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Squashing Student Stress with Healthy Habits

Recharge, reduce tension, fight fatigue, find focus, clear your mind

Someone once said, “If you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?”

We all have stress. What you do about it or how you react to it determines whether that stress is a detriment to you and your body, or motivates you to achieve at your best.

College students know best what it’s like to pull an all-nighter glued to flash cards, consume caffeine, have pizza for breakfast, give a presentation months in the making, take a cumulative exam, serve at an internship, consume more caffeine, write a research paper, and finally reunite with their pillow - all in one day!

There is hope to recharge and reduce tension

Getting into healthy habits before the storm of stress hits is ideal - who wants to stress about how to reduce stress WHILE you are stressed?

Let this be your go-to guide. Even during those busy times, the following simple tips can be quick and easy to squeeze into your day. Your mind and body will thank you for it.

Tip #1: Don’t burn the midnight oil. GO TO SLEEP.

It seems obvious, right? But we all know how convincing the idea of staying up to cram more studying or homework into our day is. We think it will save us for paying for it with more work the next day. But we do end up paying for it, one way or another.

Our bodies are our most valuable assets, and lack of sleep impacts your body and functioning more than you might realize:

  • Sleep allows our brains to recharge and our bodies to rest
  • Sleep is what allows proper memory consolidation in addition to playing a crucial role in mood and judgment
  • A good night's sleep can help decrease a person’s anxiety and boost emotional stability

Tip #2: Get up and move!

Despite the volumes of messages we get about the endless benefits of exercise, sometimes it’s hard to actually follow through. We know all too well what goes through our minds: I don’t have time, I need to prioritize school, I will start when (fill in time in distant future that never seems to come around), I’m not good at sports, I don’t have the energy today, I would rather be relaxing when I have free time, and so on.

But our bodies were built to move, and they thank us for it endlessly after a workout.

We need to change the way we THINK about exercise - it doesn’t have to mean going to the gym. Exercise can be incorporating movement to your daily life. Simplify it. Your mind is in charge of what your body does. Decide to get moving, and your body will follow. It’s that simple.

Physical activity helps to increase the body’s production of endorphins. So, release the day’s tensions with movement, start studying with a fresh mind, new focus, more optimism, and better attention. 

Tip #3: Keep calm and eat healthy

Make food your body’s friend and feed it foods that benefit it, not bring it down. Balanced nutrition plays an important role in our health under stressful conditions. Well-balanced meals will boost our resistance against the effects that stress brings upon the body.

Blood sugar spikes can often lead to abnormal behaviors such as tiredness, lapses in concentration, and mood swings. Try not to reach for the sweets. When craving comfort foods, try healthy alternatives such as dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, or oatmeal instead of sugary cereals.

Tip #3: Seek chiropractic treatment, acupuncture or massage

There are significant links between chiropractic, acupuncture and massage therapy and reduction of stress, as well as benefiting a variety of other conditions:

  • Relieves muscle tension, body aches, neck and back pain
  • Releases tension and clears your mind
  • Increases your immunity and helps strengthen your body
  • Reduces headaches, which are commonly a result of stress and muscle tension
  • Lowers your blood pressure
  • Controls insomnia, anxiety, depression and eating disorders
  • Eases heartburn, digestive issues and more

Tip #4: Find your Zen with yoga

More people are realizing yoga is more than about stretching. Controlling your breathing can help you control your body and quiet your mind.

Here’s what yoga can do for you:

  • Help reduce stress and anxiety
  • Enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being.

Hatha yoga, in particular, may be a good choice for stress management. Hatha is one of the most common styles of yoga, and beginners may like its slower pace and easier movements.

Northwestern Health Sciences University student, Kristen Tenwolde, contributed the research contained in this article.

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