By Samantha Armstrong/ AS Graduate Advisor
As a new quarter begins and we are all jolted back into the never-ending quest for balance between school, work, play, and a litany of other activities, I have already begun thinking about how to not only survive the quarter but also enjoy the journey. Some of the thinking I have been doing relates to how I am going to manage stress throughout the quarter. Typically, you might see an article or hear about how to manage your stress towards the end of the quarter, however, it is my opinion that for some of us this may be too late. Therefore, I thought I would be proactive in my quest for balance and research some stress management techniques that could help us all enjoy the journey this quarter.
Keep in mind that you may not be able to rid your life of stress simply through using the techniques below. In fact, if you are like me, you may require that little bit of stress that pushes you to excel or get a job done. This form of stress, the type that is pleasant, is known as eustress. Just be aware of what your physical and emotional limitations are and keep in mind that some of the techniques listed below, if you implement them, could prevent you from experiencing emotional or physical distress.
Exercise. When you exercise, you blow of steam and release endorphins. Make sure to make it fun; go with a friend or take a fitness class that is fun. In my opinion, if you are able to plug some type of fun into everything you do you are more likely to stick with it. If you are able to pencil in exercising on a regular basis, say at least three times a week, and if you make it fun, you are being proactive about your stress levels. My advice, hit the Rec Center… it is a glorious place to be, and it is possible for you to work out and fit your favorite TV show in at the same time!
Positive Self-Talk. Now there may be some of you that think talking to yourself is a bit much. I would encourage you to try some positive self-talk. Ask yourself how you are doing. Pump yourself up before a big presentation of test by telling yourself you can do it! But avoid telling yourself what all of your doubts are…that could hinder your performance.
Nutrition. Here is one that I am sure all of us have been drilled about! Part of the reason it is all around us is because good nutrition can make all the difference for some of us. Eating a balanced diet and sticking to the fruits and vegetables not only helps us stay physically healthy but, feel better emotionally and physically. If you are interested in how to change your dietary habits to make yourself feel better, I suggest consulting a professional dietitian.
Relaxation. There are several exercises that can lead to relaxation. Here are a few that have worked for me over the years– Get comfortable, close your eyes, breathe from the diaphragm. Be conscious about relaxing each part of your body.
Start at your scalp and move to your toes. Take 15 minutes and daydream about a special place. Try hearing the sounds or smelling the smells.Tense up all of your muscles for seven seconds or so and then relax them. Listen to calming music. Take a power nap. (I like to keep mine around 15 minutes.) Laugh, smile, and have some fun!
Remember to enjoy the journey this quarter, and please note that while these are proven techniques, they may not always work every time. Therefore, it is important for each individual to be self-aware and move beyond these techniques if necessary. Keep in mind that tapping into the tremendous staff housed in the WWU Counseling Center or the Tutorial and Academic Skills Center early on to learn more about how to manage your stress and time may help you head off those mid-quarter/end-of the quarter doldrums.