Healthy ways to unwind when you’re feeling stressed

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With your postgraduate courses in full swing and assessments and big projects pouring in, it can be hard to manage your stress. But you don’t have to let stress get the best of you or your academic performance.

Try these unique, quick, and simple strategies to fight stress in a healthy way and reinvigorate your study sessions.

 

Embrace your stress

Though it sounds counterintuitive, one of the best ways to alleviate stress is to embrace it, says psychologist Kelly McGonigal. If you can reframe your stress as a challenge to overcome rather than looking at it as an unsolvable problem, you’ll find it easier to manage.

Ask yourself about the meaning of your stress and what you can learn from it. For example, if you discover that you have anxiety because you want to do well but fear failure, could you try embracing your great desire to achieve as a positive motivator? By being optimistic, you can use stress as a way to learn and grow.

 

Connect with green spaces

Research about the link between plants and wellbeing showed that people with plants in their offices reduced their stress levels and negative feelings by 30 to 60%. Even one plant made a difference.

Since exercise is a natural stress-reducer, going for a morning jog in the park can do double-duty. Just a ten-minute walk in a green space has been shown to reduce blood pressure and stress hormone levels. If you can’t get outside, invest in plants for your home or put your desk near a window that looks out on trees.

 

Eat stress-reducing foods

While it may be tempting to soothe your anxieties by eating a tub of ice cream, a better plan is to keep your blood sugar balanced by eating healthy snacks. When our brains don’t have proper nourishment, our stress hormones rise.

Bananas are high in potassium, which regulates blood pressure and protects our bodies from the negative health effects of stress like heart attacks. Avocados, cashews, berries, and chocolate are also good choices according to health experts.

For an even greater calming effect, eat your snack mindfully. Pay attention to its taste, texture, and scent as you eat. By stepping outside of yourself and putting yourself in the moment, you’ll feel more relaxed and clear-headed.

 

Melt stress with music and videos

Listening to music has long been proven to help with relaxation. In one study, Malaysian researchers found that subjects who listened to music that played at 60 beats per minute felt increased physical relaxation and reduced feelings of stress. This is common in slow classical music.

While staring at a computer screen for hours has been shown to increase stress, certain media can help you feel better if you engage in small doses. Whether you watch a funny viral video online (yes, this includes cute cat videos), or share a laugh with your friends, laughter increases endorphins, or feel-good chemicals in your brain, which reduce stress. When you laugh with others, you get even more benefits because socialising also reduces stress.

 

Organise your study area

If the clutter in your study area has piled up during your first unit, it could be adding to your stress. Neuroscience researchers determined that clutter reduces our ability to focus and process information, which makes us frustrated and agitated. You’ll reduce your stress levels and make it easier to study by organising your study space and your home.