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Dr. Laura Pipher

Dr. Laura Pipher

Keeping sane and stress free! (as much as possible..)

So midterm season has finally ended (thank god), and these past few weeks of studying have caused LOTS of stress and sleepless nights, not to mention cortisol levels THROUGH the roof (typical student life, I know). It seems that especially as a student, this comes in very distinct waves. The semester begins, everyone is relaxed, healthy eating, exercising and hanging out with friends.

Then comes the impending doom…..

its two weeks before midterms and you realize that you really haven’t even started reviewing……

you think to yourself, “oh man, here comes the cram”

so you end up cramming for your exams, and at the end of it all you come out tired, stressed, sometimes even delusional, and wanting NOTHING more than to NEVER ever, ever study again. You decide that you’ll prepare better for the next set of exams, but then realize that you NEED the break that follows exam week and enjoy getting back to exercising, sleeping, eating healthy, and actually participating in fun activities. So the cycle continues..

Now obviously I have been experiencing these cycles for years and still have not found a “perfect” way to properly prepare for exams, and live a “balanced life” simultaneously.

But this is just MY life. This applies to not only students, but stay at home mothers and fathers, working singles, working couples, and really anyone living in the fast paced lifestyle of the twenty first century! The problem? STRESS! — there is never enough hours in the day, or days in the week to POSSIBLY do everything you need to do!! The solution??– well there doesn’t seem to be any clear cut solutions to this, as everyone experiences and deals with stress very differently. But stress is a REAL problem, leading to an increased risk for developing most, if not all chronic diseases.

So what can you do?

Well the one thing I have learned over the passed few years is that no matter how prepared you are, at the end of the day a stressful situation is going to be just that. Stressful. (AKA- 5 midterm exams in 3 days). In a stressful situation there are the things you CAN control, and there are the things you CANT.

Some of my solutions:

  • control YOU- make sure that you are spending SOME time (within reason) doing something you like, or something that makes you happy- — whether you take 10 minutes to drink a tea, sit outside, or an hour to catch up on your favourite show – you will be able to come back from that short break refreshed and ready to tackle any task better than you were before.

–plan out your days- make sure to schedule in break time so it doesn’t get overshadowed by “more important tasks”

-if you don’t have time for a large “time out” try some meditation- if you aren’t very familiar with meditation there are many awesome youtube videos for guided meditations- they run anywhere from 3 minutes to an hour and can be used for relaxing and increasing sleep as well as increasing energy and focus

  • Sleep- another component which is extremely important in reducing overall stress levels– this seems to be something I struggle with the most, because once my brain gets going it’s almost impossible to stop!….. Sometimes stopping a task earlier to trade off for an extra hour of sleep is more beneficial in the end even though at the time it seems like the worst idea.

some tips-drinking sleepy teas (containing valerian root), taking valerian capsules, as well as some magnesium before bed really help to calm the mind and relax the body!

  • Exercise- this is an area where I always fall short when it comes down to crunch time

solution–get a yoga mat!- I find when I am studying I can never seem to make it to the gym, so doing anything from simple stretches to practicing yoga poses (youtube is also great for this) will help to clear your mind and keep you relaxed

  • eat healthy- who has time to cook healthy meals???

– choose a meal- (homemade soup, chilli, stew etc— these are great and nutritious )- and cook it in a LARGE batch, enough to feed you for the entire time you will be busy. Freeze, and thaw when you are ready to eat!

Whatever stressful situation you are dealing with, just remember (and I am constantly telling myself this)

-Keep a healthy you FIRST

you will not only be more productive in the task, but will be able to handle future stressors with ease!

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