Decrease stress and stay healthy during finals week

    ith less than a week to go before finals, nearly everyone can relate to the anxiety that accompanies this hectic week. Studying and stress, not to mention lack of sleep, can really push a student to the edge, regardless of the fact that all of this tension and worrying is actually counterproductive. Staying healthy and stress-free while studying can be the key to success during finals week.

    There are many ways to relax by giving your mind a rest and your body a workout during finals. You can only sit still and study for so long before you start to burn out, so it’s important not to neglect your body and to allow yourself time to be active in ways that you enjoy. Play some soccer with some buddies, ride a bike, go for a jog: engage in some kind of physical activity in order to reenergize yourself.

    Be sure to give yourself at least five minutes of exercise time. When used effectively, these few minutes can refresh you more than you might think. For these five minutes, simply breathe. Sit cross-legged and relax your back and neck or lie down flat on the ground. Here’s a tip: Breathe in slowly for the count of four; hold that breath for two counts. Now exhale, counting to four again. Wait another two counts before you begin your next inhale. By concentrating on breathing deeply, slowly and evenly, the rest of your body is able to relax.

    UCSD’s recreation programs offer a number of classes geared toward health and wellness, including yoga, meditation and massage therapy. Practices like these have been around for many years. Originally used to communicate with the divine, today they have become increasingly common ways to center yourself and free your mind from outside distractions.

    Although most of these classes wrap up during ninth week, a few continue into the week before finals. Find one that you think you might be interested in and stop by for one of the sessions. Most instructors would be happy to have you watch a class,, or even sit in. However, like all activities, the longer you participate in one of these classes, the better you will get and the more effective the exercise will become. The spring guide to recreation classes is out, so sign up for classes now to get a head start on the decompression process for next quarter. Remember, some classes fill up quickly, so register as soon as you can.

    UCSD Recreation offers many health and wellness classes, including yoga.

    Dating back to 1500 B.C., yoga originated by way of Hinduism. Yoga as we know it today has undergone a tremendous popularity boom in the past ten years. Nowadays, yoga is used as a way to improve balance and concentration, and to relieve stress, as well as a method to maintain both physical and spiritual well-being.

    Ashtanga yoga instructor Jeff Imperato, who has been teaching yoga at UCSD for four years, knows the benefits of this ancient practice.

    “The mental benefits are at least as, if not more important, than the physical benefits,” said Imperato.

    According to Imperato, yoga leads to an increased lung capacity, stronger and more flexible muscles, quicker recovery time from injuries, increased patience and focus on goals, and a greater ability to relax, even in stressful situations.

    UCSD’s recreation department offers almost 20 different sessions and four different disciplines of yoga (Ashtanga, Hatha, Iyengar and Kundalini), all of which emphasize different aspects of the practice.

    Meditation, which, like yoga, also originated in the East in countries like India, China and Japan, has also become an exceedingly common practice in Western life. Meditation seeks to offer enlightenment and serenity through relaxation by means of breathing and concentration. The benefits of meditation are more abundant than one might think. Meditation lowers the heart and respiratory rate, and promotes lower blood pressure and less muscle tension.

    “Intro to Meditation” and “Mind/Body Techniques for Lifestyle Change” are two recreation department classes offered through UCSD. There are also various workshops offered all over campus throughout the year.

    A practice derived from ancient Mediterranean civilizations, massage therapy is manual soft tissue manipulation of another by applying pressure in order to positively affect their well-being. When applied correctly, massage therapy can increase the oxygen capacity of the blood and both stimulate and loosen muscles according to the need of the individual. In addition, massage also relieves stress.

    The UCSD recreation department offers classes to teach how to give and receive a massage. A variety of private massages are offered through the Student Wellness Program and vary in price.

    These practices, if utilized throughout the quarter, are excellent ways to maintain a positive mental well-being by relaxing the mind and working the body. But even if these classes aren’t for you, you can find ways to relax on your own.

    “Set aside time to do things you really enjoy, especially physically. Ultimately, it’s not lost time, because these practices give back energy,” Imperato said.

    Take time to breathe and to relax. Allow yourself to let go and have fun. Realize that studying non-stop is not the best way to do well on exams.

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