It’s that wonderful time of year when summer is closing down and school is opening its doors back up. Transitional periods always make me extra anxious, and I always have trouble managing my stress. I know I’m not the only student out there that is on edge this time of year. Here are some ways that I relieve stress and calm the eff down.
- Yoga. I know this is on every list ever. Literally, ever. It is on every list, though, because it works. I take an hour every morning to just quiet my mind, and connect with my body. I know that sounds strange, but my fellow yogis will agree that it is so calming. It can help regulate your breathing. It makes you more flexible! So many benefits. For me, it’s easier than just meditating on the floor. This is soothing.
- If you don’t want the soothing workout, go for a run. A long, hard run. Sprints included. I run during the late morning hours, so there are fewer people on the trails and I can sprint until my lungs collapse. After a run, the stress has evaporated. Opposite from yoga, running makes me feel like a badass. I also get to focus on how bad my lungs burn and that my legs feel like giving out. Five miles don’t run themselves.
- Blast the music. I have a playlist on Spotify dedicated to strutting. You read that correctly. The music is fierce, the beats are strong, and it makes me feel like a warrior goddess walking into a battle that I know I’m going to win. There is something so ego boosting about it. Again, it melts my stress, while improving self-confidence. I’m not saying you need Beyonce (except, I am) but blast Sinatra, or Tchaikovsky, or One Direction, or Drake, or whoever gets you going. Whoever gives you peace of mind. Let it ring in your ears. For hours.
- Take pictures. I love whipping out my Canon, but capturing something with your phone, or with film is so awesome. You can draw or write. But do something productive and creative. No, don’t do homework. (I’m writing about ridding your bod of stress, not adding to the collection.) When your brain is focusing on how to get the lighting right for the perfect snapshot, you aren’t thinking about rent that’s due tomorrow morning. Have you ever made a collage out of magazine? It takes hours, its mindless, and so incredibly calming.
- Watch Sports. I love movies as much as a cinema major should, but watching baseball makes me feel nostalgic about my athletic days, it brings out my competitive spirit, and it makes me happy. Sports don’t have much of a point other than the competition involved. Try watching some baseball, volleyball, or tennis. You don’t have to know the rules. It’s mindless. You’ll find your favorite, and start cheering them on. Where’s your stress now?
I wish I could tell you to go get some coffee at your local coffee shop, or to take a nap, or a long drive. As much of a comfort those typically provide to me, they do no good when I’m anxious or stressed. Coffee will only inflate your anxiety. I tend to start shaking (literally). Driving only makes me think about what is making me drive. My mind races even more, because nothing is keeping me occupied. Open road is not enough of a distraction. Sleeping doesn’t happen when I am stressed. I will lay in bed and count the rotations of the fan until I spiral into pessimism and despair. How tragic.
As much as I wish that stress was preventable, it just isn’t. I do everything within my own power to put myself in situations that I can handle and deal with my stress in the most healthy way. You wouldn’t believe how many miles I run in the last weeks of summer, or during midterms and finals. I take the best pictures when I’m stressed, because I make a game of finding good shots. Sure, 50 of the 55 I take are mediocre at best, but those five others are something I get to be so proud of.
Let me know how you handle stress. What do you eat? What do you watch? I’m always looking for new ways to decompress and calm down. Because truly, I’m rarely calm.