Lovely: How to rejuvenate after a long term
After a grueling winter term, any college student could agree we need some relaxation time. We need to kick our heels up, put cucumbers over our eyes and put our troubles behind us. But with only a weeklong break between terms, we need relaxation that is going to de-stress us, but also revamp us to get ready for the final push of spring term. Thankfully, there are ways to do just that.
The first thing that any college student should do to de-stress is sleep. After all-nighter study sessions, over-caffeinating and forcing our brains to cram ten weeks of learning into one night, a couple good nights of sleep is exactly what is needed. The best way to do this is to go to sleep earlier than normal and let your body’s natural alarm wake you up, not the one on your phone. The recommended hours of sleep for young adults age 18-25 is seven to nine hours. Not getting enough sleep? Staying active and laying in bed without the distraction of a phone can help. Sleep should not be the only thing that you do during break, however. Spending too much time sleeping in late can cause the break to feel like it was not long enough, and make it seem like the day has been slept away. After a few days of waking up naturally, try setting an alarm to wake up earlier to start your day. This can help the days of your break feel longer, and your biological clock get back into a healthy routine.
The second — and probably most advertised — stress reliever is exercise. But finding the motivation to exercise every day after a long term is difficult. This is why the best way to exercise during Spring Break is to do things that you enjoy. UO Strength and Conditioning coach Mark Davis agrees, “The most important thing is to do something that you enjoy. If you are going into a workout dreading what you’re going to do, switch it up! It will change your whole attitude towards your workout.” Things like swimming, yoga, bike riding and even walking. Make it fun! Go with friends or family, or make it a competition. Create a steps competition or go on a bike ride to go get lunch. Getting any form of exercise 30 minutes three to four times a week is the best way to reduce your stress throughout the week. Even going outside and walking in the fresh air for 20 minutes is better than nothing and will make a difference. Another component of exercise that will benefit your stress levels is allowing your body to create your own energy through exercise; these are called endorphins. Avoiding coffee, energy drinks and other unnatural caffeine stimulants give the body energy but then, because they are unnatural, give our bodies a crash. The more you exercise and create your own natural energy and the less you allow your body to go through artificial highs and lows of energy, the less stress you will feel.
Don’t Overexert Yourself
In anticipation for break, it is easy to create a crazy schedule that is full of activities. It’s important to take some time to relax. Clear your schedule and take a few minutes to enjoy the fact that there are no deadlines or finals staring you in the face. If you spread your schedule too thin, your break will go by very fast and it will feel like you didn’t even get a break. Even if you do have plans for your whole week, take a few moments to breathe. Meditation or simply deep breathing for a few minutes can be done any time of day and can reduce someone’s overall stress and blood pressure immensely. Anyone can do this simply by sitting in a quiet room, breathing slowly and mentally practicing letting go of your stress. Rejuvenating yourself to feel ready for next term during Spring Break can be as simple as doing this once a day for a few minutes.
Another way to relax and make the break feel stress-free and fun is by setting goals for yourself throughout it. Simple things like getting over 10,000 steps a day using the health app on your iPhone or hanging out with your friends and family at least once to catch up over the break. Or fun things like making a project or trying new foods are goals that you can set for your break to give yourself optimal time and relaxation. One of the best things you can do is make a goal to laugh every day; whether that is by watching a funny movie, hanging out with friends, or even listening to comedians. Laughing has been found to lower stress while increasing the good type of cholesterol called High-density lipoprotein (HDL). This cholesterol provides stability of the cells, helps to remove bad cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease.
Another goal that is extremely health beneficial is unplugging from your technology devices for a few hours a day. Doing this can relieve the anxiety and stress that follows computers and phones everywhere they go. A fun way of doing this is by playing the phone game with friends. Typically this is done out at dinner, but this could be done just as a friendly competition to see who can go the longest without the temptation of checking their device.
It’s also important to try not to soak your winter term stress in alcohol. While the stereotypical college Spring Break is fueled on alcohol, binge drinking during the week will be fun, but it’s another way to experience a crash in energy. It will make the break seem like it flew by in a flash and you will only remember half of it.
Doing something for yourself every day is a gratifying thing anyone can do to relieve stress. Whether it be taking a nap, going on a drive or eating a yummy snack, doing something you love can be beneficial to your mental health. Take a couple hours to color, dance in your underwear or do some karaoke. There are lots of things someone can do that cost no money that would be treats for anyone. There are also lots of delicious stress relieving foods you can snack on like avocado, bananas, dark chocolate, tuna, salmon, pretzels or yogurt. Giving yourself a minute to do something fun for yourself can relieve stress levels. This is also something that you can do once spring term begins, to keep you going throughout the rest of the school year.
These methods of relieving stress can all be done to create personalized ways to decompress after winter term. You should relax enough to feel like you are not stressed from the demanding term behind us, but be active enough to feel like you utilized the week off. The goal is to get energy to push through the last bit of the year we have left, with the confidence to finish strong.
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