The holidays can be a stressful time of year. College students, such as myself, face final projects, papers, and exams all crunched into two weeks. Many of you are probably frantically planning the perfect holiday parties or trying to schedule winter get-a-ways. No matter what the cause of your anxiety and fatigue, here are a few ways to Stress Less Everyday.
Fight stress with some of your favorite tunes: A recent study revealed that people who listened to soothing music while delivering an impromptu speech had no signs of stress such as an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, or cortisol (the stress hormone). Those who weren’t listening felt all multitudes of these stress effects.
Laugh: Immunoglobulins, your immune system’s stress fighters, are increased when you laugh. Give yourself even just half an hour to watch your favorite comedy TV show or call a friend with a good sense of humor.
Get moving: Aerobic activity may be the best stress fighter out there! Exercise can actually help fight stress-related memory loss because it speeds up your production of new nerve cells in the hippocampus, the brain’s memory-processing center. Aerobic activity also increased blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain used for making decisions!
Take a minute to do nothing: You don’t have to be a Yogi or a Tibetan monk to enjoy the benefits of meditation. Take 3-5 minutes each day to sit or lie down and do absolutely nothing. Clear your head and concentrate on calming words such as relax, light, float, or love. Keep repeating it to yourself to lower your blood pressure, reduce aches and pains, and strengthen your immune system.
Set your alarm 5 minutes earlier: Stop jumping out of bed when your alarm goes off. Starting your day with a jolt is far from relaxing and this anxiety can travel with you throughout your day. Instead, take five deep breaths, squeeze your knees to your chest while laying on your back, then let them drop to each side to stretch your lower back before even getting out of your comforter. Then slowly roll out of bed, stretch your arms as high as you possibly can and feel your feet planted on the floor, as if there are roots growing out of your feet. Concentrate on making your upper body tall and light and your lower body grounded and strong.
Dine by candlelight: End your day with a lovely candlelight dinner. Not only is the light flattering to your beautiful bone structure, the dim light also signals for your brain to release melatonin, a sleep hormone. Getting a good nights rest after a relaxing meal will help you combat stress the next day. If you have too much work to finish after dinner, eat in the light then finish the last half an hour of work or read before bed by candlelight.