By Alexis Musick, Toppel Peer Advisor

Many students don’t realize that finding time to relax is just as important as putting time into your schoolwork and career development. College students are known for being incredibly busy – not only do we have class to attend, but we have hundreds of pages of reading, what seems like nonstop testing, heavy organizational involvements, and (for some of us) jobs and internships. With no sleep and tiring days, we pump ourselves with coffee and energy drinks and cross our fingers that this artificial energy will keep us going. 

So, when we get the opportunity to breathe, we need to take it. While it might seem wise to continue pulling all-nighters and having heavy study sessions over our upcoming Spring Break, it’s even wiser to give your brain a rest. We cannot forget that studies have shown that sleep boosts exam scores and enhances cognitive performance while relaxation techniques can help improve academic achievement. The benefits are numerous – and not heeding the advice can be deadly both physically and mentally. Poor examination scores result in poor grades which, in turn, put your academic status in the University at risk and threaten any progress you may have made in career development. 

With Spring Break less than a month away, here a few techniques and considerations to help manage stress and relax during our week off: 

  1. Leave your cell phone at home or tucked away in a bag more often.
  2. Cut back on the caffeine. That great little drug increases heart rate and blood pressure, increases lactic acid in the muscles resulting in stiffness, and triggers insomnia.
  3. Make a schedule for physical exercise! It can neutralize those stress hormones and can do wonders for restoring the mind to a calmer, more relaxed state. 
  4. Journal. Some people find it helpful to keep a daily journal, writing for a few minutes first thing in the morning or at night before turning out the light. If that’s too much work, consider just keeping a gratitude journal, naming the things that made you happy in a day. Getting in the habit of noticing the small things we often take for granted can make a big difference in our attitude about life in general. 
  5. Go outside and get moving. Physical activity can be a major help when productivity is low. 
  6. Read on your own accord. Find something that might inspire you or interest you or let your mind wander. If you’re one of those students who always has school on the forefront (or if it’s just on the back-burner), reading can help you find new ideas and topics for assignments or essays you’re working on.
  7. Try to do something fun. Whether that means a night out with your friends or a night in watching Netflix, make sure you reward yourself for all that work you’ve put in (or will put in come finals) this school year.
  8. Schedule time for relaxation.
  9. Sleep! Staying up all night, as tempting as it may be, creates more problems than benefits. Allow yourself to get as much sleep as you need to (be it six or eight hours) so that you can perform better consistently throughout the week, instead of on just one assignment.
  10. Seek the support of friends and family when you need to vent. But think about things that are going well and try setting a specific goal for yourself that will improve your mood and help you reduce stress. 
  11. Avoid procrastination. Putting off assignments or responsibilities until the last minute can create more mental and physical stress than staying on top of them. Procrastination can affect many aspects of daily life, such as the quality of your work and your mood.