No, this post is absolutely NOT about how to stay stressed. I don’t think ANYONE needs help in that department. 😉
Today I want to talk about what to do (well, what I do) when the hours in your day seem to plummet and your to-do list runs circles around you. As you know, I’m currently studying for these tiny little exams called DIPLOMAS worth 50 PERCENT of my grade. As in, half of the mark that I submit to universities is based upon three (extremely difficult, stressful) hours of my life. Peachy. Every free second (literally) of this past week I have spent STUDYING. Non. Freaking. Stop. I’ve also had to fit in work and actual social interaction (yes, really). And I also worked out! Want to know how it’s possible? Don’t turn off your computer.
1. Maintain perspective. This is probably the MOST important one, which is why it is listed first! Yes, my exams and his promotion and her wedding are absolutely important, but the world is not going to lose its gravitational field and plummet into deep space if something goes wrong. Keep working as hard as you can, but remember that there are other things in life besides what is causing you stress.
2. Break it up. I’m not here to tell you that endorphins and exercise increase blood flow to the brain and yadda yadda yadda. That’s been said before! However, while that is true, simply breaking up your routine helps IMMENSELY. With my situation, I rotate through subjects and units within a subject. For example, with biology, I broke down the year into twelve sections. So then, on Monday, say, I only have to study transcription, translation, and protein synthesis. I’m not overwhelmed and I feel accomplished the entire time.
Another way to break it up is (yes) through exercise! The endorphins will boost your mood, energize you, and power you through a few solid hours of productivity. Not to mention the fact that maintaining a healthy lifestyle will make you feel better throughout the stressful period and allow you to handle it better! Versus completely stopping caring for yourself completely and becoming more and more unequipped to handle life’s curveballs.
Do something you love! It will make you feel better, happier, and less resentful of the work you are doing. I personally LOVE baking, so I do that when I feel myself fading as well. Remember, there is NO point in staring at a page for hours if nothing is sinking in!
Perhaps during tomorrow’s biology marathon, these will be back in my life.
3. While we’re on the health topic, please sleep. I absolutely did not follow my own advice on this one and got five hours per night MAX Monday-Thursday night, with maaaaaybe 6 on Friday. I essentially had a breakdown Saturday night (shocker). The benefits from the extra eight definitions you memorized or pages of work you got done are ultimately cancelled out by exhaustion AND you are more likely to crash later, wasting more time. Talk about counter-productive!
4. And eat well! Yes, healthy foods will help your body withstand stress. Anthocyanins in berries boost your memory, and so do kale, salmon, and nuts.
Whole grains, lean meat, and dairy all contain selenium, which is an important stress-fighting antioxidant.
But what about your soul? Sugar is addictive because it makes us feel better – so indulge! Just don’t do it out of desperation, or because you are hoping that it will make you feel better about your stress. Small, temporary, occasional sugar highs = yay, fun! Binges = worse fatigue and stress. More is not better!
5. Take a chill pill. Stressing for an extended period of time stimulates your adrenal glands to release cortisol, the “stress hormone” that increases insulin resistance (making fat storage easier) and decreases immunity (meaning you could get sick and get even more stressed – see the vicious cycle?) But you can easily minimize the amount released by your body by just relaxing.
6. Caffeinate. Studies have shown that caffeine stimulates neurons, and increases memory retention and reaction time! So enjoy that americano or cappuccino blissfully. Relax, and you’ll be killing two birds with one stone! I’m going to be a bit of a snob here and recommend that you go to a cafe that uses high-quality coffee or espresso beans (or buy your own!), but at the end of the day do what works for you.
And your favourite caffienated beverage?