Thought is continuous. And when you’re stressed, those thoughts will continuously berate you. “I have to catch up on that reading; I have to finish that paper; my apartment needs to be cleaned; and oh no! I have a test next Friday!” Students almost always have a long laundry list of assignments, activities and so on. When that’s constantly running through your head, it’s hard not to get a little stressed.
Meditation and other typical thought-easing activities can be hard to get into, especially if you don’t really want to meditate all the time. One of the most basic purposes of meditation is to turn off that guilt-trip list of obligations for a little while. And there are infinite other activities that you can use for that same purpose.
The important thing is to find something that can hold your attention. Creative, hands-on activities seem to work really well. They’re also cool because, for a lot of crafts and such, you can have a tangible result.
It doesn’t have to be scrapbooking either. Pick something that you think is fun. Cooking can even be a creative, meditative experience if you want it to be. Music, art, crafts or do-it-yourself projects could also work. Take a break from studying to spray-paint an old piece of furniture or to make some awesome soup.
It works well for long-term projects also. I used to take study breaks to paint my bedposts. It was a long project, but each part of it was very creative and hands-on. When I worked on it, my head cleared except for the thoughts that moved my hand. It was wonderful because afterwards, I had something really cool to show for my alternative procrastination.
Make sure you don’t get too absorbed in these side projects, though. School should remain the top priority the entire time you’re a student. It helps sometimes to set an alarm for when you have to get back to working. That way, clock-watching doesn’t continually interrupt the fun.
Stress is practically an epidemic of academic life. It’s important to take a little time out of the craziness and do something just for yourself.