Alex Hudson/ Drug Information Center
Here’s a little secret about me. I love to eavesdrop on people’s conversations when I’m on campus. You learn the most interesting things this way. What I have learned this week is that Western students are super stressed. I’ve overheard people talking about not sleeping, not eating, feeling overwhelmed, and I’ve also noticed a lot of sweatpants. None of these are good signs.
Winter quarter is tough for Western students. The weather sucks, there isn’t enough light, the quarter is shorter than the others, and a lot of people are broke from the holidays. Also, a lot of people have graduation on the mind, and are taking graduate school exams. Whatever your reason is, it’s fairly unanimous that Winter Quarter is for the birds.
There are plenty of ways students try and blow off steam. Caffeine, pills, booze, weed, just to name a few. But the thing is, there are plenty of ways to de-stress that won’t leave you with a wicked hangover or a foggy head. I know all kinds of little tricks on how to unwind, maintain your sanity, and Ace all your exams. Well, at least get B pluses.
There is a trio of good behavior which will help contribute to overall well–being. All of them are easy and within your reach and in your control.
First, make sure you get enough sleep. I know that it seems like there isn’t time to sleep, but trust me, if you get enough of the stuff, the rest of your life will seem a lot less hectic. Don’t think of sleep as a luxury. It’s not like it’s finals week.
Easier said than done though right? When I’m stressed out, I can hardly get to sleep, let alone make sure I’m getting my daily dose of eight hours of the stuff. I found some sweet tips which I put into practice, and I must say that lately I have been escorted away to dreamland with ease.
Before you go to sleep make a list of everything you have to get done the next day. This will help keep your mind from racing about all the things you have to do. You kind of symbolically let it go or something. I don’t know how much I believe that stuff, but it works.
Make sure you aren’t consuming coffee, soda pop or sugary foods before you are trying to hit the hay. You won’t sleep as deeply and won’t get the valuable REM sleep your body needs to rejuvenate itself. This goes for sleeping pills as well, which will knock you out, but make it hard to be bright eyed and bushy tailed the next day.
Aromatherapy can help here as well, especially lavender. Turn your boudoir into a Zen palace with some scented candles and soft light, take about 10 minutes to be real still and quiet before you hop into the sack, and you’ll find that you get the beauty sleep you need to really conquer the day.
Exercise is also extremely important for not freaking out all the time and being happy, healthy, and relatively sane. Working out mega tough helps burn off the stored up adrenaline and toxins and produces endorphins, which stimulates your brain and makes you alert. Feeling the burn also stimulates your immune system, which keeps you from getting the nasty chest cold that’s been going around.
Luckily, the Student Rec Center is open early and late, so no matter what your schedule is, you can find half an hour or so to sweat your stress away. If the gym isn’t your thing, take a clue from Fraggle Rock and dance your cares away in your living room. Early Madonna is good for this.
The third pillar of a stress-reduced lifestyle is nutrition. I know that when you are pressed for time, it’s easy to just grab some random crap food and wolf-it down. Being stressed throws our eating off as many of us try to eat our emotions. Don’t do it man!
Eat lots of fruits and veggies, stick to seasonal foods, and don’t forget to drink lots of water. Dehydration can give you headaches, tummy aches, and prompt your body to hold onto toxins.
The Wellness Outreach Center on the fourth floor of the Viking Union has a S.A.D. light, which mimics the natural light spectrum of the sun and helps rejuvenate the soul during the dark winter months. They occasionally offer stress management classes, and have free tea which is delicious. Stop by their office and get hooked up.
Another little tip from me to you is to be selfish. Take some time and do something fun and relaxing for yourself. Trying to micro-manage every minute of your life will just burn you out. Go and see Pan’s Labyrinth or check out the American Museum of Radio. After all that Chemistry homework, you deserve it. Just be sure to get back to the grindstone when the time comes.
Keep on rocking bros.