As any Mira Loma student will tell you, school can be extremely stressful. From social relations to academic pressure, high schoolers, in general, have to cope with a lot of stress. This is especially true as the semester ends, with finals coming up and test grades mattering more than ever. Here is a list of ten ways to help relieve your stress a bit:
- Take a break
Studying for that test, or finishing that essay you’ve been procrastinating on all week is important, but it is also important to remember to take a break every once in a while. Taking breaks gives your mind a moment to relax. Your mind works a lot like every other part of your body, and just like every other part of your body, it needs to take breaks to continue working at peak condition. Get a quick snack, play the guitar, sketch something in your notebook, or listen to music. Don’t just start watching youtube videos, unless you have incredible self control and can guarantee that you won’t end up going down the Youtube rabbit hole for several hours. While this number one tip may seem obvious, it really is one of the best solutions to help with declining mental health.
You’ve probably heard this everywhere from the internet to your parents, but that is for good reason. Without sleep, your brain cannot function to its full capacity, whatever you may think. When sleep-deprived, you will find it difficult to learn and are far less productive than you would be on a good night’s sleep. Studies show that a good night’s sleep may be better for your performance on an exam than staying up studying for it. Try your best to aim for 8 hours every night, and take short power naps when you need them.
- Be more positive
However cliché this may sound, the mindset in which you work will greatly impact your productivity. People who are more optimistic will do better because they believe in themselves. Your mind is a force to be reckoned with, and all action you take comes from motivation generated by your mind. If you think you will do badly on the next test, chances are you might just live up to those beliefs.
- Take a deep breath
Drowning in assignments and studying for upcoming tests can be very overwhelming. Give yourself a moment to stop for a bit and take a deep, slow breath. Studies show that taking a deep breath slows your heartbeat, stabilizes blood pressure, and lowers stress. Simply find a comfortable place to sit, take a breath through your nose, and then exhale through your mouth. Everything will be just fine; you got this.
- Listen to music
When you’re taking your break, or when you’re studying, oftentimes it is difficult to stay on track. To say that it is easy to get distracted would be an understatement. Music can help you focus on the assignment you’re doing, and make sure you’re working in a good mindset. With a constant stream of mood-heightening music in the background, you’ll be more motivated to work. Make sure the music is purely instrumental though—Lofi, smooth jazz, and classical are all great choices.
- Clean and organize
A messy environment is distracting, and will constantly keep you off task. Take a few minutes to clean up your work area. Hang the clothes on your chair, vacuum the rug sitting right next to you, or reorganize the pens that have been cluttering your desk. Additionally, keeping your assignments organized through to-do lists and planners will make it easier to get started. After all, you can’t start your work if you don’t even know what you’re supposed to be doing.
- Stop procrastinating
Seriously, stop procrastinating. And yes, I am largely directing this at myself. Putting off tasks won’t get them done any faster. It’s easy to say “stop procrastinating” but putting it into practice is a bit more difficult. Start by changing your mindset. Think of all the essays you’ve completed in the past, the night it was due. If you can do it in one night and still get a passing grade, imagine what you can accomplish in a week. Catch yourself when you start to make excuses. If you need to, create small incentives for yourself with snacks or fun activities.
- Break your problems into smaller tasks
A more practical way of coping with stress is to take your projects or larger assignments and break them down into smaller, more doable tasks. Large assignments can be intimidating, and hard to even start. Splitting the project into small parts will make it easier to complete each part, and you’ll be done before you know it! This is also where an organized planner or calendar will come into play.
This probably doesn’t sound very kind or useful at first glance. However, talking to someone who is willing to listen to all of your problems will help you realize that your problems aren’t quite as intimidating as you thought. You will likely also find that a lot of your peers or friends are going through the same stress, and sharing your feelings can help alleviate the burden. Additionally, transferring your thoughts into spoken (or written) words will make things much easier to process.
Last but definitely not least, is exercise. Exercising regularly will help you focus and boost your mood. If you don’t want to go on a mile run or lift weights you can just take a brief walk and enjoy the fresh air. Exercising will help clear your mind and put you in a more positive mood.
These top ten tips, as simple as they may sound, will help you focus, increase your productivity, and limit the amount of stress you have to deal with. During finals season, when you start to feel the stress kicking in, make sure to try implementing one or two of these. Good luck on your finals Matadors!