Get Org-anized

“I’m going to a meeting. And then another one after that.”

“Didn’t you just have a meeting?”

“Yeah, but I have more. And another one tomorrow.”

This is kind of how it goes for me. Being a member of four organizations, it’s not uncommon for me to have three meetings in a week. One night I even had three meetings in a row. At a school like Emerson, sometimes it’s hard to say no and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the stress that your organizations are adding to your already busy workload. Here are a few tips from someone who knows this stress firsthand.

Get Organized

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If you don’t already have a way of organizing all of the work you do, that’s your first step. Since college is so busy, it’s best to have a place to keep everything that you need to do in one spot so that you know all of your obligations. It might be easier to rank assignments and meetings in order of priority or due date so that you know what to do first. I usually highlight all of my assignments based on class or organization so I can quickly spot what I need to have completed for everything I’m involved in. If there’s a lot of things you have to do, it’s only going to be worse if you don’t hand things in or forget deadlines.

Prioritize

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If you find that you’re too stressed, consider doing less next semester or maybe dropping a club that same semester if you can. There are certain clubs, like magazines, where it’s harder to do that mid-semester because you’re on the staff. But if it’s a club where the only requirement is to go to meetings, it might be beneficial to take a few weeks off to get a hold of things or even drop the club entirely. You can always rejoin next semester if you think the workload will be lighter.

Focus on Yourself

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It’s so easy to compare yourself to others, especially when it comes to all of the activities that your peers are involved in. It’s easy to go on Facebook and see the films your friends have worked on or the articles your classmates have written and feel you’re not doing enough. I know I’ve often looked at classmates who are more involved than me and had the thought that I’m not doing enough, even when sometimes I’m way over my head. Having a heavy workload forces you to learn a lot about yourself, about what you can and cannot handle. Focus on what you can handle and not what everyone else is doing. That person in your class who’s in seven different organizations may look like they’re doing okay, but they probably barely have time to breathe, and if you can’t handle that (because honestly who can?) it’s okay to take a step back and reevaluate what you’re involved in.

Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

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Don’t be afraid to say no. Emerson students are especially bad at this because everyone around us is always doing so many amazing things. It’s easy to feel like you’re underachieving if you’re not in seven different organizations. Every person is different and you know what you can handle. If your workload is too much, don’t feel pressured to stretch yourself too thin. It’s okay to miss a meeting or two every once in a while if you’re feeling too stressed. People will be understanding as long as you’re responsible about it.

Take Time to Destress

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If it’s 1 a.m. and you’re in between writing a paper, reading for a class and trying to prepare for meetings and classes the next day, maybe take a deep breath and take a minute to yourself. Take a long shower or watch an episode of a TV show to give yourself time to relax and decompress. The paper will eventually get done, but you probably won’t be successful if you’re too stressed or tired. Remember that your health is your first priority.

Sometimes it seems like attending an arts school pressures students to think that if they’re not doing well in all their classes as well as taking on multiple organizations, then they’re not getting the most out of their college experience. I have friends who go to more traditional schools and they may take more classes that have a larger workload, but I feel like the pressure to be involved is a lot less. It’s okay to not be involved in 101 things; just do what makes you happy and enjoy your college experience the way you want to.

Images: Giphy (5)

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Find Your Zen and Destress Your Life

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

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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!

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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

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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.

Back to the Kid’s Table: Using Regression as a Stress Reliever

In colleges across America, the two first weeks of December are some of the most stressful days of the year. Final exams and projects are all crammed into this tiny time frame where a semester’s worth of knowledge is expected to be condensed into one effort. A popular way many college students deal with that stress is to regress. In the past few years, puppy petting sessions have been a hit on campuses with scientific evidence starting to back up why these are proven stress relievers. Here are four ways you can alleviate the anxiety brought on by finals by turning back the clock and not acting your age.

Use Coloring Books

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by Karen Mardahl, “228-365 Coloring book” under CC by SA 2.0

Being able to go from concentrating on everything to just your pen and your paper is relaxing. Coloring books are a creative way for destressing while also expressing yourself.  In the art therapy world, mandalas have long been considered a healthy way to cope with anxiety. I find this activity is most useful when done by yourself with some music playing in the background. A study published by the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology shows that when people do creative activities away from work, they are more adept at handling stress and completing work. So in a way, coloring is helping you prepare for finals.

Watch Disney Anything

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By Danielle Elder, “Disney Movies” under CC by 2.0

Or Dreamworks, if you grew up in that kind of family. Watching classic childhood favorites is an easy way to cope with the uncertainty of the world by using the familiarity of nostalgia. You’re seeing something you know well and have formed your own attachment to. It’s probably the happiest form of escapism that exists; there’s no extremely crude jokes or dark subject matter, there’s catchy songs and happy endings. Personally, my favorite is Disney’s patriarchy pommeling feminist classic Mulan. Eddie Murphy’s Mushu provides the perfect amount of comedic relief and the plot is serious enough to make you reflect, but in the end everything is ok.  With its themes of adversity and empowerment, the movie leaves you with the feeling you can conquer anything (also the finale song features the ultimate collaboration of 98 Degrees and Stevie Wonder.) To make it an even better experience, find a group of people to watch the movie with you and let the reminiscing begin.

