Art by Peau Protesano
If you’re like most Pepperdine students, you’re under a fair amount of stress right now. You may be on the second round of midterms, preparing for finals, or even stressing about jobs and graduation. It’s completely understandable if you’re dying of anxiety. However, large amounts of stress can be damaging to your health, as well as your grades, and it’s important to alleviate stress before it swallows you up. Follow these tips to get rid of stress before it eats you alive.
Yes, I know. When you’re crazy busy, you might not have the time to spend hours at the gym working out. But even a few minutes of exercise a day can seriously reduce stress. Exercise releases endorphins, which will calm you down and improve your mood. And you don’t have to go running for hours to get the benefits. Twenty minutes of yoga or a short uphill hike will release your feel-good neurotransmitters and help you relax for the rest of the day.
Meditation has been around for centuries, and once you try it, it’s easy to see why. The practice of clearing your mind and just being still for a few minutes can help to alleviate stress, as well as promote health and well-being. Meditation involves sitting in a quiet place and focusing on steady, even breathing, for anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes at at time. When stressful thoughts enter your brain, you acknowledge them, and then send them away. While it may take some practice before you can sit stress-free for 10 whole minutes, in the long run, mediation will keep your stress levels down and help you lead a more relaxed life.
Much like exercise, laughing releases endorphins that will calm your stress and make you feel happier and more relaxed. People who laugh more have been shown to live longer, healthier lives, according to the Psychology Today article “Does Humor Make You Live Longer?” by William Klemm, published July 25, 2013. Laughter improves cardiovascular health, dulls pain, and yes, alleviates anxiety. So spend some time with your funniest friends, or turn on Netfilx and find a show guaranteed to make you laugh (the author recommends “30 Rock” or “Parks and Recreation”). Not only will this provide you with a needed break, but you will feel much better afterward.
Some stress in your life can be beneficial, but too much has been linked to all sorts of health and performance problems. If you’re so stressed out you can barely control your thoughts, you’re not going to be able to study as well as you normally would. So try these short and simple activities the next time you start to feel overwhelmed. Stress relief doesn’t have to be some big ordeal; a short comedy video on YouTube or a quick walk around the block will do wonders for your health.
Follow Jessica Kerner on Twitter: @The_Kernster