How was your week? Some of what I did this week included: VOTING, watching Lemonade with my friend May (we are changed forever), putting my legs up a wall, making a honey/yogurt/lemon/salt face mask, and rebounding like a queen. And I had a great conversation with the amazing girl behind As We Stumble Along!
I know that many of you are knee-deep in (or about to be) in final exams, final papers, and final projects. Whew, I know how stressful that is. During my final semester of undergrad, I would wake up in the mornings in panic-mode and had to call my Mom to help calm me down. And I would often hit the food hard (i.e. binge eating) just to deal with the stress. By the end of finals, I was relieved, but so exhausted, sick, and disoriented that it took me days to recover, enjoy post-finals life, and take action on other goals (i.e. rocking my summer internship, job hunting, etc.)
And for you post-college folks, I know that y’all experience times of extreme stress at work, in relationships, with your health/body, and trying to balance everything you have to do be an adult. I get it.
It’s easy to let your mental and physical health take a backseat to all of the work you have to do/worry about during stressful times. But I want to give you lots of easy things you can do to support your body and mind while you do all of your work… so that you can be as productive as possible and have the energy to have fun in your life and focus on other goals you want to accomplish.
Here are 10 easy ways to take care of your mind and body during finals/times of extreme stress:
1. Fall asleep to a meditation/hypnosis recording. This is an easy way to relax your brain while you sleep, even if you’re just getting a few hours of sleep per night. Put in your earbuds and just let the words and sounds of these recordings work on you.
2. Eat full meals. Most of us don’t eat enough food, even if we’re not trying to manipulate our body. Our culture just doesn’t support taking time for meals. But when you eat full meals, your anxiety level goes down and your body can work hard for you. You’ll have more energy to do work and feel calm while doing it. So for every meal, try to get in 4-5 foods per meal (ex. breakfast: scrambled egg with cheese, toast, yogurt, fruit–that’s five foods).
3. Do face masks. I could evangelize about these. Face masks (homemade orstore-bought) keep your skin happy and calm while you do other things, like study, do laundry, send emails, or just chill out. P.S. doing them with friends and taking pics is very fun. These are some of my fave homemade masks.
4. Use the Pomodoro technique when doing work. This is a productivity method that involves setting a timer for 25 mins to do work, taking a 5 min break, then doing work for another 25 mins, followed by another 5-min break, and doing this four times total. This WORKS. I’ve been using it all week and have really stayed on task. There are a ton of free online Pomodoro timers out there. I’ve been using this one.
5. Rebound/dance and jump around. Rebounding refers to jumping on a mini trampoline (pic above). It’s a form of exercise that gets the lymphatic system moving. The lymphatic system carries nutrients to the cells while carrying away waste. If you don’t move the body, the lymph nodes get stuck and tension and waste just sit in your body. So if you have one, take a short study/work break and jump on a mini trampoline while listening to music. Or have a quick dance party that involves a bit of jumping. This movement will refresh your body, rid it of waste, and make you feel more creative.
6. Take a walk with a friend. In grad school, one of my friends and I would work separately at our desks for a period of time, then take a walk outside. Then we’d go back to work for a while, and take another walk together. This was so nice because it motivated us to be hyper-focused on our work, then lighten things up by laughing and being outside, which refreshed us when we got back to our desks. Try this with one of your friends!
7. Drink lots of water. Our bodies pee out cortisol, the stress hormone. We need cortisol to be alert and do things, but when we have an excess of cortisol, our anxiety level really goes up. So when we drink water, we release stress from our bodies and calm down. I carried a Klean Kanteen with me all through college. I also drink a glass of water when I wake up in the morning, as our cortisol level is high in the mornings.
8. Use a mantra. Y’all know how much I love mantras. Here’s the one I used ALL THE TIME in college: Everything always gets done. It always brought me comfort.
9. Put your legs against the wall. This is a fun and gentle stretch for the hamstrings. Lie on your back with your butt touching a wall. Extend your legs vertically and prop them against the wall. Lie there and just chill out for 3-4 mins. Pic above.
10. Hide in the bathroom and meditate. I did this all the time in grad school. Before going into class or when I felt overwhelmed, I would go into a bathroom stall, sit on the toilet (or just stand), close my eyes and breath deeply for 2-4 mins. This helped me get space from my whirring thoughts so I could think clearly. It made me feel calm, strong, and protected. Definitely do this between classes, before taking an exam, before going into a meeting, etc.
Whew, there you go! These tips will keep you calm and healthy so that you can do your best work possible and have energy to enjoy your life AND keep accomplishing goals that are important to you.