6 Stress-Busting Ideas for the New School Year
A new school year is usually accompanied by increased stress. New routines, changes in your living situation, meeting new people, and homework are just some of the factors that contribute to higher levels of cortisol, the hormone the body releases in response to constant periods of stress. In other words, most of us just have too much going on, and our body is trying to tell us that a little balance and rejuvenation are needed to enjoy optimum health.
Warning signs of stress overload include lethargy, weakness, headaches, and even digestive problems. Stress has a tendency to creep in, without us consciously realizing that it is the cause of our feeling ill or tired. If these symptoms sound familiar to you, the stress-busting tips below can help you manage your stress before it controls your life.
1) Limit Your Commitments
You might feel like this is your year to make a difference or to become the wonder kid of the college campus. However, placing extremely high expectations on yourself can be detrimental to your health. View your wellbeing as important as your legacy, and be balanced. Don’t be afraid to say “no” if you have too many things to deal with.
2) Set Priorities
If homework or laundry is piling up, make a list in order of priority and, as you accomplish each item, cross it off. A feeling of accomplishment can go a long way to calming anxiety and stress caused by a heavy workload.
3) Eat Right
A diet that includes foods that promote the release of serotonin, our body’s calming hormone, can help reduce stress. The good news? Pure dark chocolate has been proven to boost serotonin levels and reduce stress. A diet that is balanced with whole grains, lean protein, and essential nutrients will also do wonders.
4) Get Enough Sleep
Does sleeping your way through a hectic back-to-school schedule sound too good to be true? That just might be what it takes. Getting a sufficient amount of sleep, 7 to 8 hours a night, is only half the battle. Research shows that it’s just as important to get quality, deep sleep to benefit from your rest. Going to bed and waking up around the same time each day is also recommended. Altering your sleep/wake cycle can reduce energy and affect your overall health.
Make exercise a regular part of your routine, whether it’s walking to and from school, or playing frisbee with friends. A regular workout not only helps regulate weight and keep your heart healthy, it also releases hormones that fight stress.
6) Take Time for Yourself
Treat yourself to a walk in the park, a short catnap, or a good book. Rest and recreation counteract stress and relieve mental and physical exhaustion. So don’t forget to schedule ‘me’ time to renew and rejuvenate yourself.
We can’t eliminate all causes of stress in our lives, and some stress is even beneficial. What we can do is learn to take care of ourselves and manage stress so that it works for us and not against us. Top off these stress-busting ideas with a relaxing massage or by watching your favourite comedy, and you’ll be laughing your way through back-to-school mayhem.