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The Freshman Condition

Here I sit, 5:30 in the Monday morning, clattering away on my laptop in the Thurston basement accompanied by one other solitary studier who I keep forgetting exists until he startles me by coughing loudly.  My back hurts, my head hurts, my eyes are dry and their lids heavy.  Even my hands seem to ache from the hours of writing and typing– oh god, am I getting carpal tunnel??– as I wonder how I got myself here.  Around 4-ish, ousted from my dorm by a sleep deprived roommate, I made my trek down here, mentally compiling yet another list of what needed to be done to get through the upcoming week: advising appointments, business plan revision and presentation, several readings and posts in various courses, a French oral midterm to prepare for (one which I will be taking in roughly twelve hours now), the new UW essay, econ and math problem sets, and studying for my very last midterm to be taken in seven short days.  I’ve noticed over the last few days that, while I haven’t given any of these things too much thought, their presence has been unequivocal.  I’ve been up until at least four every night this week and during the day I’m fixating on mundane tasks (this evening it was sorting all my spare change into piles according to value).  Stress: it does crazy things to you.  So, figuring that at least half of you are, if not in the same exact boat, then at least in some form of aquatic vessels, I tried to do a little research on the matter, thinking I’d find some magical answer to post.  Unfortunately, everything I found was just common sense or personally impractical.  They ranged from “wearing comfortable clothing”, to meditating, to eating foods rich in certain enzymes or that naturally boost melatonin.  Personally, I try to stick to a routine (brush, floss, wash face, etc.), write extensive lists of anything I can’t get out of my mind (I find it helps with stress and fixation), and pop in the headphones and pull up Netflix (it distracts me and keeps my mind from running in about 80 different directions at once) but lately, this hasn’t seemed to be quite enough.  Proof of fact that I’m sitting down in this somewhat eerie basement at 5:40 completely wired, aching, dizzy, exhausted, and dying to go lay down on my oh-so-soft bed, if only for three hours before I have to wake up and go to class. What works best when one just needs to fall asleep?  Is it yoga and a warm glass of milk as suggested by one article?  Or perhaps reading for thirty minutes in a warmly lit room as proposed by yet another?  Maybe it’s the melatonin pills that friends of mine have been known to take, who knows?  So I pose two questions to you:  Firstly, what do you do when it’s getting late and you need the shut-eye?  Are there any proven methods out there that anyone would like to share?  And secondly, how do you deal with stress?  Do you confront it or mitigate it and which methods seem to work best with either of these approaches?

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. October 24, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Like you, my stress level has been increasing over the past few weeks. It has steadily increased since I got here in August, actually. When I really need to get some sleep I usually just sit in my bed with some reading I have to do for a class and wait until I find myself nodding off with the highlighter in my hand. I know this probably doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s a pretty solid way for me to fall asleep. Unfortunately – and I know this is cliche – having a normal sleep schedule is the best way to fall asleep. I know because I have been there, staying up until 6 doing work and taking small naps throughout the day. It just isn’t practical. I know though that college most of the time doesn’t call for being practical.
    As far as stress goes, I do some weird stuff. I actually do the coin organizing thing about once a week. I also clean my very small dorm room when I have a lot to do, something that doesn’t make sense because it adds to my list of things to do. My rooms pretty messy right now, so does that mean I’m stressed or not? Regardless, dealing with stress in any way you can seems to be a priority in college.

  2. October 25, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    I am not a night person. I have to be productive as I can during the day because staying up late and doing work doesn’t really work for me. Of course, this can be challenging with six classes and two clubs, to finish everything during the day. I set myself on a schedule essentially. During the day when I am not in class I do as much work as possible and I allow myself a break from homework when I go to dinner with my friends. At night if I still have a lot of homework the latest I allow myself to stay up is about 1:30 a.m. I know if I stay up any later I will not function the next day. If I still have important work left to do I may go to sleep but then get up earlier in the morning to continue to work. For me it is just very important to stick to a schedule and not procrastinate. This also helps with stressed. I still do get sufficiently stressed but I also find that list making and prioritizing those items help me a lot. I also find that talking to people helps me. Sometimes just calling up my mom and telling her everything I have to do, makes me feel a little bit better. Stress is a major part of college and freshman year is certainly a test to see how well you can handle that stress.

