Keep Your Cool Now That the Kids are Back in School

It’s time to say goodbye to sand, beach and weekend barbecues. Back to carpooling, soccer practice, study schedules… ahh! This exciting yet hectic time of year can push stress levels to warp speed. But as always, we’ve got you covered with tips to help keep the back-to-school stress to a minimum.

Stress less

Create a direction for your day
Create meaningful goals to guide your days that contribute to your bigger picture. Since we know we may not get to accomplish everything that we want to, prioritize your goals to ensure you complete everything that absolutely needs to be done for the day.

Let go
If we could steer the course of our days there would be no such thing as traffic and lines at Starbucks would be nonexistent. But the reality is that most aspects of life are simply out of our control. Learn to accept what we can’t control, and let your worries over those things go. Instead, focus your energy on the things that you do have control over.

Realize that you can’t do it all
Do you begin the day with an enormous task list and find yourself only halfway through it by the day’s end? That’s perfectly okay. There will always be one more spot that needs to be cleaned, one more email that needs to be written before going to bed. At the end of the day sometimes we need to tell ourselves, “You have done enough today.”

Learn to say “no”
Your time is a precious commodity and it must be protected. There’s just no way that you can accomplish your own goals if you are constantly completing tasks for others. Before you commit to doing something, ask yourself if it’s realistic to add to your work load. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty for what you just don’t have the time to do.

Shut it down
Set a cut-off time each day for working and using technology. Shut down your laptop and TV and give your mind and body the time needed to unwind before falling asleep. If you like to go to sleep by 11 pm, set a 10 pm cut-off time. You may find that you sleep a bit more restfully and become more motivated to complete your day’s work in the hours before your cut-off time.

 

Take time for yourself every day

It isn’t hard to forget about your own needs in between making sure the kids have eaten and that your deadlines at work have been met. But it’s crucial to make sure that you’re taking time for yourself.

 

Click through below for a few ideas for mental health moments throughout the day:

Kids’ Mental Health Matters

During back to school time, parents make sure to get all of the necessary immunizations and physical health check-ups kids need, but ensuring that your child is mentally healthy is just as important.

If you notice any changes in your child’s behavior, it could be an indication of a mental health issue. Warning signs to keep an eye out for that interfere with his or her daily activities include:

  • Withdrawal from friends and family members
  • Avoidance or disinterest in activities
  • Avoidance of eating, or weight loss
  • Low self-esteem
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Drastic personality changes

Keep an open line of communication with your child. Don’t be afraid to ask children how they feel with direct questions like, “Are you sad?,” or open-ended questions like “What was the best part of your day?” Make sure you REALLY listen. Read more about what to do if you think your child is struggling with a mental health issue here.

 

Guest Blogger:

Jasmine Berry

Communication, Education & Advocacy Coordinator

Mental Health Association of Montgomery County

Taking Time for Yourself During the Summer

Summer is warm and exciting, with plenty of fun activities to participate in. But summer activities and jobs can get overwhelming. Year-round jobs during the summer (while everyone else is sunbathing) can get pretty overwhelming and depressing, too.
Therefore, it’s just as important as ever to take your occasional mental health days, or to set aside some time for you to relax by yourself, or with others.
 
Here are some of the ways I like to spend my own mental health days:
 
1.) Coffee and a good book. 
 
 
Don’t underestimate the power of an extra cup of iced coffee or tea to accompany that new young-adult, romance or science-fiction novel, while sitting near a window, or outside if possible. I recently read We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, one of my favorite childhood authors, and it helped distract me from everything that usually stresses me out during the work week.
 
2.) A date with your laptop or TV.
 
Let your mind relax while you watch a movie in bed, or binge-watch a couple of the new “Orange is the New Black” episodes.
 
3.) Explore your town or city.
 
As someone who has been living in Washington, D.C. for the past year, I can honestly tell you that I have barely explored any of it. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that many of us live places where there are areas we have yet to venture out to. Take a break and explore your surroundings. Take it all in and let your mind wander. 
 
4.) Petsmart trip.
 
 
 
If you don’t have a pet of your own, consider relaxing by going to Petsmart. Look at all of the cute little kittens or the weird looking birds and guinea pigs. Also, studies show that watching fish swim in fish tanks can help relieve stress and anxiety. 
 
5.) Youtube pet videos.
 
If you can’t go to Petsmart, take a look at some of these online cat and dog videos that are sure to make you smile.
 
6.) Take a break from social media.
 
