Singing, dancing, dessert: ways to keep stress in check

UIC student blogger Lauren Muellner

“I let myself get stressed out too much. It’s something I am constantly trying to change,” says blogger Lauren Muellner.

By Lauren Muellner

Five bloggers share their experiences about what it’s like to be UIC students. Read a new update every weekday.

I am at that point in the semester when I have to throw my hands in the air and wave ’em like I just don’t care.

I admit that I let myself get stressed out too much. It’s something I am constantly trying to change.

Let me begin by explaining my undergraduate program. I went to Columbia College Chicago and I majored in theatre. Now, I’m not saying that I didn’t have a ton of work to do and was never stressed out. But the work was a very different type of work than I have now. I went to class and worked on acting techniques, I read plays, memorized lines, performed and worked on improv games.

So, how can I handle my stress now when I have a gazillion articles to read, 20-page research papers to write, observations hours to fill, presentations to work on, and projects to do while I am working two jobs?

The first thing that I have to do is figure out how to make the time to do the things that keep me grounded. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. I joke with my friends and say, “If I had no job, no boyfriend and no friends…sure, I could get all my work done!” The sad part is, it’s kind of true.

Here are some things that I am trying to make time for to bring me back to earth, and maybe it’ll help you, too!

Dance. I love to dance. It is something that allows me to totally let go. Maybe it’s just for that one moment or that one song, but it’s a release, nonetheless. Sometimes, I will dance like a fool just to make my friends laugh and see other people’s reactions. If I can laugh at myself, I can be reminded that life shouldn’t be so serious all the time.

Eat dessert. Who doesn’t love dessert? Everyone who knows me knows I love my dessert. But maybe sweets aren’t your thing. Whatever it is, yummy chocolate cake or delicious salty potato chips, once in a while, just indulge.

Exercise. I know that I have to exercise after eating a whole chocolate cake. So, I have a gym membership. It is just a matter of making time and getting yourself pumped! Play a sport or go walking with music that gets you motivated.

Be creative. Something that always works to relieve my stress is art. I love painting. It’s something I can do while I listen to my favorite music and it allows me to tune everything else out. Devoting yourself to a blank canvas and creating absolutely anything you want, can give you a little push when you look at the finished product. It makes you think, “Wow! What else can I do?”

Sing. Sometimes you just need to sing like you’re on “American Idol.” Go for it! I love singing in the car. I stopped caring what other people think and will sing at the top of my lungs.

Have your girl or guy time. It’s hard getting a group of friends together these days. Everyone has their own schedules and obligations to deal with. But once in a while, you need to make the time. Go to dinner or watch a movie.

Laugh….And always remember to appreciate the small things.

• Lauren Muellner is a graduate student in early childhood education

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