If it hasn’t begun for you already, the spring semester is going to start very soon. I hope your winter break has been very relaxing; I know mine has provided me with some much needed stress relief. Even though I don’t go back to school for another week, I’m starting to get a little worried about how I’ll transition back into the stress of school. Because of this, I figured some of you could also benefit from a relaxation guide.
I hope that the suggestions in this blog post can help you build healthy and happy habits that will allow you to keep relaxing even after winter break is over.
1. Schedule time for relaxing
Whether or not you are as planner-obsessed as I am, if you’re in college you have some kind of schedule. You make time for class, studying, work, and extracurriculars but do you make time for relaxation?
My goal this semester is to turn relaxation into an extracurricular. In the past I haven’t done this, and as a result I’ve just worked and worked at all my other activities until I got burned out and had to take a couple of days off. This is obviously not a healthy way to live but as the type-A perfectionist I am, the only way I’m going to change this habit is if I schedule in time to devote specifically to relaxing and I suggest you do the same. Keep yourself accountable by deciding how much relaxation time you need per week. Write it down. Commit to it. Whether it’s an entire day on the weekend or 1 hour before bed every night, it’s important to have dedicated time so you don’t forget about the importance of relaxation for your mental, physical, and emotional health.
If I don’t write something in my planner, I’m not going to commit to it. I highly recommend writing down your relaxation schedule if you want to really commit to making it a part of your life.
I’ve loved writing my whole life so journaling is a natural extension of this. However, even if you hate writing, journaling can still be for you. I keep a gratitude journal where I write daily affirmations, things I’m grateful for, and positive things that happened each day. I also keep a diary where I write about the events of my week each Sunday.
These journals help me to stay positive and to get in touch with my thoughts and emotions. In addition to this, the simple act of writing before bed is repetitive and soothing, inviting relaxation and helping me sleep better. In the long term, being able to unload my feelings each day helps me stay relaxed because those emotions are on paper instead of bottled up inside me.
This is probably one of the most commonly given pieces of advice when it comes to relaxation, but also one that turns people off. I have to admit, I was very skeptical of this advice at first because when I pictured meditation I pictured Buddhist monks high on a mountain. Nevertheless, I gave it a try and found that meditation can actually be for everyone!
I love the website Calm.com and its accompanying app. Calm makes meditation really accessible by offering guided meditations at varying lengths, ranging from 2 to 20 minutes. Even if you think that meditation isn’t for you, I suggest giving just a 5 minute guided meditation a try. It’s relaxing and a great way to take a break and reduce stress between classes.
4. Get outside
People from older generations will often decry the tendency of “millennials” and “kids these days” to sit in front of screens rather than go outside, but from what I’ve seen, college kids love to go outside and so many colleges provide awesome outdoor opportunities. Take advantage of some of these to help you destress and relax.
Whether it’s rock climbing, kayaking, hiking, climbing trees, or just going for a walk around lunch time, getting fresh air and surrounding yourself with nature can help put your problems into perspective and improve your physical and mental health.
5. Find your perfect “me time”
Introverts like me are already aware of their need for time to themselves, but even extroverts need “me time” every once in a while. Because everybody is different, the activities that will be most relaxing to indulge in will be different for everybody as well.
Personally, when I want to really relax, I like painting or coloring while listening to some ambient music. (I like to play Roger Winfield’s Aeolian Harps and the sound of rain on a tent simultaneously). Other people love taking a bubble bath, reading, or watching movies. Whatever activity you choose, make sure it makes you feel happy and relaxed and that you make time for your “me time” every week because you deserve it!
There’s no magic key to staying relaxed in the face of the stress that naturally comes with college, but turning these 5 suggestions into habits can help abate some of that stress. How do you try to stay relaxed during a stressful day, week, or semester?