April is Stress Awareness Month, so with the end of the semester looming, it’s fitting for students to learn healthy coping skills. Common sense dictates most of the do’s and don’ts, but when was the last time you saw a stressed out student with common sense?
Why are students stressed to the max? We procrastinate. Eat and drink too much of the wrong things. Worship caffeine. Take drugs we know we shouldn’t. Chew our finger nails to the nubs. Twirl our hair until it yanks free. Binge on Netflix. Yada. Yada. Yada

But seriously, take some time to reacquaint yourself with the “official, for sure” do’s and don’ts.

• Get enough sleep. Students need 8 hours a night. Sleep allows the brain to rest and recharge—and process information.
• Take a nap. Can’t get those solid eight hours? Brain experts suggest either a 20-minute power nap or 90-minutes of uninterrupted sleep. No more, no less to avoid screwing with our natural sleep patterns.
• Eat smart. The saying “you are what you eat” couldn’t be any truer. What you eat directly affects ✔your brain and mood.
• Exercise. Get some fresh air. Exercise reduces stress by increasing endorphins in the brain.
• Exercise also enhances mood and improves our ability to sleep. Walk. Take the stairs. Shoot some baskets. Run. Just move.
• Avoid artificial energy boosters. “Energy drinks” may give you a brief surge, but artificial means fake, unnatural. The brain needs rest to properly function. Turn to naps instead of fake stimulants.
• Get emotional support. Good relationships reduce stress and talking about our problems helps us feel better. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

• Don’t Cram. Don’t overextend yourself. Take small breaks to give your brain time to process information.
• Don’t overindulge in junk food. What you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain and your mood. Healthy foods make for healthy brains.
• Don’t procrastinate. Procrastination adds to stress and overloading. Eliminate distractions that get you off track: phones, friends, games, helicopter parents.
• Don’t use alcohol or drugs to deal with stress. Remember those ads: this is what your brain looks like on drugs. Add alcohol to the scenario. Be smart.

For additional tips on coping with stress, contact the counseling center, 504.520.7315, send an email to counseling@xula. edu, or drop by the center in the St. Joseph Academic and Learning Center next to the UC.

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