It’s the middle of the semester and stress is abound. Work is always piling up, whether it be midterms, projects, papers or just your good old fashioned deadline. To our brains, it all means the same thing: stress. When stress has its clutches around us, we can turn into knotted up wads of bad energy. Luckily, there are ways to combat this. All you need is a healthy dose of willpower and a place to start!
It Begins With Your Environment
I don’t know about you, but I often find that the root of my stress lies in the state of my living space. One of my friends always says that when her room is a mess, so is she. If you’re the type whose emotions are linked with your surroundings, then this should be your first step. For me, it happens like this: one or two articles of clothing get tossed on the floor, and in a week’s time my space has descended into anarchy. Empty bottles and discarded wrappers litter the floor. Makeup is strewn across my desk.
The first thing we do everyday when we get out of bed is touch our feet to the floor. When there’s no floor to touch because it’s covered in junk, you know you have a problem. By de-cluttering your room, you will in turn begin to de-clutter your mind. I find it rather therapeutic to clean my room in one fell swoop, but others disagree. Marie Kondo, the author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, insists that the best way to keep a space clean is to work on it a little bit every day. Letting your clothes pile up is a metaphor for how you deal with your problems. The good news is that anyone can be clean–it doesn’t take any special skills or superpowers. Once you get a taste of the harmonious feeling that comes with a clean living space, you’ll never want to go back to your old ways.
Embrace the Antioxidants!
When Kermit said, “It’s not easy being green,” he was lying, assuming he was talking about eating green things! As long as you have access to healthy, organic fresh fruits and vegetables, you can be like Kermit, too. My favorite green thing (besides Shrek) is green tea. The benefits of this drink have been touted by health gurus and nutritionists alike. It all comes down to polyphenols, which are the antioxidants found in green tea. Antioxidants are known for fighting “free-radicals” which cause inflammation, weaken cell structures and otherwise wreak havoc on our insides. By eating antioxidant rich foods like blueberries, avocados, walnuts, fresh brewed coffee (and of course green tea,) we can boost our body’s defenses against ever-present environmental pollutants. When our bodies feel cleansed, so do our minds. This in turn gives us a sense of control over our lives, which leads to lower levels of stress.
And Now For The Fun Part
It’s time for arts and crafts! Don your smocks and tie your hair back, it’s about to get messy (but this time in a good way). In the spirit of zen with the yin of harmony comes the yang of chaos. As great as it feels to tidy up, it can feel just as calming to make a big mess.
One of my favorite ways to achieve this effect is to make a collage. It can follow a specific theme, like pictures of your best friends or a memorable vacation, or it can just be anything that makes you happy. I am a notorious hoarder of magazines, so to make good use of them I like to grab a stack and start ripping out pages of pretty things. If you’re the scrapbooking type, using washi tape, stickers and other craft store staples can really liven up your piece–but sticking to good old scissors and glue is just as good.
Drawing a heart map is another easy and effective way to take stock of what matters to you and what doesn’t. You don’t have to be an artist to create something beautiful. Just draw a big heart, then fill it in with things you love like a patchwork quilt. If your heart is big enough, you can write or draw those things inside the spaces. If your canvas is smaller, try drawing lines outside of the heart to label the things you love like a web.