Column: Don’t let semester stress win

How is this semester going for me so far? I’m taking 18 hours in 400 level courses. I work 30 hours this week at my part-time job. I slept three hours the past two nights; the only nutritious thing I’ve eaten in the past three days has been the chicken on my pizza I finally called-in for delivery after the sad reality of not having any time to grocery shop. I cried twice yesterday. I have anxiety about having anxiety, which ultimately leads to worse anxiety and worrying about things that feasibly cannot happen. Also, I just had to make a “to-do first” list for my “to-do” list because it was so long.

I’m definitely not the only one who feels this way right now. Basically everyone I know is stressed out beyond belief because it’s the time of the semester where you really have to kick-it in gear. It’s November, which means it’s almost December … which means it’s almost finals. We’re one month away from the end of the semester. Finding healthy ways to balance our tasks are crucial to both our physical and mental health.

1. Create a relaxing space, and make sure it’s clean. Light candles when you feel stressed out. Buy plants to keep in your space. Make sure it’s free of clutter. Try to incorporate relaxing colors, like blue and green, to help keep you calm when you’re stressed. Surround yourself in an area that you’re able to concentrate in and breathe.

2. Don’t pick-up too many hours at a part-time job. You have the rest of your life to work, but you’re only in college once. I’m not saying you shouldn’t work — we’re in college, we’re broke, there’s rent to pay, groceries to buy, tuition, books and so many other costs that come up when you move out of your parents’. You work to spend money on things you don’t want to buy, but have to buy (literally no one wants to spend money on toilet paper). But, your quality of life and sanity is more important than sacrificing your mental and physical health by being overworked — college is way more than a full-time job in itself.

3. Don’t be afraid to say no. If you’re tired, don’t force yourself to go out. If you’re swamped in homework, don’t agree to take your coworker’s extra shift. Saying no becomes easier the more you do it. Don’t make your decisions based off anyone else but yourself.

4. Make a to-do list and organize your calendar. Get out all your syllabi, highlight the important dates and then write them down on a monthly calendar. Online calendars are great, particularly Google and Outlook calendars, and I’m so sad that I just realized how great the features they offer are last night. They let you organize your tasks daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly with colors: all my homework assignments are in red, all my friend’s birthdays are in yellow, my work schedule is in blue, etc. It’s nice because it’s quick, neat and organized, always accessible — and you can even share your calendar with your friends if you’re doing a group project and trying to fit schedules. Before bed every night, write down what you’re thankful for in that day on your calendar. It is so nice to go back and look at all the wonderful things that happened in a month, and finding the good in a bad situation is always important.

5. Reduce caffeine intake and increase water intake. I love coffee just as much as the next person, but limiting it to one cup every couple days has helped calm some of my anxiousness. Drinking water can improve your energy, your skin, get rid of headaches — drinking enough water really is crucial to your overall health and sometimes you forget how much you need it until you finally get enough.

6. Listen to your body. Sometimes your body needs chocolate. Sometimes it needs spinach. Sometimes it needs a home-cooked meal. Sometimes you need to call off of work and sleep for 16 hours. Learn to listen to the signals your body is giving you so you can treat your body right.

7. Invest in comfy bedding. Seriously. Getting a good night’s sleep is so important to a successful day, and so important to your health. You spend more time with your bed than in any other one place. You sleep in it after some of the best days you’ve had, and you crash in it after some of the longest, worst days you’ve had. You’re in it for hours at a time. Make it comfortable. Invest in a mattress pad or some comfy pillows. I’ve made my bed basically a fluffy cloud of blankets and pillows and I look forward to going to bed every night — I have no trouble sleeping, and I feel so relaxed and calm when I lay there after a stressful day.

8. Learn to laugh when things go wrong. A good sense of humor will get you really far in life. Life is mostly how you react when things happen. Things go wrong for everyone, but the impact it will leave is left up to your attitude. Next time your tire goes flat when you’re on your way to class or you forget to study for a test or your computer shuts down mid-assignment, take a second, breathe, learn to laugh about it, and if you’re like me or any of my friends, use it as a prompt for a funny tweet.

9. Do things for YOU. Do your homework Tuesday night so you can lay in bed on Wednesday night and watch “American Horror Story” and eat pizza. Buy some cheap facials and do them while you’re taking a break from homework so you return feeling refreshed and awake. Take long bubble baths. Find easy slow-cooker recipes so you can come home from class to the smell of a delicious meal ready for you to eat. Little things like this can make you feel destressed and ready to take on the day.

10. Reward yourself. After you and your group do a lot of work on a hard project, go out for trivia night for an hour or two. After studying hard for a midterm for hours on end, buy that new shirt you wanted online. Go see a movie that just came out, spoil yourself a little — you deserve it.

11. Go outside. This is the perfect time of year to go outside and just take in the air of the crisp fall leaves. Go outside, sit, breathe the air in, turn off your phone for a while, write if you enjoy writing, read if that’s what relaxes you — sometimes, fresh air is just good for the soul.

12. Meditate. There are so many ways to meditate, including, but not limited to, yoga. Look some up online and find the way that best suits you and begin to practice it regularly.

And lastly, remember that everything will be okay. At the end of the day, it’s not the end of the world if you mess up on an assignment. You’re human. You’re doing great.

Karima Neghmouche can be contacted at [email protected].