Stress Busters: UM Edition

Autumn has arrived. The colors of nature are shifting from summer greens to autumn’s yellowish hues. The sun sets a little earlier every day, making the nights last longer.  While the calendar year is nearing its end, the academic year has just begun. Students are hitting their stride and move forward with more efficiency and productivity as each week passes. Each week, however, brings with it more work, additional deadlines and more stress. It is important that students know how to manage these day-to-day stresses that can often define much of the college experience. Luckily, there are so many simple and easy ways to tame stress. Read on to find some inspiration on how to rejuvenate, Missoula style.


Brunch It On!

Humans are social animals and taking time to foster close friendships is a fantastic way to reduce stress. While any effort to tone down the stress can be made social, gathering around a table to share a meal and some conversation is a fundamentally human way to relax and connect with friends. Starting the day off with a meal and a side of conversation, and laughter will do wonders for your mood, your stress levels and your friendships. If you want to maximize the experience, make an event of it and have brunch. Brunch is that special meal with no clearly defined start or end time … it just happens when it happens.

Missoula Tip: When it comes to brunch, Missoula is a city full to the brim with possibilities. One can head to the downtown hip strip, hit up locations up and down Brooks or make a trip to Reserve Street and choose among a wide variety of delicious spots that serve everything from heaping portions of chicken and waffles to delicate plates of lox and toast. A few of the many options are Paul’s Pancake Parlor, Catalyst Cafe, Sean Kelly’s Stone of Accord, The Shack, The Hob Nob, Tamarack Brewing, Caffe Dolce … you get the idea.


Get Moving

Surprise! Exercise made a list of things that are good for you! We hear this advice repeatedly, but it’s very easy to ignore in favor of squeezing in another hour of studying. It’s important to push the urge to skip it aside and make exercise as important, if not more, than any assignment. Sitting for hours is bad enough for the mood, but couple that with study session anxiety and the situation can become really unpleasant. Quite frankly, college is temporary, but your health and well-being are with you always.

Missoula Tip: UM tuition includes free access to the Fitness and Recreation Center on campus, so that is a convenient place to start. Winter is coming, however, so sometimes you have to be creative to fit exercise into your daily schedule. Having a few different exercise options planned and at the ready will make it easier to keep the habit going. A 20-minute walk or run is great, but if it’s raining or snowing, it is a great idea to have a 20-minute home workout prepped. Push-ups, jumping jacks and burpees require very little space and can even be done in a dorm room!


Earn a Z+

While we all obsess over the letters A, B, C, D and F the far more important letter to obsess over is Z. Getting your Zzz’s is a huge factor in performing well in all parts of life. Unfortunately, there seems to be a sort of badge of honor associated with pulling an all-nighter. Sleep deprivation, however, is one of the absolute worst things one can do when it comes to stress reduction. No matter how much work you have to do, trying to function on three or four hours of sleep is not healthy.

Missoula Tip: Take advantage of the longer nights by giving yourself an extra hour or two of sleep whenever possible. The best advice is to stick to a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep a night, but if you can’t make that happen, sleep in on Saturday or Sunday morning and refill your battery.


Just Breathe

Let’s say you’ve read through this entire post with totally incredulity because you can’t imagine taking any time away from your 21 credit class load to eat, drink OR be merry. That’s understandable, but you still need to take a minute or two every few hours and relax. Luckily, you have a de-stress mechanism built right in … your breath! If you really think about it, the common theme behind any effort to de-stress is stepping away from your stressor to breathe. So if you absolutely cannot make time for anything else, stop and take a few deep breaths. You’ll feel it working more and more with each inhale.

Missoula Tip: With the exception of some smoky weeks during the summer, Missoula is a prime location for taking a deep breath of truly fresh air. The sights and sounds of the surrounding nature only add to the soothing effects of a deep breath. No matter what the season, stop for a moment, take in the gorgeous view of nature and just breathe.