20 ways to peace out when school's got ya down
Before you get out of bed…consider the dreams you had the night before. Try to reconstruct them, ponder what they mean and laugh over silly things you said or did.
During your morning routine…practice mindfulness. Instead of letting your thoughts wander to everything you have to accomplish today, focus instead on the things you’re doing here and now, like the feeling of your toothbrush’s bristles against your gums or the softness of your hair as you brush it out.
In the shower…use scented body washes and hair products that calm your senses. These could be favorite scents, or something more typical, like lavender.
At breakfast…give yourself a chance to play with your food. Cut up fruit to make faces in your cereal, use cookie cutters to shape your toast. The point is to do something that makes you smile and feel like a kid again, even if it’s just for ten minutes in the a.m.
On the bus…pull out your iPod and plug in to a special playlist. Opt for your favorite artists, songs that evoke happy memories or simply tunes that are mellow and soothing.
At your locker…keep things organized. Even when life seems to be out of your control, knowing that you have a space where Y-O-U reigns supreme will give you a measure of confidence.
During homeroom…take a moment and break down your day into manageable tasks, like taking a quiz in history or turning in last night’s homework in chem. Write this list down in your planner so you stop thinking about it, and be sure to periodically pull it out and cross off the items you’ve completed.
In the hallway…Stall freak-outs by concentrating on your breathing as you march toward class. Breathe rhythmically in time with your steps—left foot inhale, right foot pause, left foot exhale, right foot pause, and so on. Slowing down your breathing will get you back in control of your thoughts and keep your mind on something other than an upcoming exam.
In math class…give yourself a pat on the back when you get something right that you’ve been struggling with. Instead of competing with others in your class who might be having an easier time with the material, focus on breaking problems down into their essentials, and solving them. When you do, indulge in a moment of private self-congratulation before you move on to the next problem.
At lunch…eat something that you really, really like. We’re not giving you free rein to scarf down a pile of pizza and fried food. Instead, eat healthfully—you’ll feel better if you do—and treat yourself to one item that you can savor. It could be a piece of fruit you brought from home, a baggy of kettle corn or a cookie. Whatever it is, eat it last and enjoy it.
In between classes…make a detour to a bathroom and run the underside of your wrists under cool water for 30 seconds. Focusing on your pulse points will help you get anxiety under control.
During gym…use your warm-up to ward off stress. Ease into deep stretches, activating all the muscle groups you can. Breathe deeply, and you’ll feel nervous energy taking flight.
During study hall…get lost in a daydream. Let go of all of the restrictions of real life and enjoy a fantasy for 15 minutes. Imagine yourself accepting an Oscar, or going on a first date with the guy you’ve been crushing on forever.
After school…give yourself time to unwind doing something you love. Set aside a half hour when you aren’t thinking about homework, tests, projects—anything that stresses you out. Dive in to a fun activity you can lose yourself in. Setting an alarm on your cell phone will ensure that you don’t go over your allotted free time.
During practice…give yourself a Little Engine That Could-style pep talk. A self-confidence boost could be all that’s separating you from the starting lineup.
At the dinner table…direct conversation toward topics you actually enjoy discussing. If you leave the convo to Mom and Dad, they might decide to drill you on your already stressful day because that’s the first thing that comes to their minds. Take the initiative to incite chatter and you might actually enjoy it. Bonus? It’ll take your mind off of that stressful day.
Two hours before bedtime…stop multi-tasking. Turn off your computer and stow your cell. Multi-tasking can create a feeling of urgency, which winds you up when you should be relaxing.
Before ya hit the hay…grab a journal and scribble down your thoughts about the day, and what’s coming up tomorrow. Writing down the events and emotions that stress you out let’s your mind release them, so you can focus on other things.
When you turn out the lights…close your eyes and focus on relaxing your entire body, bit by bit. Start with your toes, then move up to the arch of your foot, your heel, your ankle. Continue ‘til you get to your head…or fall asleep.
Anytime…laugh it up. The act of laughing boosts your immune system and triggers the secretion of feel-good chemicals in the body. Make a funny face at yourself in the mirror, trade bad jokes with a friend or watch a sitcom.
ALL STAR | Kick some booty this year