Finals week brings plenty of stress. Of course, grades are enough to worry about. However, on top of test preparation, you’re likely shopping for holiday gifts and getting ready to leave campus for winter break, among other things. Changing your routine to accommodate intensive study sessions adds another layer of anxiety.
It’s important to remember that it’s normal to feel stressed under such conditions. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t! Luckily, you can follow these six stress-relieving exercises to keep your discomfort to a minimum.
First, if you’re tempted to take a break from exercising right before finals, please don’t. Sitting for hours on end isn’t good for anybody. Exercise is essential for health and stress relief. Any type of movement is helpful, but you can tailor your routine to suit your mood.
Apart from your workout sessions, you can exercise while you’re sitting. Every once in a while, stop what you’re doing and take some time to release muscle tension.
It might seem inconsequential, but slowing down your respiration rate can really improve your stress levels. When you’re concentrating or overwhelmed, you might hold your breath or breathe rapidly without realizing it. Your brain won’t get as much oxygen, and your blood pressure could rise.
Set an alert on your phone or computer that reminds you to pause and become aware of your breathing. The normal respiration rate for an adult is 12 to 16 breaths per minute. With practice, you can slow that rate down significantly for just a minute or two. Simply count to four while you inhale and exhale. Once you resume your normal breathing pattern, you should feel calmer and more focused.
Another trick for beating stress is to squeeze and release different parts of your body. You can do this while sitting or lying down. First, clench the muscles in your feet, and hold for up to 10 seconds. Relax. Work your way up to your head by focusing on each of these parts sequentially:
Stimulate blood circulation and further help your muscles relax with a mini-massage. This is especially great to do after the progressive relaxation exercise.
You’ve read it before here and elsewhere, but aside from deep breathing, meditation is one of the most effective stress-busters. If you think emptying your mind is too difficult, remember: That’s why it’s called a “meditation practice.”
Nobody can block all thoughts for hours or even part of an hour right off the bat. Taking just a few minutes to clear your head by focusing on a peaceful video and/or listening to soothing music is well worth it. Over time, you’ll be able to sit for longer periods.
These simple stress-relief exercises will help you power through extreme study sessions without compromising your health or sanity. Following the principles of yin and yang, remember that you must balance work with breaks for best results. Work efficiently now so you can enjoy your holiday season!