Years from now, you’ll probably look back on your time in college as some of the best years of your life. But right now, you’re just stressed out AF about going back to school. From picking the right college parties to the right college relationship to, oh yeah, picking the right major that’s potentially going to set the course for the rest of your life, there are a lot of big decisions on your plate right now. Not to mention trying to figure out how to land your first job after graduation.
If you’re feeling the stress, taking care of your mental and physical health should be your top priority. Patrick Mason, a 2012 Bikram Yoga competitor and top instructor at TruFusion, gave us some yogi-approved tips on how to go back to school with a plan to stay relaxed and ready to tackle whatever comes your way.
1. Check your posture. If you’re hitting the books hard and spending hours slumped over your desk, you’re going to start feeling some lower back and joint pain. “My advice is to take a deep breath every now and then, and notice how your posture changes as you get more and more air,” says Mason. “As you slowly exhale, try not to let your spine change shape. Keep that posture as long as possible, but when you notice yourself slipping, just repeat the process.”
2. Get up and move. We know you’re exhausted with constantly studying (and “studying”), but you’ll feel better physically and mentally if you take time daily to stay active. Though Mason is a little biased toward yoga, if that’s not your thing, he also advises taking advantage of your school’s intramural sports teams or gym facilities. “The key is not to let your blood flow get stagnant; that leads to more fatigue,” he says. Even just getting up and taking a walk between classes can help.
3. Stick to the routine that works best for you. We can’t believe a fitness instructor is saying this, but Mason acknowledges that the back-to-school months probably aren’t the best time to start a new hardcore fitness routine. “Take some time to go into fitness autopilot for awhile and save your focus for school and homework,” he says. “Everyone is different, and if you’re the type who needs all the focus they can get for schoolwork, then this is your move.”
4. Don’t hit snooze. If your daily routine includes a workout, it’s best to get it out of the way first thing in the morning, before you have to go to class. As Mason explains, “It wakes up your body, makes you alert before having to actually start learning, and leaves your afternoon open for other fun things. If you can learn to push yourself hard in your morning workout, you can spend the rest of the day knowing you’ve already completed the hardest part of your day.” At least until that Poli-Sci exam.
5. Know when to give yourself a break. If you’re sitting in your dorm cramming all day long, eventually you’re going to hit a wall and your brain just isn’t going to absorb any more information — and then you’ll be even more stressed. It’s totally fine to take a break and go watch TV, stretch, scroll through Instagram, give yourself a shoulder massage, grab a healthy snack or do anything else that will help you relax and refresh. “Pick something you know lets your mind cool off, and make time daily to include it in your life,” says Mason. “A quick reset can work wonders on a troubled mind.” Mason also advises unplugging from your devices as a regular part of your daily routine — some studies show just six minutes of non-digital reading can cut stress levels by 60 percent.
6. Just breathe. Whenever you begin feeling stressed, Mason advises taking five slow, deep breaths to bring more oxygen to your brain. “This will calm your mind and give you something other than your normal grind to focus on,” he says, “even if it is only for a few seconds.”
How are you managing back-to-school stress? Tweet your tips to us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)