7 ways to manage your stress (hint: it's not alcohol)

Monday, December 4, 2023 7 ways to manage your stress (hint: it's not alcohol)

[image by tim gouw | unsplash]

Great job, Huskers – you’ve made it to the last two weeks of the semester.

With papers, projects, exams, and holiday activities, it’s common to experience a rapid elevation in stress levels. In short form it is a natural response shown to enhance physical performance, improve cognitive functions and boost motivation. However, excess or prolonged exposure to stress can lead to negative consequences.

Study the following tips to help you manage the upcoming weeks.

Take a break and get active.

Exercise is a natural antidepressant. It releases endorphins that help promote a positive mood, increase focus and reduce stress. Plan to visit Campus Recreation for open gym time, a walk on the indoor track, or to work on your golf swing.

Regardless, pick a physical activity you enjoy and make time to do it several times a week leading up to finals.

Become a foodie! Plan meals ahead.

Increasing evidence suggests that the gut and the brain are connected and that eating can affect your mood. Don’t skip meals, especially as finals approach. Try to eat a balanced diet at each meal, including fruits, vegetables and proteins, and limited sugars.

If you have questions, contact a UNL nutritionist or request a cooking class.

Prioritize your goals and take them one at a time.

Focusing on everything you need to accomplish before finals as the week can be overwhelming. Instead, break down big projects or test preparation activities into bite-sized to-do items. Write them down in a list and check them off as you go. This will help you reach your goals and boost your confidence as you conquer your list one item at a time.

Avoid alcohol as a stress-reduction solution.

While alcohol may provide temporary relief from stress, it ultimately worsens the problem by disrupting the central nervous system and interfering with the body's natural stress response. Regular use of alcohol to cope with stress can lead to addiction and dependence, making it even harder to manage stress effectively.

Alcohol also interferes with sleep patterns, which can exacerbate stress and make it harder to cope with daily challenges.

Get some fresh air and sunlight.

Connect with nature to reduce stress. Use breaks to head outdoors, whether walking back to your residence or intentionally taking in fresh air and sunlight, this simple practice can have calming effects on the mind. Use the campus walking trails as your guide.

Attend one of Lincoln’s many holiday light displays.

Grab a cup of hot cocoa to head out and view thousands of lights that offer holiday cheer. Check out these recommended spots for great light displays on the UNL campus, in downtown Lincoln, and around the city.

Get support from a professional.

Sometimes, self-care isn’t enough to help you manage your stress, and that’s OK. If you need extra help, there are on-campus resources that can assist you. Counseling and Psychological Services offer talk therapy at no cost for students in a comprehensive short-term counseling model. Call 402.472.7450 to schedule an appointment.

If you think you could benefit from medication for ongoing mental health concerns, contact the University Health Center psychiatry team by calling 402.472.5000

Best wishes as you wrap up the semester. You got this.


Want an Alcohol and Other Drugs presentation or program for your RSO, chapter, or group? Connect with Jon Gayer, assistant director for alcohol and drug education, at jgayer3@unl.edu and 402-472-2583.

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