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How to manage stress when it’s crunch-time

Sep 21, 2018

We’ve all been there. Your desk is sagging under the weight of all the things you have to do, and time is running out. Your palms sweat, your heart races, and you manage to perform the gargantuan willpower feat of closing Facebook for good. It’s do-or-die time. Luckily,  we’ve got some ideas for keeping calm and making things go easier.


If you’re in the middle of a stressful stretch of work, it can feel counterintuitive to step back and exercise. Who could even think about getting swole at a time like this?  Well, exercise has more benefits than just helping you build a beach bod. It’s proven to not only reduce stress, but also to improve brain function and put you in great shape (ha!) to tackle the work ahead. Aerobic exercise is especially good: running, swimming, or even playing a game of pickup basketball or touch football can do wonders for your mood and focus.


The word ‘meditation’ used to evoke some mystical image of a man in robes levitating on the summit of a mountain somewhere, but Western culture is increasingly coming to realize the benefits of simple mindfulness and relaxation. You don’t need a spiritual guide or religious center to meditate (although there are forms of meditation with immense spiritual and religious significance). Practically speaking, all you need is a quiet place to go for a few minutes.

Sit down. Get comfortable. Set a timer on your phone for five minutes and turn on ‘Do Not Disturb.’ Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Count the in breaths, and count the out breaths. When you find your mind wandering away, overtaken by thoughts and stress, just focus back on the breath. It’s that simple.

Drink water

It can be easy to attribute your headache to long nights staring at a screen, but chances are you could also benefit from a glass of water. Hydration is a day-long process, and it’s good for you. If you can eat healthily at the same time, even better. But hey–a well-placed Snickers bar wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world either.  After all, you’ve gotta stay energized.

Make lists

If you’ve got a big project sitting in front of you, it can be daunting to imagine where to start. Instead of trying to chomp it all down in one go, bite off smaller pieces and tackle those. The sense of accomplishment from crossing smaller items off your checklist–known as chunking, a word managing to sound both disgusting and productive–can be helpful for seeing the path in front of you not as one huge cliff, but as a series of easier steps.

Lean on people

The college process is stressful, but you’re not alone! Hundreds of thousands of high school students all around the country, and around the world, are going through the same thing. Remember to reach out to your friends and classmates, because difficult times are always easier with loved ones by your side.


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