Uninstall Facebook and Twitter (if you can) from your phone for a day. Sometimes social media stresses us out more than we can tell. Social media is great, but it’s important to maintain your mental health while using social media 
 
7.) Listen to instrumental music.
 

 
I love listening to rock, country and pop music. However, I have come to realize that sometimes lyrics can stress me out. When I really need to calm down and relax I turn to my favorite pianist, Yiruma. I also enjoy listening to the Scottish instrumental band Mogwai
 
8.) Go for a swim.
 
 
 
 If you live in an apartment complex with a pool, or if you live near a pool, take a swim every now and then. Swimming can help clear your mind.
 
9.) Redecorate.  
 
Sometimes, all you really need is a change of scenery. Move around some furniture in your home or hang up a few new pictures and interior decorations here and there. Need help? Check out Apartmenttherapy.com, which is one of my favorite redecorating blogsCurrently, this article about temporary and removable adhesives is my favorite.
 
10.)  Try a cold shower or a warm bubble bath. 
 
We often get caught up in the hustle and bustle of rushing to get ready for work on time and rarely ever take that time to relax. If you get a moment later in the day, try a cold shower (you know—for when it’s INSANELY hot outside and your commute home involved walking) or a warm bubble bath (because when was the last time you actually took a bath? What about one with bubbles?) with a book to read or music to listen to. 
 
11.)  Window shop! 
 

 
Whether it’s the book store down the block, or the consignment shop two streets over (or maybe you have returned to take another look at the fish in Petsmart), window shopping is a nice (and free) way to get your mind off of daily stressors.
 
12.) Creative expression.
 
Have a few hours to relax in between jobs or obligations? Try a quick and easy outlet like creative writing, sketching, journaling, painting or singing. Personally, I tend to prefer writing or painting to help express myself. This article is one of my favorite guides to painting for stress relief. 
 
13.) Go on a road trip. 
 
If you have a car and gas money to spare, road trips can be really fun and are great for taking your mind off of work. It doesn’t have to be long, either. Maybe you live two hours away from the beach, or three hours from the mountains. Pick a friend or family member, your favorite CD and hit the road! Driving down country roads with the windows down, while listening to “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas never fails to make me happy. 
 
14.) Go kayaking or canoeing.
 
If you don’t have a canoe or kayak (I don’t have either), you can still take part in this activity. There are many businesses along rivers in cities and towns that let you rent a canoe or kayak for an hour. I like to kayak on the Potomac on Saturday mornings when I’ve had a really bad week. The wind and the smell of the fresh, river water helps me relax. Plus, it’s a great work out. It can be a little expensive ranging from $15-$20 an hour, so I only do it occasionally.
 
15.)  Rant. 
 
Find someone willing to listen to what you have going on in your life—your best friend, your mother, your significant other, your dog, the Internet…and just rant. The rant could be about annoying coworkers or your detail-oriented boss, but they don’t have to be. Rant about the weather. Rant about climate change and social justice issues. Rant about how silly you think it is that a museum in Kentucky decided to keep a sinkhole as a tourist attraction. Just rant For me, I am constantly ranting to myself about these subjects in my head, but since I’m not letting any of that anger out verbally, it just bottles up. After getting all of those rambling, raging thoughts out of your head, the weight on your shoulders starts to feel a little lighter, and it really does help. 

Guest Blogger:

Rain Freeman, Summer Communications Intern

@_RainFreeman

Mental Health Association of Montgomery County

Maintain Your Mental Health As A Social Media User

Do this. Open your search engine. Start typing in “social media makes me.”  What are the top search results that you see?

Here’s what I saw:

social media makes me lonely

How many happy days have been destroyed by Facebook posts about your ex and the new girl/guy? How many relaxing nights alone at home have been ruined by Instagram pics of friends out on the town, having a great time while you’re downing pints of Ben and Jerry’s in your zebra onesie?

Social media is an incredible tool. It has the power to reconnect us with friends we haven’t seen since we were kids, to share good news with millions of people worldwide in seconds, to even make dreams come true. But it also has the power to control our lives and our moods – if we let it. Like any powerful tool, use it wisely we must.

 

use it wisely

 

I’ll share a few tips on maintaining positive mental health as a social media user found around the web, as well as a few tips I’ve picked up from friends’ experiences and from some of my own.

 

Is your social media use cutting into the real-life things that make you happy?

