including guided meditations on youtube, apps such as headspace, and more, and it is a very simple habit to get into.
There are so many ways to relieve stress and anxiety – simply find out which ones work for you and you’ll see the results very quickly. These are very simple steps you can take to improve your well-being and mental health, but be sure to do your own research and figure out how you can help prevent the stress from building and affecting your life. Try out the methods listed above; I doubt you’ll regret giving these a try!