Feeling Stressed? Me Too. Here are Some Ways to Unwind!


Photo by Hannah Choy

Hannah Choy, Editor

Talking to my peers, it seems that many are currently in the same situation of feeling overwhelmingly stressed, especially among upperclassmen (shocker, I know). This universal experience of stress can be onset by a variety of factors including academics, socializing, and athletics. While it is impossible to completely avoid, having a reliable arsenal of de-stressing activities at your disposal is an invaluable tool in alleviating some stress.
I split my personal list into two main categories: shorter-term and longer-term projects. The shorter activities are ideal for times when I am very busy, such as during the school year, while I reserve the longer projects for breaks and more extended periods of free time. Here are my top five choices of quick activities that you can practice in the midst of this school year’s hectic first semester!

#5: Go Outside
This may be an expected, cliché response that many people anticipate when first considering how they cope with stress, particularly going on walks. However, I feel like simply being exposed to the outdoors, no matter how brief or limited the interaction is, truly lifts my mood. It’s fairly easy to do as well- simply step away from your work space and spend a few minutes, or even seconds, outside. Look up at the sky, or at the small caches of nature’s treasures that surround you. Appreciate these tiny flashes of sereneness and use it to rejuvenate your consequent working period.

#4: Organize
Okay, hear me out on this one. I know that organizing and cleaning can be a polarizing topic, but I am a firm believer in the correlation between an orderly space and mind. When my workspace and surrounding environment are clean, I feel less inclined to be distracted, or bothered by the clutter around me. Finding your ideal environment may take some experimenting- for me personally, I love having cute décor and trinkets in my room, but I have (unfortunately) discovered that this self-proclaimed aesthetic choice does not work in tandem with my ability to focus. Thus, while the rest of my room may be very visually stimulating, I prefer to keep my desk relatively free of anything that isn’t necessary to the task at hand. This minimalism also makes it easy to maintain an orderly area.

#3: Cuddle With a Pet
This is another fairly stereotypical method to manage stress, but it is definitely effective and something I utilize often. I have a white miniature schnauzer, appropriately named Bear due to his resemblance to a polar bear cub (including his rotundness). His favorite activities are eating and sleeping. While not the most enthralling, it works to my advantage as it’s easy to lay with him and mindlessly stroke his fur.
A slight sub-section to this activity is lying on the floor. Maybe I am just unusual, but something about lying on a solid surface helps to ground me. This is particularly useful for situations where I feel like I have little to no control over the results/consequences. Having a momentary pause from these flooding emotions not only provides me with a chance to consider my next step(s), but also to feel realigned with my body (this is starting to sound like a strange version of meditation but I promise it helps).

#2: Do Something Kinaesthetic
What I mean by “kinaesthetic” is essentially anything hands-on and/or engaging to the senses. Sometimes, the task at hand can feel dull and uninteresting, so doing a kinaesthetic activity helps me to retain my focus and awareness. Examples of personal favorites include working on a longer-term art project like a crochet piece, cooking or meal prepping, or practicing an instrument. Basically, anything that you find enjoyable and have relatively easy access to works here, added bonus if you do it away from your workspace.

#1: Listen to Music
While listening to music is often a passive activity, it is still a great way to relieve some stress. This is at the top of my list because it is extremely easy to do and is something that is an integral part of my daily life. In fact, I literally have music playing in the background as I write this sentence. The only potential drawback to this practice is its potential function as a distraction. Again, the key here is to find what works for you, whether it is softer, chill background beats or songs that are emotionally evocative.
I hope that some of my suggestions and personal experiences help you to find out what works for you, and alleviates some of the stress you feel! Each of the aforementioned listed activities are fairly customizable to your own situation and preferences, so experiment to find what works best. Best of luck with your to-do list, no matter how extensive it may be 🙂