Life can be an intricate tangle of highs and lows, and 2022 will no doubt bring the same. With graduation looming, the stress of internship hunting, revolving exam seasons and more, it’s easy to get caught in a web of stress and anxiety. As we go into another year (and semester), it’s more important than ever to develop healthy habits that allow you to keep your mental health in check. From daily habits to spontaneous activities, here are five things you can try to manage stress this semester.
While many of us solely cook to eat, that shouldn’t always be the case. Learning to cook is a life skill that can help everyone in the long run, but it is also a great way to take a break from reality. From classic dinner recipes to decadent baked goods, the act of cooking something allows you to take a step back from navigating your own life. With a recipe in hand, the simple acts of chopping, stirring and placing something can be very meditative. Try easy fridge-cleaning recipes such as fried rice, or bake something exciting such as an upside-down cake. Bonus points if you make a relaxing playlist to go along with your cooking!
Start a journal
Simply put, journaling is a great way to reflect on your thoughts and let off some steam. Whether you choose to make it a daily habit or just when you need a space to reflect, writing down what you’re feeling and what’s causing it is a good way to ponder what you can do to de-stress. Try keeping a physical journal in a spot where you can easily access it, such as your backpack or desk, or open up a note and type it on your phone. No matter what way you journal, remember that your thoughts do not have to be coherent or perfect; rather focus on making sure you write down everything that helps you clear your mind.
Read a new book
Reading books isn’t just something you have to do for your classes — it can be a great idea to read, get this, for fun. Picking up a good book allows you to take a brief journey into someone else’s life and their adventures, offering you a respite from your own. This practice is best done with lighter reads that you can finish in a few sittings, since longer or more plot-heavy books may add to your plate. Some of my recommendations include “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng, “Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid and “Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid. To make the experience even more enjoyable, try going to one of your favorite libraries, coffee shops or a shady spot on Memorial Glade.
Talk to someone
Sometimes the best way to get yourself out of a slump is by talking to someone. Whether it’s a friend, instructor or another important person, it can be a good idea to vocalize your thoughts and feelings to someone — especially when they have been through similar experiences and care about you. Know that there will always be someone there for you to talk to. You don’t have to carry your stressors alone.
Limit your phone usage
Whether we want to admit it or not, we spend a large chunk of our day on our phones. Because of this, many daily stressors can originate from phone usage. Whether you’re overloaded with information from news apps or spending unhealthy amounts of time witnessing others’ lives on social media, now’s a great time to try healthy habits such as tracking your social media usage, deleting distracting apps or setting times throughout the day where you avoid using your phone.
As the pressures of school and life come into our lives, it’s important to remember how to effectively manage your mental health. Whether you’ve already found your perfect routine or are still looking for ways to reduce your stress, know that by trying new things, you’ll find habits that work for you.