By Sarah Masker
This is when things get really serious in the semester. As we end week four, those dreaded first tests, essays, and presentations are just around the corner. Maybe we’ve suffered through one or two already. Maybe we’re telling ourselves that one bad grade isn’t the end of the world because there’s plenty of time to make up for it; it’s only week four. The stress has been slowly building up and now is the time people start laughing hysterically at absolutely nothing, talking to squirrels, throwing knives, or drinking beers to get through those essays. We are a fine bunch of students, no doubt about that, yet none of these activities actually helps with the stress in the long run. Here are a few tips to help a suffering student hold on to their sanity.
My roommates and I have an agreement we call the “massage train.” Every night we line up for shoulder massages, then go to bed feeling loose and refreshed. Some people might think that this is too touchy-feely, and to them I say: What is wrong with you? Who turns down a massage? Not only does the nightly ritual work out the knots we build up over the day, but it also provides social time and emotional bonding. Studies have shown that personal contact increases both happiness levels and the effectiveness of our immune systems, which, when combined with the bliss of a good shoulder massage, seems like the perfect package. Plus, everyone needs some time for a little small talk.
This past week, my Pilates instructor shared a piece of wisdom with the class: smiling – even if it’s a fake smile – tricks the brain into believing it’s happy. If you feel stupid smiling at the wall, your laptop, or that pet that shouldn’t be on campus, then there’s always the old trick of holding a pencil in your mouth. This requires the use of the same muscles that work when smiling. Now, instead of looking like an idiot grinning at nothing, you look like a stress-eater who has moved on to bigger and better things.
Earlier this year, I said that my time in Ecuador taught me showers aren’t really necessary in life. That was because I could never rely on the hot water. Now that hot water is a given, however, I’d like to retract that statement because I’ve realized hot showers are one of the best things in life. There’s nothing quite as soothing as a lungful of steam. If you want to get crazy with things, sing a song while you’re in there. Singing in a shower after a massage train while holding a pencil in your mouth would be the ideal stress relief situation, but I don’t know anyone who can sing with a pencil in their mouth. We should all work on that instead of our respective majors. We can pop bubble wrap, too.
We all know that utterly exhausted state when sleep sounds like heaven, but we don’t have time to sleep because we have work to get done, but we are physically incapable of doing anything because we’re so stressed and worn down. That’s the principal catch-22 of college. When you reach that point, it’s probably time to take a shower, massage your shoulders, make some tea, and smile it out. The semester has to end eventually, right?