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5 Ways to Deal with Stress at ICO

Exams are well underway, intramural play has started, weekly meetings are scheduled. We are pretty much into the bulk of the quarter. With that being said, things are hectic. I think I speak for all students when I say: we need an outlet.

When I say “outlet,” I am referring to a way to relieve stress, blow off steam, clear your head, or whatever you want to call it. Everyone functions differently and everyone has a different outlet. With all the different students at ICO and all the resources, there is something for everyone. Here is a list of some of the common techniques students use to de-stress at ICO.

1. The Fitness Center

The Fitness Center is open pretty much from 6am-11pm every day. So, whether you’re a night owl or a morning person, you can get your workout in. There is always someone on staff to answer your questions or help you with a specific piece of equipment or exercise. This includes group fitness classes like Cycling and Kick Boxing if you’re into that scene. If you want a personalized coach, there are Fit Coaches available to meet with you one-on-one to develop a personalized plan to achieve your fitness goals. In addition to this, they have every kind of equipment you can think of. This is my go-to de-stresser. There is nothing quite like getting in a workout, listening to some loud music, and releasing some natural endorphins.

2. Extracurricular activities 

This is a broad category and most people don’t think of a private optometry school being big on the extracurriculars, right? Wrong. There are IM Sports including volleyball, basketball, soccer, flag football, baseball, and numerous others. And, you’d be surprised at how competitive some leagues are as well as how relaxed and fun some of the others are. I personally am involved in soccer for now, but who knows what other teams I’ll end up playing on by the end of the year?

Besides just sports, if you live in the RC, there are planned events that are usually free. These include weekend trips to Bulls games, Shedd Aquarium, and the Lincoln Park Zoo. This is a great way to experience the city and get away from campus.

3. Clubs and Organizations

There is every kind of organization you think of related to optometry at ICO. To list a few, the Private Practice Club, the Spanish Club, the Canadian Club, and the Corneal Lens Society. Getting involved in one of these is a great way to get away from the academic demands of optometry and see the field as a whole from a different perspective. They almost always have free food, too, from local Chicago places which is a definite bonus.

4. Reading and/or Movies 

Netflix. What college student hasn’t succumbed to binge watching a season or two of a show on Netflix? I certainly did in undergrad and those habits seemed to have carried over.

Outside of Netflix, there are plenty of movies or books to check out from the library during a study break. Many of my classmates use this technique to give them a break from the books. I personally have not gotten into recreational reading so I am not speaking from experience, but I am told that it’s nice to read something other than a text book or your notes every once in a while.

5. Keeping in touch with family and old friends 

Many of my classmates do this. They will call home every day just to talk to their parents or a sibling or an old friend. It feels good to reach out and see what is going on outside of the ICO world. I keep in touch with a buddy from high school in addition to talking to my parents every once in a while. Getting away from the demands of school and talking to someone who has nothing to do with optometry can be quite therapeutic.

The better I get to know my classmates, the more and more differences I see between them- especially when it comes to their outlets and how they handle the demands of school. This is only a small list of some of the ways students here relieve stress. Like I said, everyone is different so naturally everyone has a different method of stress relief. Regardless of what that outlet is, ICO can facilitate it and in the end, it all adds to the ICO experience.


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