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Feb 06 2018
by Caroline Mulvaney

6 Productive Activities to Relieve Stress

By Caroline Mulvaney - Feb 06 2018
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For many college students, stress is something we accept as an everyday experience. We stress over assignments and deadlines, grades and homesickness. However, just because stress is normal doesn't mean it's good. It's important that you take some time to relax and focus on your mental health. This doesn't have to mean spending hours on a Netflix binge (which will often create more stress as you think about all the studying you should have been doing). Instead, here's a list of activities that will help you relieve some stress without feeling like you've wasted time better spent hitting the books. 

1. Exercise

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I know, it's the one everyone hates to hear but keeps repeating itself. However, exercise doesn't have to be restricted to shutting yourself away in a dark gym that smells like metal and sweat. Instead, it can mean going on a hike with your friends or joining an intramural sports team for a sport that you enjoy. A lot of college towns also have studios that offer fun exercise classes like yoga and kickboxing, and you can often get a student discount. As long as you're getting some fresh air and producing even just a handful of endorphins, the stress relief will come. 

2. Take a Hot Shower/Bath

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You take time out of your day to do this anyway, so you may as well turn your personal hygiene routine into a relaxing experience. Hot water relaxes the muscles and acts as a natural sedative to help you release some of that tension that you've been building up all day. And if you really want to take your nasty dormitory showers up a notch, you could add a scented oil like lavender to turn it into your own DIY spa. 

3. Read a Book

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Books are great stress-relieving tools for several reasons. First of all, they can transport you away from your anxieties and bring you anywhere in the world. You can do magic, fall in love or go on some incredible adventure, all without leaving the comfort of your cozy reading nook. Reading also gives your eyes a much-needed break from staring at a screen all day. Computer and phone screens can strain your eyes and give you a headache, which isn't the best way to feel relaxed or productive. 

4. Socialize

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Take an hour out of your day to grab coffee with a friend or run some errands together (yay for multitasking). Friends are the ideal outlet for venting about everything that is stressing you or worrying you. Even if they can't offer any useful advice, they can offer comfort and support, and it's never a good idea to hold all of your emotions bottled up inside. If you know it won't be a distraction, you could even do your homework or study with all of your friends. It's a great way to turn a stressful experience into a positive one. 

5. Get Organized

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This activity is one that might not work for everyone, so just be aware. However, for those of you who enjoy making lists and color-coded notes, organizing your life is a great way to feel in control and relieve some stress. Break intimidating projects down into individual tasks and plan ahead to be fully prepared for any assignments or tests that are coming up. Tidying up your room and study space is another way to get some very "I know what I'm doing" vibes in your life. 

6. Hobbies

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The hobby could be one that you've lost touch of since coming to college or a new one that you've always wanted to try. Doing something creative is often the best way to feel like you've achieved something with your time. Follow along with a Bob Ross video, or watch a YouTube tutorial or two on knitting or cross-stitching. You could even go one step further and join a club on campus that's centered around the hobby. 

The things we stress over are important and usually worth stressing over. Just make sure you also keep in mind how important it is to take care of yourself. If you let too much stress build up, you'll fizzle out and hit rock bottom. There's nothing wrong or unproductive about taking some time to make yourself feel a little more relaxed. 

Lead Image Credit: Unsplash

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Caroline Mulvaney - Georgetown University

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