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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Ten creative coping mechanisms for the stress of student life

Published: April 5, 2012
Section: Opinions

Perhaps you are a new Brandeis student and just realized how strange the spring semester schedule is. Or maybe you are a university veteran who is used to yearly panic attacks, which often happen near the second round of midterms. Our double-break system divides the semester and reduces the stress of looming finals. While the welcome April break is upon us, its arrival means that pretending like finals aren’t happening this year is becoming less and less possible. With your mental health in mind, we have teamed up to bring you a list of surefire, serious and sometimes silly solutions for the stress that is sure to precede the summer.

1. Pretend you won the lottery
After the mass spam on Facebook about liking posts to win money from the huge lottery winners in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland, you are probably already thinking about all the money you could have won. Try taking time to write out exactly what you would do with it all. Imagine the possibilities. Pick a company at random and buy them out. Replace it with a dog salon. What would your ideal dream be? The world is your oyster.

2. Take up tree-climbing or play on the new campus swings
We all know that exercise is a proven stress-buster, but extreme stress calls for extreme measures. For a change of scenery in your activity, head outside! Tree-climbing is challenging, stimulating and invigorating; swinging is relaxing. The weather is getting to be tolerable and campus is looking beautiful after its Admitted Students Day makeover. We are lucky to have trees-a-plenty at Brandeis and swings sprinkled all across campus. Go out and take advantage!

3. Become the king of recycling
Remember all of those times you were too lazy to wash out your Einsteins salad container and ended up throwing it in the trash? In between flashcards and study sessions, sort through your dorm’s recycling bin to procrastinate and save the world at the same time.

4. Try baking
Instead of wasting points and calories on candy from the C-Store and Usdan french fries to sustain you in the library, leave the library for an hour or two to eat take-out with friends and make some munchies of your own. Make a huge batch so that you can eat some now and still have leftovers. Baking can be fun, cookie dough is always delicious and, even if you are not a master chef, remember that we live on a college campus. This means that there are always going to be hungry people to devour your leftovers.

5. Dance
Close all of your books. Minimize all of your Microsoft Word documents, your browsers full of research, references and Facebook. Turn on some mood lighting or turn the lights off and put on a cool music video. Make a playlist of your favorite dancing songs. Utilize any and all speakers accessible, turn the volume up and dance.

6. Clean your room
Do your laundry, change your sheets, make your bed, fold everything and put it all away. Wipe down your desk, throw out everything that needs to be thrown out and organize the papers you have left. Sweep, vacuum, take the trash out. Getting your life into physical order makes it easier to get your mind into order.

7. Pull a “Friends” at Chum’s
Wait for a group of prospective students to come around the corner, and then walk into Chum’s with five of your friends. Grab a couch and order a bunch of coffees that no one will end up drinking. Say some scripted jokes, and then laugh and clap when your fake episode ends.

8. Pretend to be a prospective student
Wander around campus and pretend you are still in high school. Tell random people about your accomplishments in band and choir, and tell the admissions counselors about your AP scores. Feel free to make some of them up. Take a tour and spoil the fake facts tour guides tell prospective students. Remember why you decided to come to Brandeis in the first place.

9. Sleep
Because I know that you’ve heard this before, I will simply remind you that trying to work through exhaustion wastes more time than it would take to give your body and mind what it needs with a few hours of shut eye. Work takes longer to do when you’re tired. Sleep deprivation will make it even harder to come up with work that you’re proud of.

10. Do something that you love
It may feel like you don’t have time to do anything simply for fun, but setting aside time to do something that you love can be an important part of staying happy and sane in times of serious stress. Pick something that you’ve always wanted to do, but have never gotten around to.
Join the Juggling Club, sing with the gospel choir or attend a figure-drawing class.

Creativity, escape and distraction are the keys to preventing stress from finals. Try these tips and see. They are far better for you than eating too much and sleeping too little.