Ways to Decrease Stress Levels


By Rachel Back, SCS Advising Leader: 

We’re about a fourth of the way through this semester, and at this point, it’s really easy to neglect your mental health in order to prioritize your schoolwork and any other responsibilities you have. This is problematic because it can quickly spiral into more serious health complications. According to Yale Medicine, symptoms of chronic stress include aches and pains, insomnia, changes in social behavior, low energy, unfocused thinking, changes in appetite, and emotional withdrawal. Furthermore, your brain releases more cortisol, a stress hormone that plays vital roles in your body. While cortisol is important in regulating things like blood pressure, blood sugar, and your circadian rhythm, a production of too much is harmful. Mental health isn’t something that should be taken lightly, so please reach out for professional help if you need it.

Here are some ways you can help take care of your mental health:

1. Spend time with your loved ones. Spending time with those you cherish is a great way to refresh yourself. Not only will they help reduce your stress, but they also help prevent isolation and loneliness by increasing your sense of belonging and purpose. This will boost your overall happiness. Bonus: If you are feeling very stressed, talk to someone you trust. Even if they’re just there to listen, ranting about your feelings and problems will help release some of the weight on your shoulders and help you see things in a different perspective.

2. Stay active and eat well. Physical and mental health are closely related to each other. According to a study from the University of Otago, getting a good night’s rest, exercising, and eating healthy foods positively impact your mental health and overall well-being. I highly recommend keeping bags of frozen vegetables in your freezer to throw into your meals whenever you cook. Unlike fresh vegetables, frozen vegetables can be kept in your freezer for months and are budget friendly. As a plus, they also retain nutrients much longer than fresh vegetables.

3. Get a good night’s sleep. I know this sounds unrealistic but getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep will help you think clearly and be more alert. Your brain activity changes depending on which sleep stage you are in. Each of these stages play a role in your overall health, so it’s important to get an adequate amount of sleep to ensure you are able to go through all of them.

4. Use on campus resources. There are many resources and organizations available to the students at UIUC. One example is the McKinley Heath Center, which has a mental health program. They are able to provide a few sessions of psychotherapy, and the professionals include psychiatry, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers. They are available from 8 am to 4 pm on weekdays.

Here’s the link to their website: https://mckinley.illinois.edu/medical-services/mental-health