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ISSUE 118 VOL 20 PUBLISHED 5/13/2005

The importance of relaxation

By Executive Editors
Executive Editor

Friday, May 13, 2005

The importance of relaxation

This is a busy time of year at St. Olaf. As we all prepare for final exams, papers and presentations, life on the Hill can be stressful. During these hectic times, remember to take a moment to relax. While studying is an important part of the college experience, the value of relaxation should not be underestimated. The pressing question, however, is what can we do to reduce our stress levels?

In collaboration with The Cleveland Clinic, WebMD, an online medical resource, has developed a list of tips for reducing stress. We have adapted this list and chosen the three topics we find most important for college students. Consider it a "cheat sheet" about how to reduce stress during finals time. We offer three tips for stress reduction: spend time with friends, eat well, make time to exercise.

The first tip seems obvious, but try to spend time with friends. This has the potential to make stress more manageable. As WebMD declares, one of the keys to stress reduction is to: "Seek out social support." Take time between study sessions to watch a movie, play a board game or just head to the Cage together. Even something as simple as walking across the hall to have a quick chat with a friend, or going to the dorm lounge with your roommate, can decrease stress levels.

Secondly, eat well. More specifically, we think this means: eat at least two meals a day and, when possible, try to eat healthy foods. During these busy times, make sure to include meal time in your schedule. It may be tempting to skip lunch to finish your 15-page paper, but we think that even a quick meal will leave you refreshed, and help you to more effectively finish assignments. Seek out healthy foods. While those pressed for time may not always be able to eat healthy foods, adding a piece of fruit or some vegetables to your meal can be helpful as well.

Finally, take some time in the coming week to go down to Tostrud and Skoglund. According to WebMD, exercise is important because "your body can fight stress better when it is fit." A simple 15-minute routine on the exercise equipment, a jog around the track, or a climb up the rock-climbing wall, can help you conquer stress. Even a walk through Norway Valley or a run across campus will make it easier to deal with stress.

Our studies are important, but we must not forget the importance of maintaining a balanced life. As we search for balance, the words of Aristotle seem especially useful. As he writes in Book II of The Nicomachean Ethics: "Thus a master of any art avoids excess and defect, but seeks the intermediate and chooses this … "

As we approach finals time, Aristotle provides us a helpful reminder. It seems worthwhile to temper our studying with relaxation. These stress reduction techniques provide a few ways to strike such a balance in our lives, while also making the end of the term a bit more manageable.

For more information about stress reduction, visit WebMD ( and search keyword: "Stress relief."

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