Commuter Column: Stress busters to keep in mind

As this week comes to a close, we’re in the seventh-inning stretch — the last few weeks of the semester before summer break. However, before the fun can begin, there are still three weeks of class, full of final projects, papers and tests, and the dreaded week and a half of finals to endure. So to help students through this stressful time in the semester, here are a few tips to make it a little more relaxing.

Although procrastination is something that we all are guilty of at one time or another, this is the time to get a start on things as early as possible. Start that term paper, project and/or begin studying now if you haven’t yet. The earlier you start, the less you have to do at once, the sooner you can get help if you need it, and the better the quality of whatever you turn in. Also, less procrastination means less of a chance of needing to cram for an exam, rushing through a project or having to pull an all-nighter.

Another idea is to have caffeine in moderation if you feel you need it. A small dose, such as a cup of coffee or black tea, is more than enough to get the benefits of increased energy and better ability to focus, but two or three cans of an energy drink are too much. Signals of caffeine overdose include anxiety, jitteriness, and insomnia. If you do cross that line, drink plenty of water to dilute it. Take it from the voice of experience.

The conventional wisdom is “early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” However, this proverb really should be “consistent bedtime, consistent wake-up.” It’s a safe bet to say going to bed at 10 p.m. to get up at 6 a.m. is not the sleep schedule of most college students. It is actually more important to get a consistent amount of sleep around the same time to reduce stress and help your mind get the REM sleep that helps academic performance.

Knowing deadlines is another important way to keep that GPA up. The way to make sure you know them is to get organized. Everyone has his or her own way of doing this, ranging from lists, to using a planner or calendar, putting post-its somewhere you’ll see them, or even using Facebook. There is no right or wrong way to get organized as long as it makes your life more efficient.

Another method to keep you GPA up is to keep work/study periods fairly short. Cramming does not produce good results because it is usually too long a study period for the mind to properly absorb the information. So instead of the hours-long study period, try breaking it down into two or more shorter periods during the day. If a longer study period is easier, switch subjects or tasks to keep the mind engaged.

The final piece of advice is to relax and have some fun, too. Although this is a very busy point in the semester, a little recreation does wonders for the mind. Going for a walk, hanging out with friends or playing a game of pool in the SRC are just a few examples of ways to alleviate stress.  “All work and no play” is never a good idea.

– Jess Scanlon

Sophomore journalism major

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