How often do you find yourself saying, “I’m so stressed”? If it happens all day long, you’re not alone.
Everyone agrees that college is stressful, especially during exams. That’s not going to change. And “being stressed” has become a way of life in college.
What do you do when you’re in class taking notes, and all of a sudden you feel your heart racing and sweat forming on your forehead? Or maybe you’re in the library reading and you don’t remember what you read for the last hour? What if you’re in the dining hall with your friends, someone asks you a question, and you don’t hear them because you’re thinking about the exam you have in the morning?
When stress starts to take over your college life, you need to know what to do. You need some quick and easy techniques to bring yourself back to feeling in control.
So, here, they are. Four super easy and quick ways to calm yourself down. Try them out and see what works for you in different situations:
Number one: BREATHE. Yes, when you are stressed you tend to breathe rapidly and shallowly. That type of breathing causes more anxiety. Instead, take some slow deep breaths, filling your abdomen with air. Breathe in through your nose to a count of 5. Hold your breath for 2 counts. Then push the air out through your mouth to a count of 5. Hold for 2 counts before breathing in again through your nose. Repeat the pattern 3 to 5 times. You should feel your stress melt away.
Number two: POSITIVE THINKING. Stress makes you a pessimist. When you feel stressed, there’s a good chance you’re focused on all your problems, on everything that could go wrong, or on how unfair your life is. Pay attention when you start thinking these negative thoughts. Just because these are your thoughts, doesn’t mean you are right, objectively speaking. You need to break the pattern of looking at situations from a negative point of view. Instead, turn your thoughts around, find whatever is positive in the situation, and focus on that. Stress will vanish when you become more upbeat.
Here’s an example: If you go back to your dorm after class and find that your roommate left a mess, your current reaction may be anger, accompanied by tension and stress in your body. Instead, use the messy room as a chance to have the conversation you’ve been putting off. Let your roommate know that you aren’t going to clean up after them anymore and that they need to share in keeping things neat. The optimistic person finds the opportunity in the messy situation!
Number three: TAKE A BREAK. Do you sometimes find yourself sitting in the library for hours feeling stressed because you’re not getting enough done? That’s a common feeling. You may think that the best way to prepare for an exam or write a paper is to sit in one place for hours until you finish. Actually, that’s not true. Studies show that taking regular breaks and even changing your environment will increase your productivity. So, leave the library, take a walk, and get some fresh air. Get a snack, and talk to a friend. Take your books and find another spot to work. You will see that the break and/or change in scenery will refresh you, and you will be more focused and less stressed.
Number four: MINDFULNESS. What is mindfulness? It’s simply bringing your attention to what’s happening in the present moment. When you’re stressed you’re usually worrying about what you need to do in the future. You aren’t being present. To break that kind of stress, make yourself pay attention to what’s happening around you in the present. You can use your senses to help you focus on the present.
Here’s one method that works well: First, look around and name 5 things that you see. Second, touch and name 4 things you touched from where you are sitting or standing. Third, listen and name 3 things that you hear. Fourth, name 2 things that you smell. Fifth, name 1 thing that you taste. After using all of your senses you should feel more connected to the present moment and less stressed.
Will you remember these 4 easy and quick strategies for calming down and reducing stress? Here’s a mnemonic to help you out: BPTM….which stands for Be Prepared This Month (Breathe, Positive thinking, Take a break, Mindfulness) You can do it!