Posts Tagged ‘stress management’

hot potato but make it a metaphor for zoom university 

Tuesday, July 19th, 2022

Picture this: you’re playing Extreme Hot Potato for the first time. 

You’ve never played before. You don’t automatically know what makes it extreme- you just know that you signed up, so now you’re playing. You’re a little nervous, a little excited. You bounce on the balls of your feet; you put your hands up like a baseball star, ready to play. 

Suddenly there’s a flaming lump being launched at you. 

Your eyes widen in shock. It’s coming fast, but your brain is faster. 

As the potato, hurls towards you, you process a few things. The first is that this is the potato you are supposed to catch. It is literally on fire, blackened at this point. Definitely overcooked.

The second is anger, because no one told you the “extreme” part of the game would be literally catching something on fire. You would’ve said no, or worn a catcher’s glove, or waited to say yes until you knew how to approach such a weird, wild concept, or something. There were a dozen ways to have handled it but now, with no way to prepare, you’ll probably end up with a hell of a burn.

But you don’t have time to be angry and, as the air around you gets warmer, you brace yourself for the incoming pain, your hands rigid in front of you, and prepare to catch the fiery starch. 

It’s too late to turn back now.

orange lineart drawing of a potato on fire
That is one very hot potato!

Sometimes that’s life- a game of Extreme Hot Potato, with twists and turns you never saw coming. Adolescent life, especially, can be capricious in all the worst ways. There’s dozens of coming-of-age films and books that’ve been written with the sole purpose of reminding fully-grown taxpayers about just how hard it was, and teaching up-and-coming adults how hard it will likely be. Between trying to balance autonomy with still needing support, learning to take care of yourself, doing schoolwork, making friends, holding a job, financing your education, and classes all at once, sometimes it feels like there’s barely time to breathe. Then, worse than any flaming potatoes, 2020 threw in a global pandemic. 

When COVID-19 hit an ill-prepared United States, no one was ready for it. It destroyed peoples’ lives and health, wreaking havoc on the country’s most vulnerable and marginalized citizens. For the people who weren’t dying or struggling with a weakened immune system, it was incredibly isolating. 

While not nearly as tragic as the numerous deaths it caused, the pandemic intensified the difficulties of young adulthood. It was disruptive to the college experience, leaving numerous students without housing or resources they thought they would have. A struggle it caused- that I can speak to more accurately- is how lonely it was. Best friends went from being neighbors to only being able to talk from six feet away, if you were lucky enough to live nearby. I was recently talking to my friend about some of the stuff I’d gone through over the pandemic, which had been a wild ride and a half. I’d broken up with my ex, gone through a few different jobs, dated, and tried to make new friends. My friend, one of the closest people to me when I’d been living on campus, only knew the parts of my life I’d shared online. We lamented the distance quarantine had created, the way the intricacies of social connection had been lost to distance. Not being able to be around one another on campus prevented us from being able to support each other as closely. You can’t really lean on someone from states away.

We were a single case study. Research conducted for the Children and Youth Services Review found that the impact of COVID-19 made students in India more “likely to suffer from stress, anxiety, and depression” (“COVID-19 and its impact on…”)) in addition to negatively affecting their scholarly habits. In the United States, the Center for Collegiate Mental Health found that of 43,098 students who sought mental health counseling, 94% reported that at least one part of their life had been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic (“COVID-19 Impact on College Student Mental Health”). The most affected part of life for the students interviewed, at a resounding 72%, was their mental health; at a barely-lower percentage of 68% were their feelings of isolation. Considering the CCMH report only acknowledges the responses of students who had the resources to seek treatment, it’s safe to assume the pandemic left its mark on the vast majority of us; it changed the course of our college experience.

I haven’t touched on everything else- the difficulties of staying focused in Zoom University, or the way the pandemic prevented students from accessing the facilities or materials necessary to do their work, or the way not everyone had a place to go or a family they could be around safely when it came time to evacuate campuses. Without any need for elaboration, I think it’s clear that all of it, compounded, created a hostile learning environment in an already-tumultuous period of life.

