April is a scary month for college students. Remember when the semester started and you looked at the syllabus, saw things due in April and thought, "I have so much time to do this!" Well, if you have not done those things, I am sorry to say your time is almost up. April crept up on me in the worst way. The last week of March, I had a paper due for one class, and a major exam for another class. I was also recovering from being sick and was not feeling up for the intense study sessions I ultimately had to partake in. I spent the entire week stressing out more than I should have.
I don't think people realize the physiological and psychological effects intense amounts of stress can have on a person. When someone is stressed, their cortisol levels rise and they can experience many symptoms that can affect their ability to complete the things they are stressed about. Heart rate can become elevated as a result of stress, which is something that easily happens to me. I become anxious about my workload and put intense pressure on myself to get everything done, which raises my heart rate. The heart is a muscle, and it should not be pumping more than it needs to, which is why this symptom is one of the worst symptoms stress can cause.
Sleep is super important when you have a packed day every day of the week, however, sometimes stress does not even allow you to rest your eyes when you have the chance and causes you to stay up worrying about getting everything done in time. This is also something that happened to me at the start of last week. I could not sleep no matter how hard I tried to. This was something that has never happened to me before and it scared me. I was frustrated because I knew that if I did not get enough sleep, that I would be exhausted the next day, which would ultimately cause me to lessen my level of productivity.
Once I realized that I was hurting myself by stressing out so much, I changed up everything I was doing, and I am so glad I did.
I started meditating whenever I had the chance. On Wednesday, my busiest day of the week, I felt absolutely awful. Every part of my body ached. I was dealing with the symptoms of being sick previously, but I was also dealing with my stress. I had a lot of work due, but instead of doing it, I laid in bed, played a guided meditation video on Youtube, and took a nap for an hour after relaxing my muscles.
I woke up feeling so much better. I also finished all my work in due time.
The next day, I woke up and worked out for an hour. I typically would avoid working out when I had a busy day because I felt like I should be working on my school work all day. I realized that I needed time for myself and that working out was not a waste of time. It was helping me set up the rest of my day. I feel energized all day after my workout.
After this, I made myself breakfast. I made a fruit smoothie, eggs, and had some almonds on the side. My healthy breakfast helped keep my energy up throughout the day. I studied all day for my exam and the next day, after following the same routine, I did very well on my exam.
I was still a bit stressed, but I was stressed a normal amount. I was stressed to the point where I was motivated to work and study, but where I was not feeling overwhelmed.
The week went by and I accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish while also taking care of myself. I think it is important to remember that self-care is the key to a good productive life. If you don't take care of yourself first, you will not be able to succeed, because your body does everything you want to do!
This finals season, take a deep breath, dry some deep muscle relaxation, take the time to workout, drink water, eat healthy foods, and relax before bed so you can get a good night's sleep! Seek out things that make you happy and can calm you down when you are dealing with stress, and you'll be unstoppable.