EDITORIAL NOTEBOOK

Exercising stress relief

There are no debates about it; life at RPI is stressful. There are never-ending assignments and projects, ever-approaching exam dates, and the extremely nervewracking finals week. On top of all this, we have to balance this work with our social lives, personal time, jobs, family life, sports, and a myriad of other things. It is hard at times to find the balance between it all, and the challenge certainly doesn’t go away as we grow older. So how are we supposed to deal with this? I have seen people come up with numerous possible solutions. Some people find relaxation by having a night or two off every once in a while to socialize or go out. Others find solitude and peace by taking it easy for a few hours. But the solution that has worked the best for myself has been just a single word: exercise. Exercise provides the break from schoolwork and the personal boost that I need to make my days varied and to keep me motivated.

You hear it over and over again. The tabloids and shoddily made “Improve Your Life in 20 Minutes!” articles always say to exercise a little bit each day. Yes, that would be helpful; we all know this. But how can we have time for that? How does including more stuff to do help de-stress the situation? To be fair, it makes sense that trying to incorporate a workout into your schedule a few times a week could be seen as stressful. But the problem with this perspective is that exercise shouldn’t be a task. The goal is to view exercise as a fun break from work and a chance to get loose; a time to avoid worrying about other things during the day. If I take a break to play a game or to just relax, it’s hard for me to focus on just the thing in front of me. I constantly find myself thinking about what I need to do that night or tomorrow or even next week. The great thing about exercise is that it involves the entirety of your body and your full attention. For that time you’re working out, you can truly take a break from it all.

Perhaps with a gym buddy, finding a few times a week to hit the gym could be a manageable task. And despite the time that it takes, I find myself getting even more done with my day. If I do nothing but study or homework all day, I end up in a rut. It’s extremely hard to focus for hours on end. It just doesn’t work for me. If I can head out to do a workout with a friend or two at any point during the day, I find myself more productive during my study sessions. I wind up getting more done just because I feel healthier and more focused.

In the end, we all have different techniques that we use to alleviate stress and have some fun. Some techniques work for some people and then not for others. It’s all about finding what works for you. But in my experience, nothing helps to level out my day more than a nice workout. If you haven’t given it a shot yet, I highly recommend you do so. Good luck!