At the beginning of the semester, scheduling time in your life to unwind and de-stress may not be at the front of your mind. For me it was way in the back, thrown in a dark cupboard. I was not thinking about it at all. As the weeks went by, however, I found myself with more and more work to do. Last week, I ended up completely frazzled. I was tired, demotivated and I went to class everyday and all I could think about was that I wasn’t getting enough work done, that I should be spending time working on bigger projects and that I didn’t have time to waste.
Then I realised something. I was so focused on being productive that I didn’t have any downtime to give myself a break. I was four weeks into the semester and I already felt burnt out!
It’s incredible just how often this happens to students. It’s not necessarily a matter of having more work to do (though I know that as the semester carries on, the work piles up), but the stress that comes with the student life can be overwhelming. This is especially true if we don’t take steps to unwind and de-stress regularly. I touched on the importance of being able to unwind to improve your sleep, but it’s also a really important self-care technique to give your mind a break as well.
The great thing is that there a tonne of different things you can do to unwind and de-stress, and leave yourself feeling refreshed. It’s very natural to think “how can I spend time doing something that’s not related to school work?”, but even spending half an hour on a different activity can drastically change your mindset.
So, what can you do?
I’m starting with this one, because this is what helped me last week when I was feeling overwhelmed. Picking up a colouring book and some coloured pencils and just colouring was so meditative. There’s no pressure, there’s no right or wrong, and you can just focus on one thing. Even half an hour spent colouring in can give your mind a well-deserved break. The colouring in trend for adults has been around for a while now, which means there are heaps of free online colouring pages that you can print for free. Check out these free ones from Colouring Pages for Adults. You can also invest in a colouring book to keep in your room, so that you always have something to go to.
Any exercise can help you to unwind and de-stress. Not only does it focus your mind on something else, but it also provides great stress relief. Yoga is great for students, particularly because there a number of poses which relieve physical symptoms of stress and anxiety. It’s my go to exercise because it’s slow and calming, you can do it basically anywhere and everybody can do it. I mean, there’s a pose called easy pose! If you struggle to motivate yourself to exercise, it’s a perfect starter. The internet has heaps of resources for beginners, from pose pictures and tutorials to instructional youtube videos, so it’s super easy to begin.
Playing sports or going to the gym are also good ways to unwind. Even a peaceful 10 minute walk can do wonders for your stress levels, and the change in scenery provides a break from those textbooks!
Sometimes a distraction isn’t enough to take you mind off your worries. If you find yourself continuously worrying about work, school or anything else, journaling is a great way to get everything out. Putting your thoughts to paper is something you can do everyday and often it helps you to declutter your mind. It’s also a very therapeutic technique because it involves dealing with the events of the day. When you write everything down it’s easier to look at your thoughts as a whole. You might find that there are not so many things due as you thought, that it was silly to worry over something so small, or that solution you were looking for is right in front of you.
How can I unwind and de-stress when I have so much to do?
I know that sometimes not doing anything like what you should be doing can stress you out even more. My initial thoughts were always “I don’t have time to just sit here and do nothing! I need to do something productive!”. If you want to feel productive, and good way to unwind and de-stress is to plan and prepare.
Make a list of what you need to do. Make a plan for the week. Write down some goals. Don’t stop there though. When you do something like this, get creative with it. Add some colour, washi tape, draw a picture on it or write a quote that will inspire you. Writing down what you want to do can give you a plan that takes away some of the stress, but taking your time with it also helps to give your mind a break and shift your focus from your worries.
Spending a little time regularly to unwind and de-stress can help you to avoid burning out early in the semester. It reduces stress levels and gives you a clearer focus and a more motivated mindset. It’s so important for students to take care of themselves and I think that we forget that sometimes. Our mental well-being is so much more important than any assignment that’s due. Make sure you take care of yourself and do something for you!
These are just a few suggestions that you can use, if you have a great way to combat stress then I’d love to know about it! Leave a comment below!
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This article is based on my own research and experience and should not replace the advice of a medical professional.