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Dec. 1, 2011 Volume 33, No. 14

Ten tips to reduce end-of-semester stress


Health psychologist Lynn Rossy offers advice

Comfortably distant deadlines have a way of manifesting into real dates after the Thanksgiving holiday. Students are jolted back into a frazzled reality of term papers and finals, while faculty and staff deal with their own brand of end-of-semester stress.

“You have to think, for every assignment you hand out, you get ‘x’ number back,” said Michael Grinfeld, associate professor for magazine journalism. “Every time you put a time fuse on something, it raises the stress level. After Thanksgiving break, everything has a time limit.”

Lynn Rossy is a health psychologist for Healthy for Life, part of the T.E. Atkins University of Missouri Wellness Program. She teaches meditation classes throughout the school year to faculty, staff, students and their families. Here she shares her top-ten list of ways to bust stress at the end of the semester.

  1. Make a to-do list of the things you need to get done in one day. Prioritize those items.
  2. Only check email at limited times during the day. Don’t have it on all day long.
  3. Avoid other unnecessary distractions (i.e. Facebook)
  4. Every two hours, take a one- to five-minute break from your desk. You aren’t as productive if you don’t let your mind relax from time to time. Take a few minutes to relax, breathe deep, walk around the block.
  5. Stay away from extra caffeine and energy drinks. Use stretching, walking, running or other exercise as a way of re-invigorating the body and mind.
  6. Eat healthy. Stay away from sugary snacks that give you a quick high and then have you running on empty for the next few hours.
  7. Get good rest. Staying away from alcohol and the computer at least an hour before you go to bed will increase your ability to sleep well. In addition, try to eliminate other sources of light, such as phones or bright alarm clocks. The darker the room, the better you sleep.
  8. Go to a noontime sitting meditation class on campus.
  9. Listen to breathing, meditation and yoga practices online.
  10. Relax and take five deep breaths — or more if you need it — and remind yourself, “It will all be over soon.”

Grinfeld agrees with Rossy’s final assessment.

“It’s time-limited stress,” Grinfeld said. “I just power through. Sometimes things are stressful; there’s really nothing you can do but just do it.”

— Megan Cassidy