Friday, March 7, 2014

Midterm Stress Relief

It's that time in the semester when midterms stack up against you, inducing sleepless nights, mountains of work to be done, and a lost social life. But fear not, there is relief for this hell week.

Try out one of these 5 helpful tips along with a little 5-HTP to boost your serotonin production and leave your ready to take on the world (without gorging yourself in fast food 3 times a day).

1. Exercise - while this may seem like the last thing you want to incorporate into an already packed schedule, this could be the key to your survival. A little physical activity of your choice be it yoga, running, jogging, or even dancing will release those "feel good endorphins" as P90X Tony Horton calls them, leaving your rejuvenated and renergized to take on a night of studying. It's a great break for your eyes and will help your brain to refocus on the tasks at hand. Everyday Health even claims that a 20-minute jog around the block could result in improved mood for up to 12 hours.

2. Do something enjoyable - take a moment to do something you actually want to do. Whether that means taking a coffee break with a friend for some social interaction, drawing or writing to stimulate your creative outlets, or even vegging out for a 20 or 30-minute TV show, allow yourself a little reward for your dedicated work. It's important to give yourself some opportunity to be happy with what you're doing instead of wanting to pull your hair out reading 10-point font studying a subject you couldn't care less about. Just make sure to be careful you don't get carried away and lose all motivation for the work you still need to tackle.

3. Pucker up - a study on WebMD suggests that kissing your significant other can help to significantly reduce your stress levels. A quick peck and hug from someone you care about can help to reassure you that you're supported and will get through this rough spot. As Dr. Laura Berman says "Kissing relieves stress by creating a sense of connectedness, which releases endorphins, the chemicals that counteract stress and depression."

4. Laugh - laughter really can be the best medicine when you're feeling overwhelmed. According to Mayo Clinic something as simple as laughing "enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain." Taking a break to watch some hilarious videos on youtube, or even some Aziz Ansari or Kevin Hart on Netflix can help to reboot your mood and leave you feeling a bit more relaxed.

5. Power Nap - sleep deprivation is never a fun thing and unfortunately also a common bi-product of a week full of tests and papers. Not getting enough rest can leave you feeling groggy, unmotivated and even hinder your ability to retain the information you're trying to ingrain into your brain. WebMD informs us that different lengths of naps can benefit different target brain functions. The 15-20 minute power nap, or the "stage 2 nap, is good for altertness and motor learning skills like typing or playing the piano. Slow-wave napping... for 30-60 minutes is good for decision making skills, such as memorizing vocabulary or recalling directions. Getting rapid eye movement or REM sleep, usually 60-90 minutes of napping, plays a key roll in making new connections in the brain and solving creative problems."


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