Feelin' Blue
March 13, 2007 6:06 AM   Subscribe

I don't know if this is a seasonal funk, or just an exhausted one, but I could use a few new ideas on how to escape it.

This isn't really depression (trust me, I know the difference)...it's more of a stressed-out, emotionally drained, exhausted funk. Lately I haven't been able to get out of this mindset, and its starting to take a toll on my relationship and my friendships.

I have a list of things that I normally do to stave off this state, but I've lately found myself with no more than an hour or two of free time a week (I'm a college student...and the semester just picked up big time), which isn't enough time to do a good chunk of those stress-relieving activities (i.e. painting, napping, writing, attacking a punching bag, going to the gym).

Basically I'm looking for suggestions of other de-stressing techniques I could try...ones that aren't time consuming and don't require the consumption of large quantities of chocolate (a definite temptation right now).

posted by azriel2257 to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
You might try taking more time for yourself, regardless. Don't sacrifice good sleep, even if it means that you don't get every last thing completely done. Avoid perfectionism. Remember the 80/20 rule and that you might well work more efficiently if you're happier and well rested.
posted by DarkForest at 6:25 AM on March 13, 2007

I'm a huge fan of Impromptu Ten-Minute Dance Party. In a moment when you are alone and don't know what to do, or are avoiding something, or feel depressed, simply turn on whatever loud music may be handy and then shake. that. ass.

Seriously. The louder the music and the more frantic and ridiculous the dancing, the better you will feel. After a couple of songs have gone by you will feel exhausted and silly and, well, better. I know it's good therapy because after several minutes of doing it I get impressed with myself and think, wow, I'm a really a pretty good dancer! Which really is downright delusional.

If you haven't tried this within a few moments of reading this comment, you may be a lost cause... that is, if you're home and not in a library or at work or something. Impromptu Ten-Minute Dance Party!
posted by hermitosis at 6:34 AM on March 13, 2007 [28 favorites]

Agreed with the "taking more time for self." I'm currently preparing for my Ph.D. oral exam (big pre-dissertation-writing hurdle). I was recently told that I had two weeks to do what I thought I had five weeks for, but I've been able to get things done in that time, and I'm right on schedule for finishing in those two weeks. The one thing that's kept my sanity is that I've carved away pieces of time to do whatever. I sleep eight hours per night and spend bits of time reading (novels, not academic papers), watching Arrested Development DVDs, and running. I'm not cycling for two hours each day as I'd like to be, but I'm still taking care of myself first.

I've been watching other grad students in my department that have been working 8 am to 1 am everyday because they think everything needs to be done and perfectly, and it's obvious. The cracks are starting to show, and people are surly and snappy. You can't live like that!

Identify the work that's less important: response papers, things like that, things that just get a "completed" grade. Your professor or TA has better things to do than care about that little assignment, and you sure as hell aren't going to blow them away and make them say "WOW! this should be a published paper!" Not going to happen. Just do it so it's done, and focus on more important things, like your term papers and exam prep. For those, focus on ways to make studying more efficient. A little bit of forethought and planning for studying will make a ton of difference.

While doing that, take an hour each day and go to the gym. Just be productive and diligent in the time that you are working on your school work. And that time in which you're destressing will make all of your work time N times more productive.
posted by The Michael The at 6:41 AM on March 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Take a b-complex vitamin once a day. It tends to reduce stress. Works like a charm for me.

If you do take it, be aware it can make your pee bright yellow.

posted by milarepa at 7:12 AM on March 13, 2007

Take a walk. If you can't fit it in, walk somewhere you normally drive. Walk in sunshine if possible.
posted by DU at 7:16 AM on March 13, 2007

If you can scrape together the funds for a one-hour massage every couple of weeks I've found that they're worth the expense. It's a great way to force yourself to be completely still and give your mind a rest, and you'll carry that relaxed and happy feeling with you as you walk back into the chaos of your busy college life. If you don't have the money for a massage, find a friend who wants to trade 15-minute or 1/2-hour back rubs a couple times a week. If there's a massage school in your area, there are often students looking for volunteers so that they can accumulate hours towards their license/degree (not sure which applies). Good luck - "this too shall pass"!
posted by man on the run at 7:36 AM on March 13, 2007

I was feeling so much stress a couple of years ago I had this constant pain in my chest. I searched online for a way to reduce it and got into Tai Chi. 10 minutes a day worked wonders for me and the pain went away. I believe I started with one of Scott Cole's beginner dvds and have tried to progress to the real thing but I can't find the time or the space to do it properly - but I always can find 10 minutes a day to do this basic workout and that keeps the stress at bay for me.
posted by any major dude at 7:47 AM on March 13, 2007

I feel your pain. It's that time of the semester.

Make yourself a good breakfast. Not only do you get a good meal, and a good start to your day out of it, but it also forces you to just focus on cooking, and not what's stressing you out.
posted by benign at 8:07 AM on March 13, 2007

Try some zazen?
posted by koudelka at 8:27 AM on March 13, 2007

In general, making a cup of tea for yourself is a pleasant ritual with the handy potential side-effect of caffiene and herbal stimulation.

Buy a kind of tea that sounds good to you. Find a fancy teacup and saucer and spoon just for your tea. You can find lots of fun old items at the thrift store.

Between two different activities or when you don't know what to do, make tea. Sit with it and sip it; avoid reading or watching anything while you do this. Try and let all outside influences fade from your mind. If you must read while you have your tea, keep a special book designated as the book you look at while you drink tea, preferably an art or comics collection that you have bought just for this purpose. Try to avoid bringing snacks into your ritual, because over time the snacks will take over and the tea will fall by the wayside.

Your tea ritual becomes a ten-minute intermission which should leave you refreshed and alert. It's an opportunity to give yourself something incredibly helpful.
posted by hermitosis at 9:02 AM on March 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

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