The further into your degree you get, the easier it is to deal with stress. Trust me, the work doesn’t get easier, you just get to know yourself more. College is a high stress environment. Between papers, exams, quizzes, presentations, homework assignments, readings, labs, and so much more, students almost always have something to stress about. If you have the time, and you feel that you could benefit from it, there are counselors at Counseling and Health Services at Ellison Campus Center on North Campus, their number is (978) 542 – 6413.
If you just get stressed when you have an exam, and feel that you need some in the moment techniques, I’ve got you covered! Here are a few that could be helpful to you!
- 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
This is a technique that most people with anxiety use when they are having an attack. It is meant to make you realize that you are okay, you are going to be okay, and even if the worst happen you will make it through in one piece. Here’s how you do it. You think of 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch (and touch them!), 2 things you can smell, and then you take one slow, deep breath.
Here’s an example. If you are at Upper North, and you are getting lunch before a practical that starts at 1:30 and you start to get anxious, here are some things you might see, hear, touch, and smell. You could see Burger King, the giant tree outside, a friend, the IDS office, and the microwaves. You could hear the conversation of the group next to you, one of the cashiers ringing someone up, the alarm on the oven at Sandella’s, and chairs being pushed back. You could touch the table, the chair, and perhaps some sort of food item/wrapper/paper plate. You could smell Burger King, and probably something from Sandella’s (I can usually smell the peppers!). Then you take one, long, deep breath. I usually count to five breathing in, hold for three seconds, and count to seven while breathing out.
- Describe Your Surroundings
If you tried step one and that didn’t work too well for you, don’t worry! There are many more ways to calm yourself down. Like describing your surroundings. This is a technique that is used to bring you back to your exact moment. It is also a distraction. You would be surprised how hard it can be! Pick a color, any color, and then try to name everything in the room that is completely that color. When you run out, name items in the room that have some of that color. When you run out, if you are still anxious, pick a new color.
- Describe an Activity
If that doesn’t work, try describing whatever you’re doing. Say you are walking to class with some friends. If you are starting to get anxious, let them know and ask if they’re okay with you trying something that could calm you down. Explain every detail of your walk to class, or explain every detail of a routine activity– like brushing your hair or teeth.
For some people, these don’t work. If you feel that you are feeling anxious often, you should contact Counseling and Health Services. Some people have a Grounding Object, like a small stone or even a piece of jewelry that keeps them in the present.