Ways to Destress in College

Learn How to Relax Amidst the Chaos

Two college students walking together on campus
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Knowing how to destress can make all the difference between a crazed college experience and one you feel you have control over. Sometimes, however, knowing that you need to destress can be different than actually knowing how to destress. Check out this list of tips; there's sure to be one (or more) for nearly everyone!

Relaxing Ways to Destress

  • Breathe deeply. It only takes a few minutes, but it can do wonders for your mental health. Focus on inhaling and exhaling while trying to let all the stress in your brain slowly melt away.
  • Put your headphones in and listen to some music. Closing your eyes and relaxing while listening to some music can do wonders for your brain. Tuning out the world for even 5 minutes can be a great way to lower your stress and increase your mental clarity.
  • Daydream about your life after graduation. College can be overwhelming because there is so much to do all of the time. Let yourself daydream for a few minutes about what your dream life will be like after graduation. Don't worry about how you'll make everything happen; just imagine the best possible scenario.
  • Look through your personal pics online. You can check out things you've posted on Facebook or elsewhere. Looking through your personal pics can warm your heart and cool your stress.
  • Look through the pics you have on your phone. Most people take a ton of pictures with their cell phone -- and then forget all that's on there. Take a quick trip down memory lane while also giving yourself a break and a few minutes to relax.
  • Read motivational quotations about college and education. Sometimes, college life can simply seem -- if not be -- overwhelming. Give yourself some perspective by reading over some motivational quotations about college that can help remind you why you work so hard in the first place.
  • Come up with a list of 10 things you've accomplished today/this week. Sometimes, people can get so focused on what they have left to do that they've forgotten all the things they've already done. Lower your stress by writing down at least 10 things you've accomplished today or this week. You just might surprise yourself!
  • Take a quick shower. Most of the time, you shower to get clean. Today, however, take a shower to just relax yourself. Let the hot water massage your shoulders and try to imagine your stress being rinsed off and going down the drain, too.
  • Take a quick bath. If you're lucky enough to live in a place that has bathtubs, a quick bath can be a magical escape. Squirt some soap (or even shampoo) in for some bubbles and pretend you're somewhere far, far away.
  • Wash your face. If you don't have time for a bath or a shower, a quick face-wash can do wonders for waking you up, making you feel refreshed, and helping to relax you, even if it's just for a minute or two. Even if you don't have your soap handy, a quick splash of water will do.
  • Give yourself a mani/pedi. You don't have to escape to a nail salon to feel fancy. Grab some polish and give yourself a visual pick-me-up as a way to destress and focus on something fun and funky for a few minutes.
  • Address the thing that is stressing you out the most. Chances are, amidst all your stressors, there's at least one or two things that really stand out. Do at least one thing to address the biggest stress factor(s) in your life -- even if it's deciding not to worry about it until tomorrow.

    Active Ways to Destress

    • Do some stretching. You don't have to be a yoga teacher to know how to stretch. Whether you're in the library, the quad, or your room, a few minutes of slow, deep stretching can improve your mood immensely.
    • Do some yoga specifically catered to stress reduction. Of course, if you do love yoga, you know how helpful some good stretching and breathing can be for your health. Take what you've learned in a yoga class and apply it at a time you need it most.
    • Go for a walk. It doesn't matter where you go -- in fact, and aimless walk might be better than one with tasks assigned to it. But remove yourself from a stressful situation and enjoy a few minutes out and about.
    • Go for a quick run. Grab your shoes, throw on some running clothes, and get your stress out while hitting the pavement (or track or treadmill or ...). A quick, high-intensity run can lower your stress and increase your energy for hours afterward.
    • Go for a bike ride. Who says you can only use your bike to get to and from class? Go for a quick ride that's more fun than functional.
    • Ride a skateboard. If you're able to ride a skateboard on (or near) campus, this pastime can be a great break from your regular, stressful college routine.
    • Clean up your desk. Alright, it sounds lame, but wouldn't it be nice to start your homework with a nice, clean, organized desk? A clear space leads to a clear mind and cleaning up your desk can do wonders for your productivity.
    • Clean up your room. Even people who like clean rooms often don't like actually cleaning them. Set a timer for 5 minutes and see how much you can get done in that time. You'll get yourself moving, get your things organized, and get your head away from the source of your stress for at least a few minutes.
    • Clean out your backpack. Boring? Maybe. Well, actually ... totally boring. But doing something completely mindless that will result in feeling productive can be a great way to focus on something other than your stress.
    • Do some laundry. You may not want to do it, but think of the benefits: You'll get yourself out of your current, stress-inducing project. You'll get yourself moving. You'll get a mental break from your more stressful tasks. And you'll finally get some clean clothes.
    • Dance. For some, dancing can be a great escape from the stressors of everyday life. Dance to your heart's content for a few minutes before returning to your regularly scheduled tasks.
    • Go walk and buy a cup of tea. Sure, you may have some tea in your room, but sometimes the extra little splurge can be worth it. You'll get moving while also getting a break.
    • Go walk and buy a cup of coffee. If it's looking like it'll be a long night, go walk to the campus coffee shop and splurge on a cup o' joe. You'll get your blood pumping while also getting a little caffeine in your system.
    • Go walk and buy a healthy snack. Sure, those french fries look delicious, but opting for a piece of fruit and some whole wheat toast from the dining tall will make you feel better, both physically and mentally.
    • Go for a walk and treat yourself to, well, a treat. Alright, let's be honest here: sometimes you just need a candy bar. Take the long way to the vending machines before selecting a special treat to pick you up and lower your stress, even if it's just for a little while.

