Stress levels are at an all-time high this time of year, especially with final exams right around the corner. Most people experience physical symptoms of stress but they don’t always know how to identify them or, more importantly, how to manage them. This article discusses common physical responses to stress, and some strategies for stress relief.
When I’m overly stressed, one of my biggest indicators of that stress is when I’m having trouble sleeping. I have found that limiting screen time half an hour before bed has been most effective in combating this. I also keep an emergency supply of melatonin gummies on my bedside table and wear a sleep mask at night. When you’re exhausted, your reactions to other stressful situations are likely to be exacerbated , so getting enough sleep is crucial.
Headaches are a common symptom of stress and can sometimes be the most debilitating symptom. Speaking from experience, I can hardly focus when I’m down with a bad headache, which ends up stressing me out even more. Advil is great for short-term relief, but there are other things you can do to prevent stress-related headaches from occurring in the first place. Drinking water, getting enough sleep, and eating healthy, balanced meals have proven really effective in combatting these headaches.
Many people experience an elevated heart rate when they’re experiencing high-stress levels. This is mainly because our bodies release cortisol and adrenaline in response to stress. One of the most common remedies for this symptom is listening to relaxing music during stressful tasks. Other techniques include practicing breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga.
Most college students experience stress throughout the entire semester, but especially towards its end with the approaching deadlines, final grades, and semester exams. It can take a huge toll on your ability to function in day-to-day life, so it’s important to know when stress is becoming a problem and learn how to manage it.
It’s that point in the semester where everything seems dreadful and mentally draining. So here’s a gentle reminder that it’s okay to take a break from schoolwork and relax. What are some ways to do that? You’ve come to the right place because I’ve got a list!
Watch something you love:
We’ve all got a comfort show that always puts us in a good mood. Having a good laugh can help relieve stress after tense study sessions. Even if it isn’t a comedy, watching something that makes you happy is what matters, whether that be true crime or cartoons. Pro tip: anything on Disney + is great for a pick-me-up, tbh.
Sometimes we’re so caught up in homework that we disregard the nine unread books that lie idly sitting on our shelf. Try reading one of them, or maybe finishing the one you already started. Reading books is a good way to pass time, and forget about everything else happening in the world. You’re stuck in someone else’s fantasy when you read, hopefully, a good one. And hey, at least it’s not your schoolwork!
Enjoy your favorite comfort foods
Just the other day, I made matcha-white chocolate chip cookies with my sister and instantly felt better after eating them. After hours of homework, eating something nice is rewarding. Treat yourself, even if that means ordering that expensive Uber Eats meal. Trust me; you deserve it
Play a fun game
When I want a small break, I crack open the good ol’ Nintendo Switch and play a game. Lately, I’ve been playing “Kirby and the Forgotten Land” for a bit of fun before returning to homework. Of course, it doesn’t have just to console games but could be board games, cards, or whatever you find fun. Cool math games, anyone?
Take a nap
Nothing feels better than a nice nap! Don’t force yourself to stay awake if you’re exhausted and haven’t gotten enough rest. Naps aren’t a waste of time if you use them wisely. Your work can wait till you’re in a better mental and physical state. Go rest!
Let it out!
When in doubt, scream, sigh or sing, as it will all relieve that pent-up stress. If you’re able, go ahead and just let out a good scream. If not, sighing works too, as it relieves tension in the upper body. Maybe, you feel the need to sing your favorite song, such as “As It Was” by Harry Styles or “Pied Piper” by BTS (my current favorites). Doing so helps release endorphins and hormones like oxytocin, putting you in a better mood.
When things get tough as finals approach, make sure to take a break. Burnout hits pretty hard and can take a toll on your mental health. Everything on this list has personally helped me feel better during burnout season, and I hope it helps you too. Remember, you’ve got this, and we’re almost there!
Mug cakes are a great way to start the week and the Cookist has some amazing recipes to choose from. Whether you’re craving a vegan, paleo, or vanilla cake, there are many variations of this easy and delicious dish to try out and enjoy.. Most of the ingredients can be picked up at your local Dobie Target!
If you’re in a rush and have no time to make all these recipes then we have a solution for you: Betty Crocker. The company has a bunch of different mug cakes that are ready within minutes. Just add milk or water, and pop it in the microwave. Did I mention each box is less than $3?
If you really want to treat yourself checkout Polkadots Cupcake Factory. Their store is only a quick drive or bus ride away from campus. Although they may be a little pricey with $3.65 per cupcake, their 98 Google ratings say they’re more than worth it. Popular favorite flavors include Red Velvet, Confetti, and Chocolate.
This 10 minute recipe by Lauren Allen is a fantastic choice for students. This is especially geared towards those students who live in the dorms since this is a no-bake dish. While some of the ingredients might be a little pricey, HEB has all the ingredients you need for much less than other retailers.
Want a study space and a yummy treat all in one? Why not buy a Tiramisu slice ($3.49) at Whole Foods on Lamar? There are plenty of seats outside and inside with ambient music. If you can’t find a place to sit, there is a Starbucks right across the street as well.
It’s Dinner time and you still haven’t eaten cause you’ve been super busy from all that studying. (or procrastinating) Whichever it is, why not check out UTea Pho and grab a tiramisu slice for dessert after your meal? Perhaps use this as an opportunity to have a “study and dine date” with that zoom cutie from class.
If you’re lucky enough to have a waffle maker and want a fun breakfast dessert then why not make some waffles? You probably haven’t used it that much since class has been taking so much of your time. So, why not give it and yourself some love by making some yummy yummy waffles. (side note: You don’t even have to eat them just for breakfast!!)
While not as delicious as the other options, this one is the fastest and cheapest ! Pop it into the microwave or toaster oven and voila dessert/breakfast is served. Add some whipped cream, fruits, or some syrup to make it taste even better. Personally, I think some vanilla ice cream would go amazing with this delicious meal !
If you have the time and want to really treat yourself, Mary’s cafe is said to have some of the best waffles in Austin! This is also a great option for those of us without cars since it is just a quick 15 minute bus ride away from campus. Each waffle is about $6.75 🙂
After eating all those yummy desserts this week, you might be looking for something just a little healthier today. Why not make yourself a fruit tart? Delish has a yummy recipe that is easy and delicious.
If you’re studying at the Austin Public Library and are looking for a little reward for all those hours of studying. Trader Joe’s is just a short walk away and their Raspberry tarte is absolutely delicious. (If they don’t have any tartes, they have a plethora of other amazing desserts for you to try.)
Mozart’s Coffee is a favorite for just about anyone. Did you know that they also carry fruit tartes? Well, they do! A view, a study space, delicious coffee and a great fruit or lemon tart, what more could you ask for?
It is finally Friday and you have made it through the week! Treat yourself this morning with a homemade fruit parfait. A quick, easy, and customizable desert that can appeal to anyone. You can add just about anything to a cup of yogurt ! My personal favorite toppings are almonds, granola, raspberries, strawberries, and a little bit of chocolate.
If all these options don’t seem to interest you then head out and have some plain ol’ ice cream. Choose your own toppings and flavors. Tropical Dreams is an ice cream store located right behind Dobie and has a bunch of unique ice cream flavors. Some interesting flavors include Ginger, Macadamia Coconut, and Mango Cream.
It is finally the weekend and you’re done with finals! It is time to crash and rewind as you prepare for the next week. As you remember all the amazing and delicious desserts you ate this week, you think to yourself why not try 5 different healthy smoothies next week to detox the body and mind from all the semester stress.
Good luck on your finals everyone and remember to treat yourself through these stressful times. 🙂