If Your Brain’s a Tangled Mess, Read This

The snooze is real, like too real.  I seem to be hitting that button more and more these days, and I’m counting down the hours until Thanksgiving break, maybe even minutes.  Life has felt like 25/7 lately, and I know I’m not the only one feeling stress of the pre-holiday rush to get everything done.  If you feel like there’s not enough time in the day and your brain is totally fried, here are some tips to manage your stress.  (And soon enough, you’ll be eating turkey and pie!)

A clean space means a clean mind

As a kid, I dreaded making my bed.  What’s the point?  I’m just about to get back into it in a while.  And for the majority of high school, if not all of it, I didn’t.  Now that I’m in my own place, I can maybe recall one day I haven’t made my bed.  There’s something about starting the day in order, and a made bed just makes the room feel so much cleaner.  It feels adult, and when I come back home, I don’t feel stressed looking at a crumpled-up bed.

As for the rest of the room, I’m not as persnickety as making my bed, but I try to straighten up fairly often.  Let’s just I’ve come a long way because it wasn’t long ago that I found Cheerios in my bath towel and that a plastic grocery bag of potting soil sat underneath my desk for months.  I’m ashamed and also amused, but it’s true.  My floor isn’t spotless now, but I try to return my makeup brushes and such to their proper places and to organize the things on my desk into piles.

Make lists and set goals

I’m really good at making lists, but once I make it, I usually freak out just a little.  It’s important to identify your objectives but also to triage.  My list is typically ambitious and, therefore, difficult to begin tackling.  Lately, I’ve started with a list, then taken out a piece of paper and divided it into columns for each day.  I write in what I have going that day in terms of obligations and social meet ups, and then I pen in what I’d like to accomplish that day.  Do I hold to this perfectly?  I wish, but at least it’s a place to begin.

End the day with reading, not screen time

Sleep is vital in stress, and scrolling through your email right before bed isn’t helping you.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, using screens before bed “delays your body’s internal clock (a.k.a., your circadian rhythm), suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and makes it more difficult to fall asleep.”

Instead, browse a magazine or read a chapter in a book — not on your Kindle.  If time allows, light a candle, rub some lotion on your hands and put on a face mask to wind down from the evening.  Maybe listen to some relaxing music.  I like the Stress Relief playlist on Spotify.  Even if it’s just for 10 minutes, you’re giving yourself some “you time” as a treat for working hard that day, and you’ll sleep better, too.

Prioritize your physical and social health

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you say.  You’ve heard this one a million times, yet you still don’t do it.  (So I’ll say it again!)  Getting work done is important, but if you fall apart at the end of the day and are stressed all the time, what are you really gaining?  I still make it a priority to work out several times a week as well as meet up with friends.  I’ve found that sitting in my room for five hours is just as productive as three hours with a workout and coffee date to break up the day.  We need to take care of our bodies, and we need other people.  Overworking ourselves isn’t worth it if it leads to gaining excessive weight and losing our friends.

Remind yourself of what’s ahead

For me, it’s a week off and a trip to Europe this winter.  These are my motivators when I’d rather crumple my to-do list and aim for the trashcan (even though it probably wouldn’t make it in).  For you, it might just be fun weekend plans or lack thereof.  Having something to look forward to can help you power through.

Last but not least, take a deep breath.  This too shall pass, and this isn’t the first time you’ve been stressed out.  You’ve survived thus far, and you will carry on.  Take heart — the holidays are near!

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