Perhaps the best thing to come from the COVID-19 College Experience was resilience. As someone who stuck through Zoom University, I was able to get a place off-campus, in the same town as my friends from school, and have a semi-normal senior year. Things got better. Proximity allowed me to be closer to my chosen family, to have people around me that I could go to for support, and to have access to my college’s resources. I saw the world start to heal, starting with the little community of Lesley University. For some people, persistence took a different form. Whether it was a gap year or the realization that a traditional college education wasn’t the path for them, the pandemic encouraged people to branch out, finding creative solutions that fit their needs, growing like plants through cracks in the pavement. We all found a way to keep going.

orange lineart drawing of two folks having a talk on a park bench
Sometimes you need a good heart-to-heart with the friend you got separated from at the hands of a global pandemic.

Extreme Hot Potato burns, but you make it out alive.

tl;dr: the only way out is through.

You did it! You survived quarantine and made it all the way through college. You- and your chosen family, made up of a ragtag group of college pals- deserve a sweet treat. 

With your student IDs and the help of a Campus Clipper coupon, you can get just that at Pavement Coffeehouse- and all from the comfort of your own home! By using the promo code specified in the advertisement, you can get five dollars off of your first mobile order.

By Ness Curti

Ness Curti is a freshly-graduated illustrator from the Lesley College of Art and Design. A part-time bobarista and full-time New England adventurer, they hope to one day tell stories for a living, whether through art or words. They enjoy doodling, procrastinating, and saying hello to the dogs they pass on the sidewalk.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.


Staying Sane in NYC: Tips for De-Stressing Beyond Your Apartment

Thursday, July 22nd, 2021

When I first moved to New York City in the Summer of 2017, wide eyed and ready to take on the world, I was ill equipped for the stressful, constant movement and the expectations that the city enforces upon its youth. A freshman with an intense romantic passion for literature, philosophy, and religious studies at The New School, I immersed myself in as much school reading and classwork that I could; after all, I had never had such resources available to me before. The stimulating content on one shelf alone in the List Center library was overwhelming; who knew there could be so many books under Queer New York Literature? Even though I had visited the city often and had lived with my family in nearby New Jersey, the city always thrilled me to no end both on paper and in the real world. As a bibliophilic child, I had grown into a romanticist who wanted nothing more than to experience the streets that Patti Smith had called her stomping grounds, that Joan Didion had marked a perishable dream, and that James Baldwin had portrayed time and time again. Even Percy Jackson had fought his most gruesome battles in the city streets! I needed to make the city my own now. Meanwhile, an idealistic mentality drove me to further excel in my classes because I understood that my time in such an institution and location was a privilege and something I wanted to be proud of when I reflected back on my time spent there. Located just on the border of the East and West Village, The New School gave me the opportunity to walk around the neighborhoods I had once merely read about, to experience the freedom that I did not realize I craved so badly. And best of all, to create my own legacy beyond the pages I had already read.

And then came the burnout from classes. By the time midterm season rolled around, I was exhausted from spending time in the library hunching over my laptop to write papers. I could not blame anyone but myself, for my hunger for literary excellence forced me into perfectionism and my drive to experience everything all at once left me terribly overstimulated. I needed a break from the rush of student life in New York. It did not help that once I stepped out of the University Center on 13th and fifth ave, I was hit with the scramble of New Yorkers moving on with their own lives. How could I deal with this mad rush without being holed up in my freshman shoebox dorm room? It was midterm season and there was no time to revel in this so-called “self-care” that I heard whispered around by students and faculty alike. Or was there?

This was the year that I discovered the quieter side of New York; the lush green of city parks, new neighborhoods, and the realization that I could step back and still feel like a participant of city life. 

