Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s that dreaded time of year again: final projects, essays and, dare I say it, exams. But a busy semester does not have to equal a mental breakdown. Here are some tips and tricks to help keep you cool, calm and relaxed. Warning: Use in moderation! Too much fun may lead to severe procrastination.

• Release your inner superstar. Take a 30-minute break from studying, turn up some tunes and come up with a cheesy dance. Perform it for anyone that’s willing to watch. Some of my personal recommendations for song choices: “Kung Fu Fighting,’ “Jump On It,” and “Time Warp.” This is bound to generate excessive laughter, which releases endorphins in your body, making you happier. You’ll be able to clear your head and start fresh.
• Reward yourself. For every two chapters you cover, or for every two pages of an essay that you write, indulge in your favourite TV show, or well, whatever’s on for you night owls (infomercials, anyone?). This gives you the motivation to plow through because then you have something to look forward to.
• Avoid people that you know will just give you extra stress: bosses, little siblings (or big siblings), an annoying friend, that guy who cut you off in the parking lot. You catch my drift.
• Let your inner child play. Gather some friends and play a fun game like Twister or Taboo. If we’re fortunate enough to be blessed with warm weather, head outside for a traditional game of Tag or toss a Frisbee around (yes, you can still pick one up at your local dollar store). The fresh air will wake you up and give you a natural energy boost. Or try getting creative: we all remember how nice it was to sit down and just colour.
• Pent up frustration? Three steps to relief: pick up pillow; hold to face (make sure you can still breathe); scream, adjusting volume as needed. This will help to release those bad, bad feelings that we just need to get out sometimes, before you take it out on your poor roommate or any other unfortunate soul that may cross your path.
• Step away from the computer: no Facebook, no MSN, no YouTube, or whatever other websites you use to distract yourself. The break from the glowing screen will give both your eyes and your mind some time to rest.
• Sleep is a wonderful thing. Consuming large amounts of coffee or energy drinks may give you that temporary boost you need at first but you will crash. Your body needs an average of 7 to 8 hours of sleep to function normally. In other words, it’s great staying up all night studying but useless if you sleep through the exam the next morning.
• Please your tummy. Keep precut vegetables like carrots and celery sticks, or fruits like apple or orange slices in a baggy in the refrigerator. Sounds like rabbit food? Well, those veggie-eaters are probably a lot calmer than you are. Having healthy snack food on hand will stop you from grabbing that bag of greasy (and fattening) potato chips. (Tip: sprinkling lemon juice on apple slices will stop them from browning)
• Breathe. In a frantic rush to get things done, we often forget to just breathe. Stop what you’re doing for a moment. Inhale and count to 20. Exhale slowly. This will slow your heart rate down and allow you to think more clearly. You’ll probably end up remembering more too.

Here’s what some of your fellow students had to say about how they cope with the stress of yet another closing semester:
“I play video games. It’s a good distraction. You can just kind of forget about what’s going on. You don’t have to think about what you’re stressed out about…as long as you can keep it in context. Don’t let it consume your life and realize you have other shit to do as well.” – Russell Cook

“Make time for home and take myself away from my environment. Have some ‘me time’ and step back to take a look at the overall picture…things aren’t usually as bad as they seem are manageable.” – Tara Madlensky

“Well working out helps. But that’s not really what I’d do. I guess I listen to music and just try to forget about what’s bugging me, try to drift into my own world for a little bit, forget about everything.” – Sherwin Shams

“Finding time for yourself is essential, not time for yourself to do work but time to be yourself and do something fun to unload your brain.” – Ashlee Smith

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