  • Talk to your friends – Make sure you’re connecting with your friends in person, or at least via phone or video chat. Constant liking, sharing and commenting can make it seem like we’re always connected to friends. Social networks are no substitute for having actual, meaningful conversations.  Meet up for a cup of coffee or give a friend a call who you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  • Set Time Limits – Set boundaries for yourself so you don’t end up checking your accounts continuously throughout the day.
  • Be in the present – Scrolling through your feeds all day means that you miss out on the greatness happening right in front of you.
  • Remember that Facebook friends DO NOT equal real friends – Your roommate has more than 1,000 friends on Facebook. You have 250. That means she’s more loved than you, right? It’s easy to get sucked into this way of thinking, but there’s no way she can call on those 1,000 people to vent at the end of a long day. Think about the real people that you can depend on in your life. Those are the friends who count.

Are you trying to keep up with the Joneses?

  • Keep in mind that people share selectively – When checking your social media updates, it seems like everyone’s getting engaged, everyone’s getting promotions, everyone’s doing something exciting. Remember – people only choose to share those spectacular moments in life. No one shares about being short on rent or getting into a fight with their spouse.
  • Don’t use social media to seek validationIt feels good when people like your posts and pictures. It’s tempting, but don’t utilize your social media accounts to seek validation. When you share a picture of yourself that you think is cute or a post you think is hilarious, your lack of likes can be a blow to your self-confidence and a serious downer. Don’t give your networks that power over you. Self-confidence and true happiness comes from within, not from some acquaintance of yours giving their stamp of approval on your outfit.

Do you need a social media vacation?

  • Delete social media apps from your phone – Has that 4 inch screen growing out of the palm of your hand taken over your life? (Side note – that much hunching over your phone cannot be good for your neck or posture.) Consider removing social media apps from your cell phone to limit your access to your accounts and cut down on the time you spend posting and perusing feeds.
  • Remind yourself why you’re using each social media platform. There are a million social media applications available. Do you really need to be on all of them!?

 

We love social media – it’s what allows us to connect with you! Just make sure your mental health isn’t being negatively affected while using it.  

 

And follow us, we promote positivity, won’t spam your feeds and share really great articles on mental health and wellness.

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Guest Blogger:

Jasmine Berry, Communication, Education & Advocacy Coordinator

Mental Health Association of Montgomery County

Independence from Pet Stress

July

The Fourth of July can be one of the worst days for animal stress. The evening is full of loud noises that can easily scare animals. This, along with crowds, family parties, and daytime party-prepping may make you and your pet feel a little overwhelmed. In fact, because of runaways and neglected pets on this busy holiday, the rate of lost pets in shelters increases 30% every July 4th. So to make sure your family– including your pet–has a wonderful time this Independence Day, here are a few helpful pointers.

Fireworks and Noise

Parades, poppers, fireworks, music, parties—all can lead to unusual and unexpected noise for your pet. Although you won’t be able to get away from the noise completely (nor do you want to miss out on all the fun), there are a few ways to keep your pet’s stress level at bay. Prepare a place for your pet in a secure and isolated place in your house (an inner closet or bathroom perhaps).  Check on them frequently and give them some extra attention. If your pets are overly anxious, you may also try talking to your vet about medication to help relax them.

Parties

Whether you have invited a lot of people over for a neighborhood party or you plan on taking the family to a local park, there is sure to be a lot of people and a lot of activity. A gate left open or an unleashed animal can easily lead to a lost pet, so make sure you take necessary precautions. If you are hosting a party, make sure your guests are aware of where you are holding the pet so they do not accidently leave a door open or designate someone to be the primary dog-watcher for the evening. If you are leaving the house, make sure you have the necessary ties, leashes and collars to ensure that your pet will not be lost in the crowds if you turn away for a second.

Last but not definitely not least, ensure your families safety as well. With everyone safe and stress free, you can have an amazing Independence Day celebration!

 

Cicadas Are Causing Quite the Buzz: Tips to Reduce Your Stress During the Insect Invasion

Picture1For 17 years, cicadas have been nesting underground waiting for the perfect conditions to make their appearance. And ta-dah, that time has arrived. Over the next four to six weeks, those living on the east coast from Georgia to Connecticut will need to find a way to cohabitate with the insects. Cicadas, although great for the local ecosystem (see below), can cause some annoyances in our daily lives including the drum-like “love song” that male cicadas make to attract a female partner. So here are a few tips to help you handle our little uninvited guests:

 