  3. October 25, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    I also make extensive lists of everything that I have to do, however, even though it helps to get it all out and write it down on paper it always makes me more stressed out to see how long and intimidating the list is! Something I actually do is make up schedules based on my list so that I will be able to foresee how long I will have to stay up each night. Example: 10-10:30am: UW Blog. Unfortunately, this method doesn’t really help because I never actually complete the tasks in the alotted time periods. For some reason making ideal schedules helps calm me down when I’m feeling anxious over the amounts of work I have to do, even if I know it will never play out the way I want it to.
    As for sleep, I haven’t found that to be a problem so far because it is so hard to come by these days. In fact, I’m becoming more worried that I’m developing a mild case of narcolepsy. I am more in need of helpful and healthy ways to stay awake! For me, the actual best way to clear my mind is to go for a run- it is the time when I can be free from my thoughts and just listen to music and breathe the fresh air. When I say run, I really mean pathetically half-jog-half-walk, but it still feels good and I recommend it to everyone!

  4. October 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    I have to say, like aflorio2, one of the few things that helps calm me down is go for a run too. Just three or four miles doesn’t take long and it gives me some comfort in that as long as I’m running there’s nothing I could possibly do in that situation to be anymore productive (unlike watching House on hulu while I’m supposed to be doing an econ problem set in my room). It probably doesn’t hurt that I listen to Harry Potter books on tape while I run either. And once I’m done, I’ve only killed an hour with my warm up/cool down, the actual run, stretching, and post-run calisthenics and I have that nice feeling of accomplishment and a buttload of endorphins ping-ponging around in my brain. After a shower, I usually find I can be much more productive. Too bad this isn’t something I can do at 4:00 in the morning.

  5. October 27, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    I also think that the best way to fall asleep is if you make it a routine, however, seeing as we are all college students doesn’t make that solution too achievable. The earliest I’ve gone to bed this week was at 4 and I can definitely feel the sleep debt accumulating. Last night alone was brutal enough. After hours of biology, calculus and physics, I finally went to bed at 6, only to wake up two short hours later. Besides, the countless hours of homework that keep me up, sleeping late has become a habit. Even when I don’t have homework to do it takes hours to fall asleep earlier than I usually do.

    In order to relieve stress, I either work out or lock myself in my room and put on my headphones. I try not to think about anything and do something I enjoy like watch a movie or stumbleupon the internet. Usually about a half hour of chill time does the trick and shortly I’m back to my hectic work load.

  6. October 30, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I think I always find some sort of time for sleep. Usually I know when its too late for homework for me that time is after 2 and I usually just fall asleep. But the conditions for that situation is that I always need to finish my work before I can. I do this by schedualing. I think time management is key to survival here, and if you make strict scheduals of what you will be doing that day and what work will be accomplished with out leaving time for procrasination I think that you could find yourself some time to sleep. Someways to relieve stress I think is to just spend one night out of the weekend to just go out and have fun with your friends. Know your limits, don’t go too crazy but blow off some steam, usually for me thats friday night not saturday night because sunday is homework day and get loads of work done day, however just one night is deffinitily a stress reliever. A friend of mines used this analogy. She said that during the week we’re always underwater. We need to come up for air once, we’re human afterall. I agree. Come up for air once in the week and then go back under water. It helps. Also plan out days and stick to those plans.

  7. October 31, 2011 at 2:47 am

    When it gets late and I have to do work, normally I skip caffeine and just turn up the tunes. I find that listening to very upbeat music helps me stay up late and finish the work that I need to do. It seems to really work for me and maybe it will work for you too. Also listening to symphonic music like Symphony NO.3 really helps the creative juices flow too, helping you get work done faster so you can go to sleep. If you’ve never listened to fast symphonies while trying to write an essay then I suggest you try it out, it works really well. As to how I deal with stress, normally I take mini 30 minute breaks and do something relaxing that has nothing to do with work. So for example, for the last essay I was feeling really stressed so I took a break and started doing some coding in C, and it was really relaxing because it was something I enjoyed. Then I could go back and start working on my essay and not feel so much stress. So take some time and just do something you enjoy. It can go along way to relieve a lot of your stress.

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