Improving your Mental Health and Lowering your Stress Levels as the Semester comes to a Close
As our last weeks on campus for the semester are here and finals are drawing closer, it is more important than ever to keep a healthy balance between school work and personal well being. I know that cramming in final projects and studying for exams takes up a lot of time, but it is also important to check in with ourselves and do something that relaxes us and makes us happy amidst the chaos.
The first thing that you can do to insure your mind is in a better place is to get an adequate amount of sleep; the recommended amount of sleep for adults is a minimum of 7-9 hours. Getting a good night’s rest is very important because it cleanses your body and improves your cognitive function, which by default will lead to you doing better on tests and under pressure. It also feels great to wake up to a new day from a refreshing night of sleep. Here are some things that I find helpful to sleep well.
- Try to turn off your phone at least 30 minutes before you go to bed! We spend so much of our days plugged into the internet, and it is important to take a break from it. Some alternative ways to spend this time before you fall asleep – listen to a podcast, read a book, take a shower, listen to music or play an instrument, journal, reflect on your day or make some art.
- Do not eat right before you go to bed! I know that this may be difficult (It is sometimes very hard for me to do, too) but it is very important so the functions that your body needs to complete during the night can be carried out. If you are using your energy while sleeping on digesting food then you have less energy to expend on your body doing it’s natural self cleanse, and you are more likely to have a light sleep and an upset stomach.
- Dim the lights in the room before sleeping! If you have bright lights on right before you go to sleep it can alter your body’s circadian rhythm, making your body think that it is still the day and it is not time to sleep yet.
Being outside is an incredible way to reduce stress and improve both your physical and mental health. Studies have shown that being in nature reduces anxiety and depression, and if you are active outside it also improves your physical wellbeing. Some things that I like to do while being outside-
- Go on a walk or a hike! There are plenty of parks near campus to go to, and this walk does not have to be strenuous for it to benefit you.
- Hang out with your friends! My friends and I love to have picnics outside on Hunt Hill and at Gypsy Hill Park. This is a great way to experience nature while being social and having fun.
- Take your homework or anything that you are working on, but do it outside! I love working on papers and reading my textbooks in my dorm’s courtyard; having an ambiance that is not the walls of a dorm room definitely makes the process slightly more manageable, and even a little bit enjoyable.
Spend some time doing a creative outlet! Everyone has different activities or pass times they enjoy, and spending time doing these hobbies/activities is a great way to reduce stress and tension. Some outlets and stress relieving activities that you might enjoy-
- Sing, or listen to music!
- Make some art!
- Exercise! This activity may not seem stress relieving for everyone, but I always feel more productive if I work out in the mornings.
- Write or read!
- Cook or eat some food that you enjoy!
- Watch a movie, or have a relaxing night!
This is most definitely not a comprehensive list of ways that you can relax and improve your mental health during these last weeks of school, but I hope that some of these suggestions can be applied to help you succeed as this semester comes to a close. Remember – having a positive mindset is half of the battle! Try to go into your tests believing that you will do a good job, because if you repeat negative feelings or outcomes enough you will begin to speak them into existence. I hope that some of these activities and concepts can help to put you in a more positive headspace for the weeks to come! Good luck on the rest of your semester – you WILL do great!
See you next year!