Stress comes to us in many forms throughout life. In college, however, it can be more overwhelming than usual. Whether you’re managing on your own for the first time or the workload is getting to you, one way to deal with stress is to take a break. Most often, taking a break can make you more anxious as your mind wanders back to whatever is causing your stress. The secret is to keep yourself occupied with something enjoyable and absorbing.

Here are 10 ideas to get you started!

1. Drawing/Colouring:

If you’re naturally gifted at art, it is an obvious choice as an outlet for your stress. However, if you’re like me and have close to no artistic skill, you can opt for adult colouring books or drawing simple patterns like mandalas (easy tutorials can be found on YouTube). A mandala is a geometric pattern or shape that is said to represent the universe. Easy to outline and colour in, the act is a great way to relieve tension. Adult colouring books are easily available as well. Go to your nearest bookstore and pick one with a theme you like and get colouring!

2. Music

Music is an age-old stress reliever. It is said to slow pulse and heart rate, reducing blood pressure even. This curbs the production of stress hormones in the system. This effect is mainly produced by slow piano pieces, classical music and even light jazz. However, anything that isn’t too harsh on the ears can produce more or less the same effect. So if you’re looking for a way to unwind, sit down with your favourite calming playlist and de-stress thoroughly.

Pro Tip: Check out Weightless by Marconi Union, a song known to relieve up to 65% of your anxiety.

3. Bake

Cooking is not everyone’s cup of tea but trust me, not as much can go wrong when you’re baking. Plus you get a delicious end product (most of the time). Call some friend’s over, look up an easy recipe and you’re all set. The simple careful measuring out of ingredients and mixing them together to create a delectable dessert is calming in its own methodic way. Plus you even get to spend some time with friends!

4. Yoga & Meditation

Yoga is a therapeutic mind-body practice that combines physical movement with controlled breathing and meditation to maximize stress-relief and maintain health. Aside from reduced muscle tension, anxiety, stress hormones, lowered heart rate and blood pressure, yoga also slows the aging process and enables sound sleep. Practicing yoga for at least 15-20 minutes daily has a multitude of benefits and is sure to help curb any of the stress you might be feeling.

5. Hobbies/Skills

Pick up a new hobby or skill. Learn a language, practice a song on your guitar, do some origami or even knit a sweater. New skills aside from enriching your repertoire of accomplishments, keep you engaged and entertained, thus keeping your mind away from any anxious thoughts. Online courses are an easy way to keep your mind sharp. Always wanted to learn to code? Just look it up on any online course website (edX, Coursera, etc.) and you have all the knowledge you need at the tip of your finger.

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6. Weekend Vacation/Roadtrip

Gather up some of your friends and plan a small getaway over the weekend. This is a surefire way of getting both you and your friends relaxed and refreshed for weeks to come. Make sure you plan in advance though, aligning and accommodating everyone’s busy schedules is not an easy task!

7. Read

Reading is habit often lost in the frenzied craze of adulthood. Think back to when you last read a full novel – you probably can’t even recall. Reading is one of the easiest stress-busters you can think of. Aside from being engaging, it can also serve to inform and increase your knowledge on a subject. Be it fantasy, history, biography or even self-help – pick your favourite genre and start reading!

Pro Tip: Check out our list of quick reads you can get through in under a weekend here.

8. Volunteer

The first step is to find local organisations that support causes you believe in. From marathons to the local animal shelter to an orphanage nearby, your options are endless so long as you do the necessary research. Keep your mind open and receptive to new experiences and you will find yourself enriched. Personal growth is essential for a stress-free mind, and volunteering/community service do just that.

9. Catch Up With an Old Friend

Often our busy programmes cause us to lose touch with friends and relatives. Since friends and family form the very foundation of your support system make sure you do not neglect them. During your downtime call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while or even someone you can vent your frustrations to. Talking to a loved one can be cathartic, relieving and can often give you an outside perspective and clarity in any situation.

10. Watch a Nostalgic Movie

To me, nothing says home more than an old rerun of a Disney movie on TV. If you’re feeling especially homesick and burnt out, put on your favourite childhood movie, packed with memories of an easier time, and unwind. Usually, this will leave you feeling content and fulfilled even lessening any anxiety and stress you may have. Also, who doesn’t love a good tub of popcorn and a Toy Story Marathon? Call your friends over and make a movie night out of it.

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