By Diana Bedair, January 31 2020—
I know what you’re thinking – another “New Year, New Me” feature, but don’t worry, this isn’t your typical New Year’s piece. As students, we face increasing levels of stress, whether that’s balancing our school work, part-time jobs, extra-curriculars, spending time with friends and family, hitting the gym, oh and let’s not forget the eight hours of sleep we’re “supposed” to receive. This list is not exhaustive of course, with each of us having our personal day-to-day challenges and struggles. As a stressed-out student, if you’re anything like me, then you’re probably wondering — is there a way to alleviate the pressure? Well, I’m here to tell you there is! As students, we want easy-to-maintain habits that are highly effective and only better us in the best way possible. Since we’re still in the New Year’s phase, I felt there was no better time than to share with you some habits that I’ve adopted to help me when I sense my stress levels rising. I hope you find at least one of them beneficial in 2020! I truly empathize with many university students as we have a lot on our plates and need to adopt healthy habits to cope, which is why these tips are especially important.
Self reflection and journaling:
Trust me when I say that we as students don’t do this enough. The psychological benefits of self-reflection and introspection are plenty, and it only takes a few minutes. Try it now, as you’re reading this. The act of writing gives you a means to acknowledge your inner thoughts and consciousness, and ultimately heightens your awareness. The first question you want to ask yourself is, “What is currently going well for me?” I find that focusing on the positives in my life truly helps me maintain a forward-looking mindset. I encourage you to get in the habit of always keeping these at the forefront of your mind, as it begins to form the basis of your thinking in the future.
Second, write down three things that you are grateful for each day. I have recently adopted this habit, and have found it truly reframes my mindset. Having to reflect on my day and choose even the smallest of things to be grateful for has allowed me to gain perspective. I notice that we spend much of our day focusing on what we have yet to accomplish with our endless to-do lists that we don’t pause for a second and celebrate our small wins. Third, write down one thing you are trying to improve or a goal you wish to achieve. Stick to one or two goals, as having too many can overwhelm you and discourage you from accomplishing any of them. Write down the exact measurable steps you will take to achieve your goal and follow up with this daily. Self-reflection and journaling not only helps with overcoming your day-to-day stressors, but can improve your well-being and mental health in the long run.
Self care and time for leisure activities:
Yes, you’ve heard this concept before, but it holds a lot of truth. As students we become so caught up in our fast-paced daily lives and focus on our deliverables and responsibilities 24-7 that we forget that becoming exhausted and drained only decreases our productivity and overall well-being. This is why it is important to dedicate a small portion of your day to engage in a leisure activity that can recharge your personal battery and energize yourself going forward. My friend, for example, shared with me that knitting is an activity that calms her down when she is feeling anxious or when she has a lot occupying her mind. Find what works for you.
My last token to you that I want to share is this application I recently downloaded that I have found very beneficial. It’s called “Motivation – Daily Quotes.” Not sponsored, I promise! This free application sends you daily reminders, and gives you that extra push to get through whatever it is. There’s one I received today that I’d like to share — “Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.”
I hope these are useful habits you can adopt that will alleviate some of your stress this semester and that you carry them with you beyond university. Hopefully, implementing them in your daily life will yield positive outcomes. Don’t underestimate the power of small habits, because it is these that can and will lead to a significant reduction in the stress you’re feeling! And remember, consistency is key. I’d like to leave you with a quote I felt was worth sharing — “It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.” And remember to take it easy in the coming weeks, because just as we are encouraged to ensure our physical health is intact, we mustn’t neglect our mental health.
This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet’s editorial board.