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MIT student blogger Rachel F. '12

Stress Management @ The MITstitvte by Rachel F. '12

What's a student to do when school gets rough?

A couple of days before a physics test, my friend Chacha’14 posted on Facebook asking how to deal with stress, and got a massive influx of suggestions. This is by no means a complete enumeration of activities that MIT students do to manage stress, so enjoy the brief lapse into generalizability.

  1. Inhale for 6 counts, hold for 6 counts, exhale for 6 counts, repeat.
  2. Take some free time, even when you feel like you can’t afford it.
  3. Time management.
  4. Watch some funny videos.
  5. Play dress-up.
  6. Yoga.
  7. Commune with your deity/ies.
  8. Commune with your friends.
  9. Blast music. (or make music!)

    The anonymous personage on the right did not wish to reveal his face to the interwebs.
    I have replaced it with that of the guitarist’s intrepid rainbow conure, Faraday.
  10. Doodle.
  11. Run around like a crazy person. Climb trees. Race down the hallway. Go outside and feel the cold for 30 seconds.

    photo cred: Ana Lyons ’12
  12. Take the pistol PE class.
  13. When you’re too tired to work, but have to work, take a 15-30 minute, 90-120 minute, or multiple of 90-120 minute nap — whatever leaves you feeling the most refreshed. (Pro tip for recovering from sleep schedule hacks and/or insomnia: take a walk outside on a sunny morning to help reset your circadian rhythm.)
  14. Make and/or eat something delicious.
  15. Whenever nice small things happen, enjoy them.
  16. Look at pictures (or videos) of adorable animals.
  17. Nuzzle a cat’s fuzzy tummy.
  18. Take at least one class every term that you absolutely love.
  19. Don’t overwork yourself for A’s that aren’t worth it. (Sorry, premeds.)
  20. Remember that everyone else is just as confused as you are.

24 responses to “Stress Management @ The MITstitvte”

  1. Greg P (15?) says:

    Hahaha! I enjoy this quite a lot! I’m going to steal a few of these and apply them to senior year in high school.

  2. SR '15 says:

    I absolutely LOVE this post, especially the dress-up game! Those are all very helpful tips smile

    Do you have a tumblr too??

  3. Oh procrastination, how I love you.
    Dear my beloved homework, I am
    Never gonna give you up,
    Never gonna let you down,
    Never gonna run around and desert you.
    Indeed, I am
    Never gonna make you cry,
    Never gonna say goodbye,
    Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.

  4. Yes this is so true! I follow most of these tips and I have seen good results!

  5. Banerjee says:

    Hahaha, really well said, Rachel! You know, the best thing about this blog is that it applies to everyone in any difficult situation 8) And, not to mention, it was a pretty funny read!

  6. Chacha says:

    Dude! Rachel, so honored to have been mentioned in a post! And I really like the links you included! Quite a bit more fun to read this than the 20 some comments on my facebook status! raspberry Great job!

  7. Gaurav says:

    These all points, feels so much mine! ☺

  8. AnotherNoob says:

    Do MIT dudes really lie semi-naked on the snow like that? o.O


  9. Kaul says:

    What’s with MIT and cats?
    Not that I mind. Cats are cute! Go, cats!

  10. Even in darn weather and overload of work, I share some advices with Rachel like communing with God and eating delicious food. But personally for me, I’ve found 2 things extremely stress-reducing: the first being chocolate milk. Seriously, having either a cold choco-milk or some hot chocolate can really make you feel comfortable, relaxed and even more focused.

    Secondly, I’d have to say electronic music. I never happened to even believe in the electronic beats working their magic against stress, until I tried the remedy myself. It was a night where I had tests with one big homework coming up and all I had was 6 hours to get them all sorted (normall they would take about 10, the tests were mid-terms actually and counted a lot). Despite all the panic, since I had to use the Internet for some research work, I happen to open YouTube side-by-side, and I came across the music of Justice. Even though the guys have only done 1 album so far, their music is a big “whoa”.
    Here’s one their best hits from the album
    also this one is worth seeing (its another of their songs mashed-up for a video game mix)

    Other artists for me include DJ Shadow, Daft Punk, Amon Tobin, deadmau5, and Eric Prydz, go give these guys’ music a check and see for yourself.


    P.S — Music removes any kinds of stress, including the one for decisions. So good luck to all of us.

