Guest Blog by: Justine Harrington, SPI Study Abroad | High School Language Immersion & Global Leadership
Ah, the stress of college admissions time. Filling out applications, writing essays, visiting colleges, and then waiting (ugh!) for acceptance letters all take an incredibly massive toll on the physical and emotional health of college-bound students. But, it is possible to combat the stressful effects of the process – simply take some time to try a few of these useful de-stressing techniques, and get ready to feel your applications-oriented worries slip away:
Top 10 Ways to De-Stress During the College Admissions Process:
Spend Time with Friends: Soon, catching up with friends from your graduating class will likely happen more often via Facebook instead of in a booth at a local pizza joint. So, while you have it, make the most of the time you have now with friends! Spending time with people who really care about you will really help to reduce the level of stress in your life – make memories with those who are closest to you now, so that you’re able to carry those memories along with you to college.
Carve Out Time for Family: During the college admissions process, it’s true that family members can be a source of stress and pressure. But, it’s so important to try and separate Mom-who-nags-about-applications from Mom-who-loves-shopping-with-me by planning special times together where talking about college is strictly forbidden. Chances are your parents are feeling as anxious about the entire process as you are, so it can be super beneficial to re-discover things you enjoy doing together.
Be Mindful: Mindfulness and meditation are the two tried-and-true proven pathways to relaxation. Whether you choose to pray, read, journal, meditate, or chant, reconnecting with your spirituality and inner calmness can really reduce tension and provide some much-needed clarity.
Move: Sweat out your nervous energy by lifting, running, or whatever gets your heart pumping! Not much of an exercise enthusiast? Even taking a ten minute walk during the day can reduce levels of stress. Better yet, practice some stretching, yoga, or deep breathing for added relaxation…no sweating involved.
Chow Down: Indulging in your favorite snack or tasting a tempting treat can certainly improve your mood – but, don’t overdo it! Continual over-eating or consuming large quantities of food that are heavy in fat or sugar can increase anxiety or depression. Eating a healthy variety of fruits, veggies, and lean sources of protein can help to decrease stress, and increase energy – all of which will come in handy when it comes to tackling that stack of applications sitting on your Mom’s desk.
Smart Schedule: The arduous process of applying to colleges only naturally increases your workload. And, if you’re already involved in playing sports, leading clubs, or planning for summer camp, you may feel crunched for time – which is probably bound to add to your anxiety. This is why it can be so important to consider scheduling “down days” on your calendar – days on which you have no responsibilities. Also, think about allowing yourself several days in between college visits; use that time to reflect on your visit with a parent or counselor about questions you may have, or observations you made.
Create: Creating anything can be such a soothing, cathartic activity. Whether you knit, write, build, paint, or draw, creating something from start to finish helps you feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. If you’re not the crafty type, consider just sitting down to color – grab your box of 64 Crayolas and get to work! Coloring is an activity proven to reduce stress and calm anxiety.
Daydream: When the stress of life gets to be too much, why not take ten minutes to daydream? Letting your mind wander allows you to momentarily detach from the strain of day-to-day responsibilities. Taking a brief break will give you the energy you need to dive back in to reality.
Turn It Off: Whatever “it” is, power that device down and turn it off. Endless online searching and time spent in front of the screen leads to increased stress, loss of sleep, and (in some cases) depression. Set aside time each day where you’re just not connected – no phone, no computer, and no iPad. The best time to power down is right before bed; studies show that getting away from a screen at least an hour before bedtime will really help to improve sleep.
Snooze: It’s a well-known fact that teenagers do not get the amount of sleep they need – and lack of sleep can affect everything from relationships, to test scores, to…yes, the college application process. Getting the proper amount of sleep fuels your body and prepares it for the physical and emotional demands of each day.
About the Author: Justine is an equal parts travel junkie, intercultural education advocate, yoga-loving foodie, and writer. She’s also the Admissions Director for SPI Study Abroad, a leading provider of language immersion and global leadership programs for high school students, and is the main contributor for the SPI Blog. When not leading programs in France, you can find Justine on her yoga mat, exploring new restaurants in her neighborhood in Austin, or on Twitter at @Justine_Travels and at http://www.spiabroad.com