Washington Square Amidst a Protest

Taking Advantage of Green Spaces

The Pond

One of my favorite relaxing after class activities was to visit the dog park in Washington Square, just a few much-needed steps away from the jumping atmosphere of the main square. As the sun began to set following a tiresome day in the library or a particularly heated debate in the classroom, I would find myself tucked into the back right of Washington Square watching the dogs frolic in their own designated space. As a student, it is almost impossible to have a dog in a shoebox apartment or communal dorm and as a dog person, this space is the next best thing! One of my close friends would often text me after she got out of class on a particularly anxious day to meet her at the dog park so that we could sit together and watch the puppies for a while while we cleared our heads. Afterwards, try having a late lunch or hot drink at the famous Cafe Reggio, home of the original cappuccino and just steps away on MacDougal Street or getting ice cream on that same street at Van Leeuwen.

Harlem Meer

My favorite park to relax solo in has always been Central Park. Relaxing alone is important for my self care regime, as it allows me to sit with my thoughts before I journal my feelings in order to relieve stress. Never ignore your feelings, this can lead to a build up of anxiety that will be difficult to relieve all at once later on. When you are overworked from school, it is okay to admit when you are at your limit and need a break or some alone time! The key to finding the perfect secluded location to enjoy my own company is proximity to water. Wildlife like ducks and remarkable birds are more likely to inhabit areas that are not oversaturated with people and that have natural resources like streams and lakes. If you forgot your blanket, don’t worry! The best location for sitting and enjoying your book on a bench would be The Pond, which is just a short walk away from the Fifth ave and E. 59th street Central Park entrance, right across from the famous Plaza Hotel. The Plaza Hotel also has a food court in the basement, which is open to the public! Even on cool afternoons, this location is ideal because it is not too secluded so as to feel lonely, nor is it overpopulated. There is also a tiny bridge that you can take photos from with the New York city skyline behind you! I have spent many afternoons reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt here to clear my mind after a busy school week. 

If you would rather sprawl out on a blanket and are located further uptown, I recommend the Harlem Meer, which is located just off of the 2 and 3 train 110th street subway stop. There is both a perfect mix of bench seating and grass that surrounds the peaceful lake. Here you can even find turtles swimming in the water! I loved to run through the park starting in this location because it affords me the fulfilling view of a calm landscape that eases me into my daily jog. When you want to sit and relax, there are wonderful, well maintained spots to sit in the grass and enjoy the day!

City Walks

New York city is also the perfect location for people watchers! Whether it be to gain writing inspiration or even just to wind down, people watching is a fantastic pastime for me in the city. Try walking around a new neighborhood to see different things; soon you will be able to tell the different communities that are present all across the city. While I was living on the upper east side as a student from my sophomore to junior year, I loved walking down Madison Avenue to people watch and window shop. This allowed for socialization as I was still immersed in city life while not necessarily forcing myself into social situations. As someone who creates best in their alone time, city walks like this have been particularly healing to me on stressful days and has helped me gain inspiration for my fiction writing. When you need to take a rest, try the Great Lawn just behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 86th street. In the summertime, the Delacorte Theatre, which is located a few paces away, hosts free Shakespeare in the Park events! 



  • Find some alone time amidst the rush of constant city activity to decompress after classes!
  • Try: the dog park in Washington Square, The Pond and Harlem Meer in Central Park.
  • Stop by Cafe Reggio and Van Leeuwen  after a day in Washington Square.
  • Have a meal at the Plaza Hotel Food Court before going to The Pond. 
  • Take city walks and discover new neighborhoods for both inspiration and to unwind!
  • Try: walking down Madison Avenue before visiting the Great Lawn and Delacorte Theatre.

These are just a few examples of places I like to go when I need to slow down after a grueling day as a New York city student. Eventually, you will be able to find which neighborhoods you like the most, thus opening up new communities for you to discover and be a part of! 


Helisoa Randriamanana is an aspiring writer, academic, and recent Spring 2021 graduate of The New School with a BA in literary studies and a double minor in philosophy and religious studies. She is interested in jump starting a career in the world of book publishing and most of her work, both fiction and non-fiction, reflects the humanist philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas.