  11. It’s funny how I’ve used all of the tips for stress management during my junior and current senior years at high school. My school has a pretty heavy and crazy workload (considering I have a unit test, research paper, math project, and English homework due within the next 36 hours -.-‘), so I’ve gotten used to the sleepless nights and planned procrastination.

    Add dancing to the list. Any type of dancing works wonders on reducing stress levels. =] And I love #12 (random thought).

  12. Natalie says:

    I happen to agree with Murtaza: music is one of the greatest stress relievers. Techno and trance music have a great rhythm to work to, I find that I am most productive while blasting deadmau5 and others (helps the most when writing long boring papers or when programming ^.^). Classical music with a fast rhythm can also be very uplifting. Hosting a random dance party with yourself is also just a brilliant idea :D

    Another effective stress reducer is exercise. I always complain that time is of the essence and that I can’t spare half an hour for a jog or bike ride. However, I find that I am considerably more productive after exercising. Running even 20-40 minutes a day helps me recharge and is a great study break. Actually, most of my ideas for essays and debates are generated while running (I feel like I think much faster when active).

    And cats are just the best smile

  13. Alex S says:

    The ‘some’ on the watch funny videos part was hilarious! Guess that’s why I’m a dog person! Add to the mix and you will never be stressed.

  14. Shahriar says:

    Agree with Murtaza and Natalie, music has done me wonders in reducing stress , and I’ve almost exclusively used music as a stress reliever…..techno and trance music are great, but when I have to do major calculations that require quite a lot of thought, I find the best way is to sit in a dark room listening to Beethoven , Mozart , etc. etc…….I don’t know if I’m crazy but when these sort of music play I find myself being able to sort of “see” the mathematics involved in problem solving dancing before my eyes :S , and I end up solving the whole thing mentally …… yeah , music rocks !

  15. Anonymous says:

    lol @ usage of pro tip
    it was… pro

  16. thethinker says:

    Nice post! :D

    I’d like to add to adorable animal pics/videos:

  17. A.D. says:

    nice post!!!

  18. As Shariar here said where a touch of calmness is required sometimes in music to think, it reminds me of DJ Shadow, he’s a hip-hop DJ but he did an album called “Endtroducing…” which was created entirely out of samples. This includes one of the best songs ever here check it out
    also these songs are worth mentioning

  19. Bernie says:

    some of those responses might be adequate alternatives. but i dont think they answer the problem. say your stressed because you have too many assignments due and somehow need to squeeze ten hours from seven hours. or a big game coming up and youre playing the best team. different stress requires different “medicine”. cute pictures arent going to help those situations. identifying the stress creates a problem and these problems are solved by independent answers. think about where your stress is coming from. if its a situation where nothing could have been done, it would be silly to stress about it. if it is within your control…think about how far youve come and why you are doing what you are doing. failing once doesnt mean its an absolute failure . take your mistakes or things youve noticed and re-apply yourself to whichever process was the derivation of ur stress.

  20. sam says:

    rachel, i freakin love 갈비

  21. rfong'12 says:

    um sam your hangul and i are having some communication issues :'(

  22. rfong'12 says:

    @Bernie: haha technically true, although study breaks boost work efficiency when used in moderation. also, as nice as it would be to eradicate stress through pure rationalization, it’s not always possible.

  23. Moshe Sharon says:

    The word “Stress” actually relates to wear and tear as when the rubber meets the road on a tire or the brake pads pressing up against the rotor in the wheel. The term as it applies to living organisms was first introduced by Hans Seyle in the 1930’s who defined it as the consequence of the failure of an organism (human or animal) to respond appropriately to emotional or physical threats, whether actual or imagined. Thus stress symptoms are the manifestation of a chronic state of responses to stress triggers that are actually benign. Even a thought can set off the same response mechanism that would be in play while standing in front of a hungry lion. Hence, Seyle’s definition still reaches to the heart of stress management; the idea of the response being inappropriate and engaging in a process of altering ones misperception of pending disaster or imminent danger.

  24. rfong'12 says:

    @Moshe: You have my utmost gratitude. I shall henceforth take great care in elaborating the precise definition intended by any colloquial or modern English terminology I include in written material in the future.

    To draw attention to a similar phenomenon, allergies are also a wholly inappropriate response to benign triggers.