    Social Ways to Destress

    • Call a friend and catch up for a few minutes. Checking in with someone you hold near and dear can be great for your heart. Get the latest from your friend while also sneaking in a nice mental break, too.
    • Send a friend an email. Chances are, there's at least one friend you need to catch up with -- but you may not have time right now for a phone call. Send a quick email letting them know the latest and greatest in your life. And if you're lucky, the next time you need a break, there will be an email from them, too.
    • Send your parents an email. Let's face it; you don't talk to your parents enough while you're away at school and they'd like you to keep in touch more. If a phone call isn't going to work for you right now, zip them a quick email about what's going on with you.
    • Send your sibling(s) and email. Many students get so caught up in their lives in college that they forget to check in with their siblings. Take a moment or two to send along an update to your brother(s) and/or sister(s) -- you might be surprised at how much better doing so makes you feel.
    • Go hang out with other folks for a few minutes. Even if you're on a tight deadline and feel like you can't spare a few minutes -- you can. Spending a few minutes destressing with friends can do wonders for your productivity during the rest of the night.
    • Find some friends and have everyone give everyone else a quick massage. The power of a 3-minute neck and shoulder rub should never, ever be underestimated. Grab several folks, line up, and have everyone rub each other's shoulders for a few minutes. Added benefit: lots of giggles and inappropriate jokes.
    • Kiss your significant other. The power of human touch can do wonders for helping you destress. Grab your honey and enjoy a few minutes of lip-locking before getting back to what you have to do.
    • Look at the events happening on campus this weekend. If you're feeling overwhelmed with what you have to do between now and the weekend, looking at what options await you at the end of the tunnel can be a great way to destress. Check out an events calendar online or go for a quick walk and actually take the time to read the posters and flyers everyone puts up all over the place.
    • Make fun plans for the weekend. If taking a break from campus is what your brain needs, make some fun plans for the weekend. Check out a local city guide or call a friend to see what the scoop is.

    Fun Ways to Destress

    • Watch your favorite scene from your favorite movie on DVD. Chances are you have your favorite movie on DVD. What better moment to watch your favorite scene than when you're feeling overwhelmed and stressed out?
    • Watch your favorite scene from your favorite movie on YouTubeHulu, etc. Even if you don't own your favorite movie, chances are you can find it online somewhere. Treat yourself to some old-fashioned escapism and tune out for a few minutes.
    • Search for funny clips on YouTube. Things go viral so quickly that there's always new stuff to watch. Put yourself on a time limit and watch ridiculous things to your heart's content.
    • Create a new Pandora channel. If you really need to work, incorporate ways to destress into your process. Create a new Pandora channel that will energize and refocus you as you work.
    • Treat yourself to some new songs on iTunes. Buying a few songs for a few bucks can perk you up, give you something fun to look forward to, and let you feel happy instead of stressed -- both during and after your purchase.
    • Play around on Facebook. Of course, the key here is only to do so for a few minutes. Losing 30 minutes when you're stressed can sometimes add more fuel to the fire. But spending a few minutes poking around can be a great break for your brain.
    • Play around on Twitter. Even if you're new to Twitter, seeing what the buzz is at any point in time can be a fun diversion.
    • Play around on StumbleUpon. StumbleUpon can be enjoyable because it takes you to new sites you may never have heard of but that other users, with interests similar to yours, have recommended. It's a great way to surf the web and find new sites without getting lost in a ton of junk.
    • Play around on Flickr. If you're a visual person, looking at cool pictures of things that make you happy can be a nice uplift for your heart -- and a nice decrease for your blood pressure.
    • Read the national news headlines. Reading the national news can be a great break for your mind while also helping to keep you informed of current events. If you're really lucky, the headlines you read today can be used during a class conversation tomorrow.
    • Read the news headlines in your local town. You may be so busy living your college life that you don't know what current events are in your new local town. Find out a little more about your home-away-from-home by checking out the local paper online.
    • Read news headlines from your hometown. What better way to get out of your little stress bubble at school than to learn about the happenings back in your hometown? Even the ads for local restaurants you haven't thought about for months might cheer you up a bit.
    • Play around on a gossip website for a few minutes (like People). Catching up on the latest celebrity news can be entertaining and provide a fun few minutes of escape.
    • Catch up on the latest sports news. Most students spend so much time reading homework in college that skimming the latest from the sports world isn't really an option. Check out what's happening with your favorite team, favorite sport, or favorite athlete for a few minutes.