  • Protect trees and gardens: Homeowners who are concerned about their young hardwood or fruit trees (less than 5 feet tall) can protect them by wrapping branches with pond netting or spun polyolefin. Since Cicadas only consume liquid from trees, home flower and fruit gardens are not at any risk.
  • Keep animals safe: We can protect our animal companions from eating cicadas by keeping cats indoors and taking dogs for leashed walks. Although cicadas will not bite animals (nor humans) and cooking-up live cicadas may be a delicacy for some, eating a dead cicada can be potentially harmful to your pet.
  • Dress appropriately: This year, we will see more cicadas than usual. Depending on the area you live in, cicadas are predicted to outnumber people 600 to 1. Because cicadas will harbor in trees and will be emerging from the ground, you may want to consider wearing closed-toe shoes and carrying an umbrella.
  • Children: Cicadas, though somewhat unattractive, are not harmful to children. Let your kids know that the insects will not sting or bite. Actually, the six week period of infestation can actually be a unique learning experience. Children may like to collect Cicada shells after they shed and the rare occurrence may also provide an opportunity to teach kids about unusual species.

Just remember that Cicadas are a benefit to our environment. The Chimney-like tunnels they dig to emerge naturally arrogate the soil allowing more water to reach the trees’ roots. Also, female cicadas dig tiny trenches in young tree  branches to lay their eggs inside. This natural pruning helps strengthen trees so they produce more fruit and blossoms. And when cicadas die, their bodies become a nitrogen rich fertilizer. Remember: cicadas are our friends.

11 Ways to Reduce Stress in Your Daily Life

stressEveryday can be My Mental Health Day. Of course we have responsibilities, work, and other chores to take care of but it’s important to take time for ourselves each day, even if it is only a moment or two. Why? Because our ability to reduce stress, prevent anxiety, and live life in a way that makes us happy depends on supporting our mental health. And, the best way to do that is to take time for ourselves doing the things we love. Our days are so jammed-pack with everything we NEED to do that taking a break for a mere five minutes can seem easier said than done.

So start with the little things: drink a cup of your favorite tea while you are typing away on the computer or sing along to your favorite song while driving home from work. Even though you are accomplishing what you NEED to do, you are still giving yourself a little mental health moment by doing something for you at the same time.

There are several proven ways to support your mental health. Make taking care of yourself a habit by participating in one of the following each day.

  • Connect with others: Call an old friend or go on a date with your significant other.
  • Create joy and satisfaction: Tell a silly joke or take your kids for ice cream cones.
  • Manage hard times: Read a magazine, listen to music, reach out to family for comfort—whatever it may be that helps you through the rough parts of your day.
  • Help Others: Help a friend move across town or volunteer at your local animal shelter.
  • Do a hobby or relax: Paint a picture, play baseball, knit, or take music lessons.
  • Eat well: Junk food can cause stress and sleepiness. Remember to eat your fruits and vegetables.
  • Stay positive: Although times may be hard, focus on what you have rather than what went wrong. Try keeping a gratitude log and remember to tell people how much they mean to you.
  • Get physically active: Take care of your physical wellness by exercising (yoga, biking, running).
  • Take care of your spirit: Meditate or pray, whatever makes you feel more at peace.
  • Get enough sleep: You’re a lot more relaxed and even productive when you don’t skip out on the sleep your mind and body require.
  • Get professional help when needed: Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings or needs. Reach out for help. No one can do everything by themselves.

How do you support your mental health? Share your ideas with us on Facebook and help others find something that may work for them. Go, play, and enjoy the day because today is your “My Mental Health Day!”

Do You Wear Pajamas to Work?

Aly WEAR

Aly Jacobs at MIX 107.3 Morning Show
With My Mental Health Day WEAR Bracelet

The first question I always get regarding my morning show job is, “how on earth do you wake up at 3:30 in the morning?!” That question is always followed by “when do you have to be at work? When does the show end? Do you wear pajamas to work? It must get easier, right?” To put it lightly and g-rated, no it does not get easier…and no I do not wear pajamas to work…anymore. Over the eight years of my career as an on-air morning show personality, there are ways that I have learned how to deal with the stress of the monster that is my 3:30am alarm.

I remember the first time my alarm clock went off at 3:30 in the morning. I was a junior in college.  I looked at the obnoxiously beeping clock like it had 3 heads…like it was speaking a foreign language (other than Spanish)…like it was trying to explain to me the Sequester (yeah I still don’t get it). Eight years later and my alarm is still working- louder than ever.  I used to just come home and sleep the day away after work and in between my classes. That was leaving me groggy, angry, and I was beginning to “sleep eat.” For those who have never woken up from sleep elbows deep in a bag of chips–you’re lucky. It was not a pretty sight. That is when I realized that I needed to channel my “job hour” stress elsewhere. I am head over heels for radio and what I get to do for a living, so I just needed to figure out a way to stay healthy- mentally and physically.