Braid Friendship Bracelets

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by Nina Helmer, “Bracelets” under CC by NC-ND 2.0

Go back to the summer camp days by braiding some friendship bracelets. All you need is thread, which can be found online or at your local craft store. My favorite design to make is a Chevron, but there are plenty of guides online that you can follow. No matter what pattern you do, when it comes down to it, all you’re doing is knotting knots. The repetition provides a calming sense of order and clarity. Unlike the other two activities, this one makes a great fashion accessory or simple Christmas gift.

Break out the Play-Doh

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by Dennis Brekke, “Play-Doh” under CC by 2.0

Finals bring a lot emotions: panic, dread, frustration, anger, despair. For some people, being able to squeeze, pound and break something without actually doing harm can be extremely cathartic. Play-Doh is like a moldable stress ball that is usually encouraged for little kids. Along with being therapeutic in a tactile sense, playing with Play-Doh is also an outlet for creative expression. Decompressing with a can of this stuff is an inexpensive alternative to smashing whatever fragile objects are in your dorm or going the teen angst route and screaming into your pillow.

Drinking Juicy Juice boxes during any of these activities is an unnecessary but nice nostalgic touch as well. Most importantly, remember to act your real age when doing the work for studying or completing final projects and not the one you’re regressing to.

Functionali-tea

When I was younger, drinking tea for me was almost like a right of passage. I would be out to dinner with my family for a special occasion, and when it was time for dessert all the adults would order fancy after-dinner drinks that I knew I couldn’t have even if I didn’t quite know why. My dad would always order me a hot tea to include me in these special drinks that were served with our desserts. I would watch in awe as he emptied packets of sugar and streams of milk into the dark drink, pushing it over to me when he was finished. I don’t know what it was about hot tea when I was little, but it was a drink that enchanted me.

I went through a long period of time where I abandoned my relationship with tea for coffee, declaring it much more helpful to me than tea. However, I’ve come to realize that while I only use coffee for caffeine boosts, tea can be used for much more than that. Here are some ways I have discovered, through both the internet and my own experience, that tea is helpful.

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Teas to Wake You Up

Matcha tea is the tea I’ve used most often to wake me up. It’s also super simple because you can drink it plain or with sugar or honey, so not much work is required to make it taste good. While I still tend to drink a lot of coffee, sometimes I prefer to drink matcha because it still has caffeine in it. Sometimes coffee makes me nauseous and makes me crash soon after drinking it, but I find that this is normally not the case with matcha. Matcha also has other health benefits such as boosting your immune system and providing relief from stress, so if you don’t like coffee but still want caffeine, matcha might be a good alternative.

Any other caffeinated tea is good for waking you up, so it just depends on your preference of tea. Sometimes I drink regular black tea if I want tea that I can put milk and sugar in. Plus, black tea brings me back to the days of drinking tea at dessert with my family.

Teas to Help You Sleep

Sometimes, even after a long day, it’s hard to unwind and get into the state you need to go to bed. Chamomile is a really good tea to help you sleep, because it soothes the nervous system to relax your body.

There are also a lot of tea brands that make sleepy time tea,, so if you’re partial to a brand they probably make one. Celestial Seasonings is a brand that often comes up when I type sleepy time tea into Google, and they also make many other varieties of tea. I’ve never tried any sleepy time teas before, because I normally don’t use tea to help me fall asleep, but I have had friends use sleepy time teas (though the brand names escape me) and I think they work. If you don’t want to drink chamomile, or you’re just curious as to how teas like this work, the may be a good type to try.

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We live in a stressful world, so figuring out ways to de-stress is always good, especially for college students. Sometimes there’s nothing better than curling up somewhere with a hot cup of tea, and if it helps to relieve some of your stress, it’s even better. Lavender is a good tea to relieve stress, especially if you are experiencing a tension headache. I’ve also often seen lavender used in things like lotions that help to relieve stress, so that shows that it works in a variety of ways and forms.

I have also never had ginseng tea, but much like lavender, it aids stress relief. It helps clear out mental stress and exhaustion almost immediately. Additionally, it’s also good for sleeping as well, so if you find yourself super stressed and unable to go to sleep, ginseng might be a good option.

Teas for Nauseagingerrootoil1

There’s nothing worse than feeling sick, especially with something like nausea where it’s sometimes impossible to find remedies for it. Ginger tea is really good for nausea, especially nausea connected with pregnancy, motion sickness, and chemotherapy. It can also help with digestion and even with menstrual cramps. If you like tea, or at least like to stock up on teas that have multiple uses, ginger tea is a good one to have.

There are a lot of different teas and even more ways that they are helpful. Some teas, while not included on this list have multiple uses and some are even just enjoyable to drink for fun. This website, where a lot of the pictures were taken from, is helpful to find out the various uses of teas. Whether you are an avid tea drinker or you just keep it around for one of these uses, it certainly has a lot of functionali-tea.

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For quick reference, this is a great infograph to use that shows you which teas you can drink in a wide variety of situations.

 

(Photos were taken from these sources: https://www.organicfacts.net/ and https://www.pinterest.com/pin/368450813236594525/)