How to relax during a stressful semester

Find your technique to relax and unwind

Jovana Espinoza, Opinion Writer

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The overwhelming stress caused by midterms, upcoming finals, and all sorts of assignments woven in between is difficult to overcome. In addition to the many resources and counseling CSU Bakersfield offers its students, there are other ways to decrease the emotional and mental strain that all students feel toward the end of the semester.

“Stress can. . . help you rise to meet challenges. It’s what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration. . . or drives you to study for an exam. . . But beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, mood, productivity, relationships, and your quality of life,” according to Jeanne Segal, et al. in the HelpGuide.org article “Stress Symptoms, Signs, and Causes: Improving Your Ability to Handle Stress.”
Relaxing does not mean throwing homework aside and kicking back to binge-watch a Hulu or Netflix series. Doing this might create more stress in the long run. Completely ignoring the work that needs to be done for class might solve the immediate anxiety that we feel, but once the episode is over or the activity we have decided to undertake is completed, we remember the homework that has been stacking up.

“I meditate while listening to music to relax,” said Fransisco Mederos, 18, and biology major. He goes on to say that it is difficult to relax because you can’t help but think of everything that needs to get done.

For this reason, one of the best ways to relax during a time of great stress is by feeling prepared or productive before taking time for yourself. Working efficiently for an hour or two in the morning and then taking the rest of the day off helps with the stress, while getting some work done. Time well spent will allow us to feel like we’ve earned the day off rather than creating more stress by simply ignoring our work.

Feeling more in control is another way to reduce stress and decrease the overwhelming anxiety our hectic lives have over our emotional state. Stress is a vicious cycle; we can get stressed over how much stress we are feeling. This perpetual cycle is fueled by the feeling of loss of control. The feeling that we have no control is an illusion, however, because we do have certain control over our lives, and the best way to utilize that power can be by organizing and planning out our days and activities. I try to make a list at the start of every day so that homework assignments and study time slots do not overwhelm me. Every time I cross out an item from my list, I have this feeling of accomplishment and control of my time.

“I like to cook, sleep, watch Netflix, or try to do anything that’s self-care to relax. I try to be organized to not get overwhelmed,” said Skylar Thomas, 20, a junior and psychology major.

The most important (but difficult) way to keep stress levels low during a busy week or semester is to become self-reliant and count on ourselves to find relaxation. There are wonderful resources—like counseling—on campus to help students deal with the strain of college life. There are also friends willing to hear you describe a tiresome day, but we cannot always count on others to make us feel better. It is equally important to look internally for motivation and peace.

“We all have our moments of stress, but you have to remember that all things pass,” said Brian Navarro, 18, a major in music.

When I feel overwhelmed and start to feel tension, I resort to self-talk to motivate myself and keep calm as soon as stress begins to weigh heavily on my shoulders. I’ve tried yoga and motivational YouTube videos to help with the stress, but self-talk and positive remarks have worked the best for me.

Everyone is different, so my technique might not work for everyone. Although it is extremely difficult to have an internal source of motivation and relaxation during a hectic time, developing this self-helping skill is worth a try.