|Adapted by WGU from WellConnect|
Some people feel like they have to be productive or doing something all the time. As a college student, it can be even more difficult to find time to rest and relax with looming due dates and various responsibilities both in and outside of school. COVID-19 has amped up stress levels for many of us for the better part of the last year, making it even more of a priority to incorporate some downtime in your daily life. With the new year fast approaching, give yourself permission to relax and recharge.
You can’t—and shouldn’t—be productive all the time. Life is about finding balance. Don’t feel guilty for giving yourself a break at times, especially when you really need it. And how do you know when you really need a break? Luckily, our bodies have a way of letting us know when rest is needed, so work on being in tune with yourself and listening for these signals.
Monitor your stress levels.
A certain amount of stress is healthy and manageable. It can be a driving force to get things done. However, too much stress can wear you down and isn’t good for your overall well-being. When you start to feel your stress levels are more than you can manage, give yourself a break and incorporate relaxing activities into your day. What activities help you destress and take your mind off your to-do list? This is different for everyone—maybe it’s reading a good book, taking a bath, getting some exercise, calling a friend, or taking a nap. By letting yourself rest when you need to, you’ll be more productive and clear-headed when you are tackling your to-do list.
Schedule relaxation into your day.
You can help yourself feel more balanced in daily life and proactively avoid stress overload by scheduling downtime into your week. For instance, if you know you’re going to have a busy week of studying, find time in the evening or on the weekend for some self-care. It’s always nice to have something fun to look forward to, and you can even use this as motivation to cross items off your to-do list. Also, take advantage of breaks from school, as this is an ideal time to recharge and take time for yourself.
When you are engaged in a leisure activity, be fully present. If you catch yourself worrying about what happened yesterday or what you must do tomorrow, bring your focus back to the moment. Focus on the sights and sounds of wherever you are. You can plan to do something relaxing, but it will not actually be relaxing if you are worrying the entire time. Cultivate an ability to be in the moment, without rushing through it or worrying about what comes next.
Exercise and relaxation go together.
Incorporating regular movement into your day helps manage stress levels and can make you feel more relaxed. Aim to engage in some form of physical activity most days of the week. Take a study break to do some jumping jacks or go for a walk. Find a workout buddy to hold yourself accountable. Even if you’re not working out together, you could plan to check in with each other or use an app to share workouts. Notice how you feel after you get your blood pumping a bit. Often, exercise increases focus, clears your mind, and decreases stress levels.
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