Six years ago I discovered running, and my life has never been the same since. Every day I head to the gym either right after work to sweat out the stress from the day…or, I will take a quick nap and rather than eat or drink my way through the day, I will meet friends at the gym and make it my social activity for the night! From Bosu Bootcamp to Bikram Yoga, Zumba class, or a long run around the Nation’s Capital, working out not only keeps me in shape, but it gives me the mental clarity that I need to stay balanced with my unusual work schedule.

Incorporating exercise into my daily routine has also changed my eating habits. I now love to cook and experiment with different recipes (see below for one of my favorites)! From Cauliflower Crusted Pizza to Kale Chips- cooking is therapeutic and fun…especially after you sweated out the stress earlier! Sure waking up at 3:30 isn’t ideal- but when you find ways to channel the negative into something positive, well then life is pretty great!

Click Photo to Enhance Aly’s Favorite Recipe

recipe--Aly Jacobs

 

Follow my sometimes “stress-free” life at https://alyjacobs.tumblr.com

To buy a MY MENTAL HEALTH DAY W.E.A.R. Bracelet:  www.wearproject.com/    WEARing mine reminds me to take a deep breath and sweat it out!

 

My Mental Health Day Thanks:
Alyson Jacobs, On-Air Personality/Producer WRQX-Mix 107.3
https://alyjacobs.tumblr.com

 

Stop Running the Bases and Take a Time Out

Reality (Or some version of it): Wake up. Get stuck in traffic. Work 10 hours.Get stuck in traffic again. Take kids to practice. Mow the lawn. Make dinner. Do laundry. Go to Bed. Wake Up. Repeat.

8418562740_1b3a13e0b0_zIn our always-be-productive, never-relax world, it is increasingly difficult to step away from reality and force ourselves to take a break.  However, today’s stressful lifestyle is exactly why we SHOULD do something to take time for ourselves. A hobby gives us a break from reality, a sense of accomplishment, new skills, expanded horizons, fun friendships, and reduced stress.

Hobbies have no deadlines, no rules, and no pressure to be successful. They are simply yours and yours alone. There is no boss to tell you how to do something “right.” And you only need to do your best and enjoy it—a stark contrast from everyday life. Remember the hobby that you love and use it as an excuse to take a break from reality:

  • Sports: Team events and sporting engagements are an excellent means of making new friends and reducing stress whether you are watching a game or playing it. Cheering for your home team allows you to engage with others that appreciate sportsmanship and have an affinity for your team, while playing the game helps develop new skills and promotes physical fitness.
  • Crafts: Painting, sculpting, writing, photography—all provide a sense of personal achievement. Art allows you to express your emotions while providing an outlet. In addition, the completed product gives you something special to enjoy and share with others.
  • Music: While listening to music can be relaxing and calm anxiety,   creating
  • A break from everyday realities can lead to endless possibilities—horseback riding, doing puzzles, gardening, traveling, or even hitting the next big home run. Each hobby has its own benefit and it is up to each of us to find the activity that fits best. Everyone’s likes, needs, and schedules are different but no matter what your preference and time constraints, there is bound to be a hobby that is perfect for you.music can also be a powerful stress reducer. Playing an instrument can absorb your full attention, taking  your mind off of daily inconveniences and serving as a vehicle  of expression.

 

Stress in the Land of Mommy (or Daddy)? …Follow the Mellow Tips Road

yello brickChildren bring countless blessings into our lives: joy, love, pride, and the many other gifts derived from the bond between parent and child. However, the commitment and responsibility of nurturing and raising another human being from infancy to adulthood can also cause an enormous amount of stress and anxiety. Though each mother may experience a range of unique stressors, many demands of motherhood are nearly universal. Here are a few practical steps to keep unwarranted stress away:

1. Take Time For Yourself

First and foremost, remember to take care of yourself. Flight attendants ask you to secure your own facemask before helping others because you need to be healthy and able to care for your loved ones. Plan a girls night; take a bubble bath; go for a spa day; meet friends for lunch; take an after dinner walk—whether you take a whole day or just a few minutes, you need and deserve a little time to yourself.

