It is the beginning of semester two and the pressure is on to start preparing for assignments. Coming back to intense work can be hard after a relaxing long break and it can be stressful for students when every second counts. Here are some ways that students can calm their nerves and get back on track:
- Breathe – Breathing exercises are very common among stress and anxiety relieving techniques. Watch videos or buy a book on different breathing exercises and find which ones work for you. Practising mindfulness relaxes the brain and the body, so not only do you feel mentally calm but your muscles feel less tense as well. Another good thing is that breathing exercises can be practised anywhere, so if you start feeling stressed in public then no one will see or hear you calming down. Sit yourself on your bed, get comfy, close your eyes and focus on your breathing, even have the mindfulness video playing in the background.
- Bath – According to an article by The Healthline, a warm bath can “lower your blood pressure”. It is also the chance to get out of the stressful environment and do some retail therapy. Get a couple of bath bombs and some bubble bath, preferably lavender scented to help with its calming effect. If you don’t have a bath in your student housing/accommodation, try shower bombs or shower salts.
- Read – This will help if you need a bit of escapism. Read a fantasy book and get taken away to a different world and live it through someone else’s perspective. Try and read an autobiography and escape to someone else’s life for an hour or two. Maybe even a self-help book on how to cope with stress and see if it helps. Dedicate an hour or two at night to read a couple of chapters, read slowly and take in the words on the page, instead of spending your nights on technology.
- Talk – Do this over either a call, a facetime, or in person as talking about things is important. Bottling up your emotions is very dangerous to your mental and emotional health. Open up to your family, a friend or someone really close to you as you may feel more comfortable speaking to them. However, if that is not the case for you, some people find it easier to talk to a stranger. So, call a mental health support line and speak to them, that is what they are there for.
- Go for a walk – Only when it is safe to do so, when there is still light in the day, talk a slow walk in a green area. The smell of fresh greenery and plants may act like a natural incense. I find that the natural surroundings relieve stress as there is no human influence with nature, so there is nothing that reminds me of the stress I am going through. The change of scenery takes you away from the place that you associate with stress and may be a good place to evaluate the problem. Walking is also exercising, which you may release all the stress through the energy you put into moving.
- Music – Classical or slow music are good genres of music to have playing in the background while you are trying to de-stress as they will not increase your heart rate like fast, club-like music would. Increasing your blood pressure will only make the feeling of stress last longer and you may not be able to calm down. Studies have shown that classical music helps turn off the brain, thus proving it has a calming effect. Try listening to it on a low volume whilst doing whatever you need to do, not too loud so it’s not a distraction or causes more stress.
- Natural sounds – Like a thunderstorm, wind, waves or rain. Playlists of natural sound exist on Spotify or there is hours long clips of the sound on YouTube. These are really popular as people use them to fall asleep to, so if they can relax the body to go to sleep, they can help your body relax from stress. However, do not force yourself to listen to sounds that may cause you more stress. For example, if you have a fear or storms then do not listen to the thunderstorm sound, if you have a fear of open water then do not listen to the waves sound.
- Write stuff down – Whenever you feel like you have too many emotions bottled up inside, write them down. Keeping your feelings documented will give you the feeling like you are talking to someone and you will feel like you have released all the pent up emotions. Go have some retail therapy and pick a really pretty diary or notepad to use, a comforting image on the front (i.e. a cute animal). Even better idea, buy a personalised one online in which you can decorate with personal photos. Something to make you laugh or smile when you go to use it.
- Meditate – Treat yourself to some yoga clothes and a cute mat to do meditation on. Then look at some videos on how to meditate, there can be some funny ones out there that will cheer you up. This technique can help clear your mind and get rid of all those negative thoughts that plague the mind.
- Comfort food – Chocolate makes your body produce endorphins, which makes you feel happy. It doesn’t have to be chocolate, any food that you like, eat! However, a long-term solution would be to clean up your eating habits and start buying healthier foods. Whatever you do, just make sure you eat and do not let stress make you skip meals or stop eating.
- Pets – Stroking your pet can lower your blood pressure and calm you down. Lay down with your pet, laying down relaxes your muscles and brain, that’s how you get sleepy and tired when you go to bed. If you do not have someone, see if you can facetime the family pet or one of your friends. Animals can create serotonin in the body, which makes a person calm and feel good, so even if you can’t see one in person, try facetiming on or even watching videos.
Hopefully, some of these are useful to you and have worked to help you destress.