De-stress to impress: How to destress as a student

JAMIE CHEN / AGGIE

Tips to organize your life better to reduce stress levels

Transitioning into college or even just living up to the demands and reality of university life are often credited as being large stressors in the lives of young adults. Not only do students have to maintain their GPA’s, but they also feel obligated to maintain healthy, active social lives, all while trying to eat well and exercise regularly.

When it comes to managing stress levels, there are quite a few techniques that students say come in handy when they feel increasingly overwhelmed.

So when it comes to decreasing these newfound stress levels in students, there are two areas that are said to encourage relaxation and confidence in one’s schedule: physical health and mental health.

“I think finding a balance between school and self care is essential to one’s happiness,” said third-year art history major, Kennedy Field. “If one is not taking care of themselves mentally and physically, not only will they not perform to capacity scholastically, but they will probably find themselves amidst a mental health crisis. I find it sad that one of the things student neglect when they are overwhelmed is self care.”

Physical health is obtainable through campus resources such as the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC), as well as in apartment complex gyms or simple walks in the Arboretum, but students often feel that working out is difficult to fit into their schedules. When students are tired, it is difficult to push themselves to work out.

“I just feel uninspired to work out, mostly if my head feels congested, like there’s too many thoughts,” said second-year political science and English double major, Dylan Chicorel.

Even if you’re the kind of person who wakes up 10 minutes before class and eats Skittles for breakfast, there are still ways to incorporate these two facets of physical and mental health into your routine

“I manage my time by maintaining a schedule,” Chicorel said. “Sometimes things go awry and I have to improvise, which is frankly most of the time, however when managing my time and health, I’m just optimistic that everything will be alright.”

You don’t necessarily have to wake up at sunrise and run in the morning, but you could take some time during the day to blare out some tunes, put on those headphones and just run, walk or be active for 20 minutes. The Arboretum is a pretty scenic and popular spot for a lot of runners in the morning and evening.

“As much as I hate it, [running] but I feel like I just have to run when I’m stressed,“ said Jessica Chen UC Davis alumna. “It’s a pretty basic thing, nothing too phenomenal.”  

The ARC caters to students who wish to work out indoors or at night. It’s open till 12 a.m. most days and has equipment to get in a quick cardio workout.

“They [The ARC] have everything, and it’s a good place to work out,” said second-year wildlife and conservation biology major, Laura Poikonen. “My roommate and I planned to go there, but we literally went twice and that was pretty much it.”

Students often feel tempted by junk food during the school year, due to its low prices and accessibility. Consuming copious amounts of caffeine and sugar may give you momentary gratification, but it’s going to hit you later and end up making you more anxious. (And then you’ll stress about eating junk food in the first place, then stress about stressing. You know the drill.)

“I try to stay away from it [junk food] as much as possible,” Field said. “I guess the only types of junk food I eat are pastries, which I tend to eat when I am stressed or pmsing.”

Especially in stressful times like midterms or finals, it is suggested that students steer clear of excessive sugar and eat more healthy foods like whole grains, vegetables and fruits, etc. This may be a hard thing to do, especially when you have a whole buffet of tempting treats available at the Dining Commons. However, looking at what nutritional benefits are present in other food options will allow for a more balanced diet.

“You should know why you’re eating healthy in the first place, whether it is just a diet or a lifestyle,” said third-year biochemistry major, Nency Patel. “Giving in to cravings once in a while is important, otherwise it can throw you completely off track and you give up your goal entirely. So don’t go too harsh on yourself.”

Having some kind of emotional support, whether it is just being with your friends while you all sit in silence on your phones and scroll through Twitter, is also important in reducing stress. Just being in the presence of others can be greatly comforting for some students.

“For me, I am a social person and when I talk, it releases my stress,” Patel said. “I used to stress out a lot, but when I’m with my friends, that’s my time with them and it’s not gonna come back. Thinking about it [stress] is not going to help you in any way.”

Some students also find peace with animal companions by their sides.

“If you have a cat, pet them,” Field said.“Lay down on the grass, meditate or for me, what’s really de-stressing for me is going home and taking a walk and cooking is a big one too. And medicinal marijuana of course.”

Taking care of your mental health is just as important as physical health. An important question to ask yourself is: Am I getting enough time to myself where I’m not just sleeping or eating but practicing self-care through movies, music or a favorite food?

Sometimes, going a little off your schedule and doing something different can do the trick. Chicorel finds his relaxation through television, but also by maintaining an organized schedule.

“I manage stress with TV, but that’s not always around,” Chicorel said. “So my main method is organization of my priorities. By keeping track of my tasks at hand, I minimize future stress to be had.”

Managing stress levels all starts with tackling issues that you know can potentially stress you out. Managing time to achieve deadlines, meal-prepping and utilizing agendas are all tasks that UC Davis students use on a daily basis, but it’s also increasingly important to take time to relax and be with the people (or pets) that you love.

 

Written by: Rabiya Oberoi — features@theaggie.org