Words by Samantha Ickes

According to an Associated Press study, 80 percent of college students say they frequently experience daily stress. One way to keep your body healthy and energetic is by getting rid of those stressful negative toxins in your life. However, this can be easier said than done. When life gets stressful, time is often difficult to find. Taking time for yourself is the key to having a healthy life, especially when it comes to your mental well-being.

Here are a few “healthy hints” to living a less stressful lifestyle. I can’t promise you’ll never experience stress again (that’s simply impossible), but these hints will hopefully help you rest a little easier at night.

1. Get enough sleep. According to Stanford University, students need to get eight hours of sleep or more each night. I know when I have to get up for class at 6:30 a.m. and don’t get done with homework until after midnight, I’m definitely not getting my eight hours. Days like that make napping my best friend. WebMD recommends 20-30 minute naps in the middle of the day between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Napping after 3 p.m. can affect your sleep schedule and make it difficult to fall asleep at night.

2. Give in. Sometimes it’s OK to give into your desires—even if it is a big bowl of pumpkin-flavored ice cream. As long as you’re not binge eating every night, it’s OK to treat yourself to something you like—whether that’s something sweet or lying around watching Netflix for a couple hours when you should be studying all day. Taking a mental break to do something you love or to treat yourself can be beneficial to your health.

3. Use mantras. When you’re stressed, little annoyances can pile up and cause you to explode. I’ve noticed this in myself when I’m super stressed about school. The smallest things start to irritate me. Using mantras to reframe a situation into something positive help alleviate some of those daily hassles that build up throughout the day.

You didn’t get that A on your exam you wanted: “I’ll work harder next time.”

You can’t go out, because you have too much homework: “I’m thankful for the chance to someday have the career of my dreams.”

4. Get up and move. Any form of exercise from yoga to running can be a stress relief. According to Mayo Clinic, exercising releases endorphins, which are the brain’s “feel-good” neurotransmitters. This is sometimes referred to as a “runner’s high.” Exercising and releasing these endorphins can improve your mood and increase self-confidence.

These “healthy hints” can help you live a better lifestyle, but putting these tips into practice is the only way to actually decrease stress in your life. At the beginning of the semester, I was swamped with classes and work. I forgot to put these into action, but once I got back into my daily yoga sequence of 15-20 minutes and managed my time to get enough sleep each night, my mental health has improved significantly. I feel less stressed and more at ease with my daily responsibilities.