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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student


COLUMN: A guide to saviors during finals week


With finals knocking on our doors, stress levels have reached an all-time high. Constant stress leads to possibilities of headaches, fatigue and tense shoulders. This can cause one to chug down coffee by the hour and pop Advils to bid goodbye to those gruesome headaches. While this may not seem like a big deal, it can have an adverse effect on us physically, which is why it’s essential to try and get rid of this habit.  

One of the best ways to deal with stress and handle it well is doing things that mentally and physiologically relax the brain. Think of it like this: medicines and caffeine combat the problem we’re suffering with and give us a boost of energy. But picking up a hobby or engaging in something that relaxes our brain and helps manage stress levels does the same job as medication or coffee would do too. Here are some things that help relax the brain and manage stress levels.  


As boring and lame as it may sound, meditation is one of the best ways to relieve stress and restore calmness within yourself. Just taking out 10 minutes from your schedule every day to practice meditation can have tremendous effects on your health and well-being. I for one experimented with meditation during the COVID-19 pandemic, and just 10 minutes of this every morning helped me cope with the stress and uncertainty that time brought with it.  


Yoga helps reduce stress levels by promoting mental and physical relaxation. Practicing yoga releases endorphins, which is a feel-good hormone, and yoga postures also help release physical blockages like muscle knots. Yoga is also considered to reduce cortisol levels, which is the main stress hormone, and have a positive effect on parasympathetic nerve activity, which is what encourages relaxation. I’ve done yoga since the age of 7, and it’s something I would recommend to anyone who’s dealing with immense stress to not just combat that, but also improve mental health and flexibility!  


Exercising releases endorphins, which help manage stress levels. Any form of physical activity, whether that’s playing a sport, taking a walk or dancing, has a positive effect on both mental and physical health. Spending just 30-45 minutes at the Student Recreational Sports Centre or playing with friends can result in mental and physical well-being while controlling and alleviating stress. Working out at the SRSC or swimming is one of my favorite ways to spend the evening with friends on campus. With IU having so many options to choose from, exercising is truly something that can be a fun activity instead of a tedious task that needs to be checked off.  


Painting helps manage stress levels by acting as an emotional release outlet that allows the person to relax and let go of frustrations and anxieties. Acting as a creative outlet, painting helps increase dopamine levels, resulting in the person feeling happier, resulting in lower stress levels. My sister is the one who is a born painter among my family, but there has never been a weekend throughout my life before college that she and I haven’t spent Saturday afternoons with our art supplies spread across the floor while we tried to paint the most ridiculous paintings. Despite my lack of skill, painting helped me take my mind off of things, gave me the outlet I so desperately needed and boosted my overall mood tremendously.  

Doing something as small as this can help reduce stress levels and help maintain overall mental and physical well-being. With finals right around the corner, doing one of these things everyday seems very unrealistic. However, trying to incorporate one of these activities into your schedule once every two or three days can produce noticeable results as well.  

An afternoon painting session at Dunn Meadow on a sunny day, or a quick pickle ball game with your friend can be just the thing you need!  


Pehal Aashish Kothari is a freshman majoring in marketing with a minor in apparel merchandising.  

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