S-T-R-E-S-S-E-D O-U-T! Here at MIT, that’s the usual answer to the question, “How are you?” — especially midway through the semester. While some studies suggest that stress is a significant factor contributing to weight gain, aka the infamous “freshman fifteen” issue, we really do not mind the pressure. Because, hey, pressure is what turns a lump of coal into diamond, as my friend Deeni Fatiha ’13 would say.
However, we do not like the feeling of getting overwhelmed by our academic workload, social network, roommates, all the dynamics of young adult relationships, eating healthy and the new meal plan, etc. … so what do we do?
1. Get some sleep!
This might be in the form of taking a power nap, going to bed early, sleeping late, or simply sticking to a regular healthy sleep schedule. If you are having a headache trying to solve an 18.03 problem (I am a freshman! What else did you expect?), try it after a refreshing nap. You’ll surely be more productive with a well-rested and clearer brain.
2. Eat healthy!
Eat fruits and veggies, protein, and whole grains. One thing my first semester taught me is that having a proper breakfast before classes makes a person and his or her stomach happy companions. Also, bring your caffeine consumption down. Definitely indulge in some sweet chocolatey delicacies whenever you feel like you’ve been starved of them for a while.
3. It’s workout time!
You don’t have to spend two exhausting sweaty hours at the gym. Just take a walk along the Charles while listening to your favorite music. Breathe in the cold fresh air or walk to your favorite restaurant nearby. Eat and then walk back. Or take a yoga or ballroom dancing class. Go swimming with friends and splash around. There are loads of options, and you can create even more.
4. Fun time!
The best way to do this is to grab some friends and do something you all love. Have an ice cream, hop onto the T and explore Boston, go shopping, make a robot (if that’s your idea of having fun), watch a movie, listen to music, play some games or a musical instrument, dance, or sing! You can even make your “writing lab report time” enjoyable. Work with your friends, use their input and take a five minute chat break as you complete each section. Before long, the whole report will be ready to roll.
5. Branch out!
There’s surely a student activity group you’re interested in. Even if there isn’t, start a new group. Getting involved will give you some time away from college academics while doing something you love. Check out http://web.mit.edu/asa/resources/group-list.html for a list student groups at MIT.
My personal favorite is writing for The Tech. But let me spill the beans here — I’m writing this article to take a break from my 9.00 notes. Ssshhhh …
6. Get some distance
Create your own space in your room, in your dorm’s common room, or in a library. Get some time solely for yourself. Stepping out from the crazy college environment for a while works magic in reducing stress.
7. Stay connected!
During my international students’ orientation, I was taught by the MIT International Students Office (ISO) that the ultimate solution to every problem on Earth is “Skype-ing your mom!” So skype with people you love — parents, siblings, close friends. Crack stupid jokes and talk nonsense. And if you want to talk with friends at MIT, that’s even better. Even if you rant for thirty minutes about how stressed you are, you’ll feel lighter afterwards.
8. Ask for help!
Do not forget that your advisor, associate advisor and loads of other people are out there to listen to you and to make your life easier. The best people to go when you don’t know where to go are the Medlinks. They know a lot about resources available on campus. Just shout out! Help will arrive!
Last but not least, don’t get stressed out about being stressed. Stress is quite normal in college. We just have to breathe.