Reduce stress by planning early and staying healthy

With finals time rapidly approaching students are going to be staying up later, pounding energy drinks to stay awake, and eating junk food because there is no time to cook. 

Don’t fall into this trap or you could cause yourself more stress than you can handle.

With the end of the semester rapidly approaching many Wichita State students are going to find their busy schedules becoming busier, causing themselves stress they should be avoiding. Fortunately, some simple steps exist to to cut bad habits and make things easier on yourself.

The most important idea to remember for keeping your stress level down is to plan ahead. Set aside time for self-care. Getting enough, good sleep, taking breaks at least every couple of hours, and eating healthy are three activities to consider. 

“A common mistake that students make is not having a stress management plan and anticipating stress and being intentional about their self care,” Jessica Provines, a staff psychologist in the WSU Counseling and Testing Center, said.

The center is available to all WSU students, faculty and staff for any mental health issues. Some of the most common problems students seek help for are relationship trouble, academic problems, depression, anxiety, and stress.

Provines said there is a mind/body connection that can cause stress during busy times in our lives that could be avoided.

“You want to take care of your body to give it what it needs,” Provines said. 

That means replacing high-caffeine energy drinks with water to keep yourself hydrated and substituting those greasy 3 a.m. fast food value meals with foods that are high in proteins and whole grains or snacking on fruits. 

Provines also recommends finding what stress release works best for you, such as exercising, doing yoga, or meditating. 

“It’s important to know how you relax and do what works best for you,” she said.

Some students may think drinking alcohol helps alleviate stress, but Provines warns to stay away from liquor in those moments. 

“It’s not uncommon for people to use negative coping when they are stressed,” Provines said. Drinking to excess and unhealthy drinking habits are unhealthy coping methods to avoid because it typically makes the problem worse.

It may sound like a daunting task that you don’t have time for but that might mean you aren’t utilizing your time efficiently. 

“It’s good to have a plan ahead of time so you can be proactive about it,” Provines said.

Psychology professor Louis Medvene recommends dropping things you don’t need in your schedule to free up more time for what is necessary. 

Develop a realistic assessment of everything that you need to do and how much time you need to do it. 

“Actively plan your schedule so that you don’t create a situation where you have to do more than you can handle,” Medvene said.

You also want to be sure to take frequent breaks from studying, and that means more than just getting out of your chair and walking around the house for a few minutes. 

“It’s good to relax with other people and spend time with friends,” Medvene said. 

That means next time your buddy asks you if you want to see a movie or the girls want to go shopping, you can say yes without feeling guilty that you’re not at home trying to remember the entire process of photosynthesis. Just don’t spend too much time away or you’ll end up having to find the time you lost again.

As the end of the school year nears these are tips to keep in mind while preparing to study for your exams or writing a twenty-five-page research paper. But if things ever do become too much to handle just remember people in the testing and counseling center are willing to help you get through it.