10 Ways to de-stress during exam term

Image credit: Dee Dee Lee

Despite not having exams myself, I know it is exam period because of the amount of exam-related memes that come up on my Facebook news feed. I feel you; I’ve been there, done that, and survived – so will you. Mental health is no less important than physical health. Stress is like a dementor, and here are 10 Patronus Charms that you can use against it.

1. Chocolate/Dessert therapy – There is a reason why “stressed” is “desserts” spelled backwards. Indulge in chocolate and dessert. Study actually shows that eating dark chocolate lowers levels of stress hormones in people feeling stressed out. Keep calm and drink hot chocolate.

2. Meditate – There are scientific benefits of meditation but I’m not going to waste your time on them. Put on some soft background music and sit or lie comfortably. Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breathing and listen to your body. It doesn’t have to be long, start with 3-5 minutes. If you fall asleep, just sleep.

3. Sleep – You might be sacrificing your sleep to study, I understand, desperate times call for desperate measures. But don’t ever underestimate the importance of sleep. Power naps actually improve memory and productivity. A good night’s sleep can definitely reduce stress levels.

4. Take a hot shower – Most of us living in college accommodation probably wouldn’t have access to a bath, but a hot shower will do the same. Taking a shower in the morning wakes you up; a hot shower before bedtime relaxes all those tense muscles and helps you sleep better.

5. Get a massage – I know it’s pricey but it’s worth it. I get really tense shoulders sometimes, and if stretching and yoga don’t help, it’s best to go to the professionals and let them give you a hand (or two). They do student discount on Monday to Wednesday at Glassworks Health Club.

6. Get in touch with nature – I cannot explain what nature does to our mind, body and soul, it just has this calming power that helps us recuperate. Put down your books, switch off your phone, take a walk, drop by the Botanic Gardens, cycle to Granchester or go and sit by the river. Pro: it’s free. Con: weather-permitting.

7. Eat healthily – I know cooking takes time and energy but eating well will make you feel better and hence study better. Snack on fruits and nuts. Drink plenty of water. Cooking salmon and frozen pizza in the oven takes about the same amount of time – trust me, it’s my favourite quick fix (I mean the salmon).

8. Get out – Staying indoors too long is actually unhealthy. Leave your room/the library for a break, for fresh air, for some sun, or for a run. If you’re a sleeping beauty, this might be your cure; getting outdoors for at least 45 minutes in the morning helps knock your body out of sleep mode.

9. Talk to people – I know this might be the last thing you want to do when you’re stressed and grumpy, especially if you’re an introvert. But socialising and talking to people keeps you sane. Talk about your problems if you want, or avoid it if that makes you feel better, or chat about that cutie in the library!

10. Hug/cuddle – This is my favourite. Cuddling releases stress-easing oxytocin, which relieves anxiety and strengthens the immune system. So what are you waiting for?

I hope this helps, and may the odds be ever in your favour.

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