2. Keep Lists and Get Organized

With soccer practice, grocery shopping, ballet recital, and a visit to Grandma’s house all on the agenda, it is easy to forget the little tasks that may slip through the cracks. Lists can be helpful when planning weekly meals and tracking all the errands that need to be made. These lists can eliminate multiple trips to the store and help you keep running around to a minimum. Lists help you stay on task and avoid forgetting important responsibilities. Plus, it always feels good to cross something off your list after completing it. (Save room in your purse and eliminate the paper—there are great Apps for making lists.)

3. Don’t Forget Romance

The relationship between you and your children is one of the most important and greatest bonds. You also have friends to stay in touch with, employers/employees to keep happy, and parents to care for. With all the relationship upkeep, it is easy to forget your significant other. Remember that romance is an incredible stress reducer and your partner can be an excellent source of comfort and support during overwhelming moments.

4. Know When to Say No

You are a super mom! But it’s ok to admit that you do not have super powers. It is impossible to be two places at once or accomplish more than one person could ever do. Consider declining favors asked of you, reschedule events, or delegate tasks. Having trouble saying “no,” instead try saying “I’m sorry, that just doesn’t work for me.”

5. Seek Support

There is no need to do it all by yourself. Your partner, family, friends, neighbors, and even your older kids can be great resources in times of need. There are also cheap and handy services that can assist in daily chores—use a grocery delivery service, shop online, or every so often call a professional cleaning service. Remind yourself that you can seek support and shouldn’t have to do it all by yourself. Mothers everywhere sympathize with your hefty responsibilities—reach out and ask for help.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all those wonderful, hard working moms and caretakers out there. None of us would be here without you!

 

The Three S’s of Reducing Stress Before Finals

Student_stressFinals are coming! I have so much to do in the next two weeks. A 12 page paper on Shakespeare’s leading ladies. A physics project report. A microbiology exam. Computer text coding exercises. And I’m supposed to compose poetry on top of it all?! Wide-eyed from too much caffeine, I gaze at the text that swims before my eyes, re-reading the same line for the fourth time –it’s 4:23 am. Books are stacked open-face three high on a desk. My bed has been buried in miscellaneous notebooks, a calculator, writing utensils, and graphs for a number of days. Lately, I’ve been sleeping curled up on the floor or passed out on my desk with a book page adhered to my cheek. Notes have been stuck haphazardly to various surfaces. The trash basket is beginning to overflow.

 

Sound Familiar? Chances are that if you are a student, you’ve compiled a list of scholarly tasks that grows larger as the school year draws to a close. It’s easy to be overwhelmed. Some people deal with the stress by closing themselves in their room, forgetting to shower or eat or sleep. You see the finish line in the distance and figure that giving up the necessities of life for a few weeks is not such a terrible thing.

But the truth is that behaviors like these can amplify the anxiety levels and stress caused by exams, compromising your mental health and challenging your ability to focus or retain information. This means that you could actually do worse on papers, projects, and exams. Denying yourself sleep, food, and social relaxation activities also endangers your physical health by compromising your immune system. And we all know how difficult it is to attend finals when we are healthy, let alone when we are sick. So in this time of high stress, it’s important to balance the three S’s – sleep, snacks, and stability (aka ‘balance’).

  • Sleep: Rather than getting in a few extra hours of hazy memorization for exams, it’s much better for your physical and mental well-being to put at least a couple of those hours toward sleep. You will wake up refreshed and may even have extra time in the morning to review when your senses are sharper. Doctors recommend 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
  • Snacks: Eat! It’s really as simple as that. A crucial part of this is having healthy snacks and meals handy. Good snack choices include fruits (blueberries especially) and veggies as well as nuts and dark chocolate. Yes, chocolate!  It is a good source of antioxidants and acts as a natural stimulant. Chances are that you will be so engrossed in studies that you won’t know you are hungry, so plan out your daily meals. Feeding your body feeds your brain!
  • Stability: Find a balance between studying and mental wellness boosting activities. Listening to music and exercising both raise serotonin levels in the body, giving you that boost of positivity that you need to face finals. Socializing is also very important. Remember that every student is going through the same difficulties you are going through; talking and sharing these experiences with friends helps release pent-up frustrations or stress.

Follow these suggestions, and don’t forget to breathe, and you will be playing in the summer sun in no time. Good luck on finals! “May the odds be ever in your favor!”

 

My Mental Health Day Thanks:
Lora Orme; Ecology, Evolution, and Animal Behavior/English BS Degree Candidate May 2013, University of Minnesota 
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