School is stressful. I don’t care if you are a freshman taking 16 credits or a second-semester senior taking the bare minimum, being in a school environment is burdensome and, for many people, can be anxiety-provoking.
However, sometimes the most stressful part of school is not having a plan or enough time to actually de-stress. Fortunately, there are effective plans to help you de-stress while in college and they should be “do-able” in the time you have available. Here are some ideas:
Go for a Walk/Jog/Run
Even if you don’t love to exercise, I highly recommend you start incorporating cardiovascular exercise into your routine. Walking, jogging or running is a great way to clear your head. It can help your health both mentally and physically. Even if you just do the cardio for 15 minutes each day, I promise you that it will make a difference and that you will end up increasing the time because you will start to see the amazing benefits. If you go to a school where it’s warm enough to be outside, then run outside. If not, go on the treadmill.
While doing your cardio, either revel in the silence and enjoy the mindlessness of the activity or listen to an awesome music playlist that puts a smile on your face and/or calms you down.
Remember to take whatever exercise you decide to do at your own pace and go about it in a way that fits into your schedule. Don’t try to work around anyone else’s workout schedule. Exercising with other people can be great, but sometimes working out alone is less stressful and more calming.
Take a Yoga Class
Yoga is a great activity to do early in the morning or at night right before you go to bed because it helps calm you down. Practicing yoga combines fitness, focus and an overall sense of self and healthy well-being. It can definitely be hard to get into yoga and stay committed to it, but it should be a part of your weekly routine. The great thing about yoga is that it is often offered for free at university gyms. Or local yoga studios may offer fantastic and financially manageable class packages so that you don’t have to worry about sacrificing your bank account for the benefit of your mental health.
Similar to walking/jogging/running, yoga is great for both your mental and physical health. Classes are offered in a variety of difficulty levels so that you know what you’re doing and don’t hurt yourself. Plus, even though all classes focus on being present in the moment, some classes will be more focused on introspection while others will be more physically challenging. Pick which class is best for you!
Do Some Meditation
Meditation has wonderful de-stressing benefits, and it doesn’t take much time out of your day. The art of meditation is simple. You sit straight up, either on the floor or in a chair, close your eyes and take deep, purposeful breaths. The recommended time for meditation is around 10 minutes, but even 5 minutes of meditation will do wonders for your overall mental well-being.
However, if you are like me and have a hard time meditating on your own, there are apps that you can download on your phone that can help guide you through the meditation process.
Cook an Elaborate and/or Healthy Meal
In the past, when I was stressed, I thought that ordering lunch and dinner for delivery would help because it would give me more time to attend to other things I needed to do – like homework. However, I found that when I took the time to cook dinner for myself, I felt a lot better and healthier, physically and mentally.
The meal doesn’t have to be an elaborate one. You can check cooking websites to find some exciting new and quick recipes.
Cooking is extremely therapeutic, and there is nothing more satisfying than eating a home-cooked meal. Some easy go-to meals that take 30 minutes or less are: baked salmon; rotisserie chicken with rice and veggies; pasta and salad; veggie burgers (you can buy these frozen) with frozen sweet potato fries. Cooking will eventually become a part of your routine, and studies show that healthier foods that are cooked at home actually help to create stronger mental health.
I hope these tips were helpful. However, if the stress seems to become too much and you are worried about your mental/psychological well-being, you should go to your local emergency room or your local university counseling/mental health center.
You can de-stress, and if the stress gets to be too much you can get help from your support system: family, friends, professors, advisors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and more. You aren’t alone, and you will get through this!