Triage: Learning to Prioritize And Reduce Stress

Saturday, July 29th, 2017





(in medical use) the assignment of degrees of urgency to wounds or illnesses to decide the order of treatment of a large number of patients or casualties.



assign degrees of urgency to (wounded or ill patients).

A few years ago, a nurse told me, “You need to learn how to triage.” She was referring to my schoolwork and life balance using terminology from the hospital. Triage is the process of determining the urgency of a patient’s condition and prioritizing all patients by immediacy of need for transportation and care. For example, someone with an injury to their vital organs will obviously be prioritized above someone with a broken wrist. The nurse was the mother of someone close to me, and I was insulted because I thought she was criticizing my priorities and goals as being wrong. In retrospect, I realize what she saw: a stressed out college student who had no time for anything but school, starved of any fun and relaxation.

Ever since, I’ve been experimenting with how I prioritize time and goals. Sometimes I’m still not certain I’ve got it “right,” but I think this is true for everyone: balance is not a tidy endpoint with a bow on it. Life is always throwing us curve balls, and even when we see them coming we’re not always prepared for the blow. Priorities change, circumstances change, and our goals and estimations of what will make us happy change. And finding the right balance between the many facets of wellness, from exercise and diet to confidence and self presentation, relationships, sleep hygiene, and mental health—on top of the rest of life  (family, chores, school, work, and other responsibilities) is a process and a challenge. But there’s also no feeling like equilibrium. You will genuinely feel healthier, happier, more energetic, and more peaceful when you find it, whatever that equilibrium looks like for you.

In this eternal pursuit of balance, I’ve been learning how to triage. It seems simple and obvious in the context of a hospital and physical injuries, but it can be harder to do with school. Some instances are easy: Say you have a chemistry exam and a French quiz on the same day. The chemistry exam is worth 30 percent of your grade for the course, while the French quiz is 10 percent. You have a limited amount of time to study. Which one do you prioritize? For high-aiming achievers, making these kinds of judgments is inherently stressful because everything feels like a #1 priority. I’ve learned a few effective steps for prioritization that have helped me be a calmer, happier, healthier person, and I hope they help you too!

1. Write down all the tasks you need to get done

The list might look overwhelming at first, but having a physical copy of your tasks allows you to sort through them visually. In your brain, they’re all floating around with equal weight. On paper, they become concrete things that can be ordered and reordered.

2. Triage!

Which obligation is going to metaphorically bleed out and die if you don’t see to it immediately? Which one is an extremity that needs stitches, but not urgent? Assess which tasks need to be completed sooner than others based on time constraints.

3. Consider tasks based on value

If your long term goal is to get a certain grade in a class, then in general it makes sense to do the reading for that class consistently instead of hitting the gym every single day. But now and then you might really need a sweat sesh or an endorphin boost, and if that’s going to be more valuable by upping your mood and energy, it might be worth it to skim through that night’s reading.

4. Consider tasks based on effort

With tasks that have comparable value, estimate how much effort each task will require. Start with the more difficult task first. That way, when you’re losing steam, you’ll still be able to make it through the easier tasks leftover.

5. Accept the limitations of reality

There will be instances where you simply won’t be able to do everything on the list and something needs to go. After you’ve made your time and value estimates for your task list, eliminate the ones you know you can’t get to that day and give your all to the things you can.

I hope these prioritization tips help bring you balance and peace of mind in your pursuit of wellness, success, and happiness! Please share this chapter and these pointers with anyone you think might benefit from them. Though heavily modified from any canonical origin of the Buddha’s teachings, I do appreciate the popular quote, “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the single candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” So it is with wellness. Sharing will never decrease your own. Go forth, share, flourish, and delight in your life!

By Sofia Lerner

Sofia Lerner is a Campus Clipper publishing intern who is studying English as a senior at NYU. Passionate about literature, dance, and wellness, Sofia aspires to help the arts thrive and help others pursue healthy lifestyles. For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services. 

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.