As we approach the last few days of this finals week, hanging onto calm can sometimes begin to feel more difficult. When I feel myself beginning to sink into a pattern of anxiety and bad feelings, finding a way to “reset,” or break out of the spiral, helps enormously. Whether it’s taking a quick fun video break or getting up and moving around a little bit (even if you feel you don’t have time for a full-fledged walk) a little bit of variety can help. Here are some other strategies for breaking out of the rut:
1. A quick breathing exercise: A simple one is inhaling through your nose for 2 counts, exhaling through your mouth for 4; pause, and repeat. (You can also use any rhythm of slow breathing that feels comfortable for you).
2. Drinking water: Even mild dehydration (which can happen even before you feel thirsty) has the ability to affect mood, focusing ability, and feelings of fatigue, so drinking cool water or tea (available in the Well-Woman office!) can offer both a little break and a feeling of relief.
3. Doing a simple chore: If you have a quick chore that could use doing – wiping down your desk, maybe, or washing your dishes – completing the chore and focusing your attention on it – the spots on the desk, the feeling of water running over your hands – can help relieve some stress and leave you feeling more balanced.
4. “Bzzt” reset: A friend swears by doing a “physical” reset to help snap out of a distracted, negative, or unproductive way of thinking – making a “bzzt” noise with your mouth and shivering, as if you’re a kitchen timer that’s just gone off. The physical absurdness of the gesture is often enough to make you laugh, and it’s supposed to symbolize a physical reset. Afterward, it can be helpful to ask yourself “Okay, where do I go from here?”