Wellness 101 with Annie Kim: Staying Stress Free. Six Ways to Keep You Happy and Smiling.

By Annie Kim

As college students, our busy schedules constantly keep us on-the-go. Our weekdays are spread among classes, work, study sessions, club events, volunteer work, research, games, hanging out with buddies and this list could go on forever. Somewhere among our hectic schedule we throw in a few hours of sleep.

We are at the golden age where the energy of youth is pumping through our veins and we just keep going through our routine, tackling everything from one day to the next. As midterm and final season arrives, so do countless essays, tedious labs and other responsibilities. Soon, our daily coffee doesn’t seem to do the job, we start yearning for our warm beds as we go about our days as our usual energetic, youthful selves drown in a pool of stress and a pile of work. Trust me, I feel your pain.

A stressed-out you will never lead to any good. Therefore, this week, my health column will give you tips on how to unwind knots and de-stress, which will ultimately lead to a happier you!

The dynamic duo: Smile and Laughter. We all have heard the phrase, “Laughter is the best medicine.” This sentence rings true.  Laughter and smiling are sidekicks, they go hand-in-hand. The two are great stress zappers,  releasing those wonderful endorphins throughout our bodies which provides us those good feelings. Don’t hesitate to tell a cheesy knock-knock joke, laugh at a silly remark or smile at the person next to you as you wait to cross the street at the traffic light. A happy you is a healthy you.

Don’t act your age. We’re in college, which means we’re considered to be adults. Big deal! Who says you have to act your age? Do what makes you happy. If you want to watch Saturday morning cartoons, do it! Trust me, watching “Tom and Jerry” go after each other will definitely boost your endorphins! Grab a group of friends and hit the playground with a game of freeze tag or better yet, just fool around in the playground! Play dress-up with your girlfriends. Grab a buddy and be a Power Ranger for a day, saving the world by killing off one bad guy at a time! Go build a sandcastle. Laugh hysterically! Be, act, think like a kid, it’ll do wonders.

Be spontaneous! A couple of weeks ago, my roommates and I had a dinner outing. Afterwards, we decided to walk along the beach to enjoy the sunset. With us being girls, we were all dressed up with our hair and makeup done. As we approached the brink of the ocean, I could hear the waves crash and smell the fresh salty air take over my senses. Something about the ocean has a powerful hold on me. When I’m near it, I just want to feel the ocean’s dominant waves surround my body and soak my hair, as slippery seaweed swishes beneath me, starting an inevitable tangle battle with my toes. That day, the ocean water seemed to have retained the heated temperature from the sun perfectly. I couldn’t help myself. I ran and jumped into the arms of the serene ocean waves with my clothes, makeup, jewelry and everything in my pockets. Shortly after, my roommates followed me. We played in the water for quite some time. It was one of the best nights I had in a while. Some of the best experiences come out of pure spontaneity which will definitely keep your stress levels low. It works for me all the time!

Exercise every day. Go for a 10-minute run outdoors, blow some steam off by lifting weights at the ARC, go for a swim or simply blast some music and dance! It doesn’t have to be long. I know we’re all busy but don’t forget to make exercise part of your priority. Getting that movement and blood circulating through your body makes a world of difference. Exercise improves your alertness, revives your energy, provides a healthy heart, reduces stress, releases happy endorphins and helps you stay in shape. It’s an all around win-win situation. So grab a buddy, throw on your running shoes and break a sweat!

Hit the snooze button. Getting at least 7 hours of sleep is essential to your health. A sufficient amount of sleep will allow you to think clearly which can help ease your stress levels as a result.

Love. Love with all your heart. Giving and receiving love is the best thing of all about life. Keep your family and friends close. Studies have shown people who keep close relationships with their family and friends are a lot happier and less stressed than people who do not. Find time to grab a drink with a friend. Give your mom and pops a ring. Build up strong social support which will make coping with stress a lot easier. Your happiest moments and greatest experiences are shared with these people. They’re also going to be the ones to help get you out of your steepest ruts. Love will provide you contentment with life, which creates a force far beyond what our human eyes are capable of seeing.