As a college student, 20 year-old, a woman, and simply just human, I suffer from mental health problems. With that I am always finding myself different ways to calm down, relax and take the chill pill. I went through a few therapy sessions when I was younger and I didn't like that experience at all, so instead, I have gone through trials and tribulations of different ways that I can deal with my stress, anxiety and depression. These ways are cheap (because I am a broke college student), fun, and healthy.
These examples of ways to destress are just ways that I have found to help me, I am not a doctor, all I can say is that these help me and they may help you as well, but everyone is different so it may not have the same effect on you as it does for me.
Listen to Music- Honestly, any type of music helps. I have many playlists that I listen to that consist of many different genres and reasons. I have a playlist that I will belt my lungs out to, that I listen and sing to by myself because I don't have the most amazing voice. I also have playlists that I listen to during work, when I am cleaning, walking to class, cooking, cleaning, and dance to. I will have my playlists listed on a different post that can be available for download and to listen to.
Long Walks- Walking is so therapeutic for me, oh my gosh. I could walk for hours and hours if I wanted to. My longest walk that I tracked was a 3.6 mile walk that took 1 hour to complete. I find it better and calmer to be outside in nature, breathing in the fresh air, and going to destinations. During the winter time, I will walk on a treadmill, but I don't see the same effect on a treadmill then I do when I take laps around my college campus when it is sunny and 75 degrees or 64 degrees and raining. On certain days, walking in the rain seems crazy because then your clothes, hair and shoes get wet, but the rain feels so nice especially when you can feel every drop hit your head and shoulders. One of my favorite times to walk is obviously when it is sunny and shining, but also if it is sunset and dark. There will always be the factor that it is unsafe to walk outside in the dark, but every step you take feels rewarding in so many ways, not to mention you are burning fats and calories when you walk and hydrate.
Dancing- I have been dancing my entire life, Irish dancing has been a stress reliever for me since day 1, but that isn't the dancing I am talking about. I like to learn dances from movies and then dress up and perform them for myself. Just the fact of taking time out of a stressful day to watch a movie and find a dance to learn, feels good. I recently learned the dance to "Fake ID" by Big & Rich from the 2011 film, Footloose, and now I can say that if someone puts me in a dance battle or circle, I can bust the choreography out and bust a move. Another way to destress with dance, is play a bumping song that you can jump around to and pump your fist to. Or if you have just dance, plug that in and dance to anything your heart desires, it is fun I promise and if you do it so much like I do, you will memorize the choreo. If someone plays "Adore You", by Harry Styles, I will perform the choreography from Just Dance 2021 for all to see.
Working Out- This ties into walking, but also going for a run, playing a sport for fun, really anything. When I go to the gym on my campus, I follow a routine (or at least I try to). My routine for the gym is I stretch everything out for 10 mins, after that I do a 15 minute walk on the treadmill at a speed of 3.0 and at a 12.0 incline. After that I will do a 2- minute plank where I start off with straight arms for 1 minute, then I go down to my forearms for the remaining minute. Then I will pick up 2 dumb bells and do a set of bicep curls, shoulder presses, lateral raise, and front raise following the decrease lifts as 30-20-10 with a minute resting period in between. After I am done with arms I will work on my core by doing 50 crunches, mainly because my core isn't strong enough to do a full sit up. When I am done with those, I move on to any open machines that are in the gym. There is such a variety of them, I choose which ever is open. After that, I will go to the hip abduction machine and rep 20-15-10-5 at the decreasing level, as the rep decreases the weight increases. When I am done with that, I will go back to the floor and stretch again, it gives me an excuse to sit down, but I work on my flexibility and my splits. Then I will end my work out by doing a 30 minute walk on the treadmill with light jogging in the middle. Now this routine isn't for everyone and it is also unorganized, but I find that it helps to have some type of routine that you can stick to. I try to get to the gym 2 times a week, or minimum once a week. Finding a routine is so helpful because it helps to organize yourself.
Reading- I am not a big reader, like at all, but one in a while I will sit down and pull out a book I am reading. Currently, I am reading The Rural Diaries by Hilarie Burton Morgan. I am a fan of her from her role on One Tree Hill and also her holiday movies. Finding a good book to read, and especially one that keeps you interested continuously can be difficult. All I did was combine some of my favorites and it lead me to this book. Advice that I can give another non-reader like me is when you are looking for a book, think about some things you like, a type of flower, television show, actress, season, anything really, and do a general search on Google, and I bet that book will show up. When you begin to read it, go somewhere quiet and bright enough to see the pages, read through the first chapter and take a few notes on what you liked about it. When you go on to read the next chapter, look for another thing that you liked about that one, then as you read the rest of the chapters, take note of one thing that you liked about it, and at the end collect the data and that will help you find a new book. That tactic may not work for everyone either, but when you read, take a mental note of something important.
Driving- This isn't exactly a cheap solution, or even environmentally great solution, but honestly this helps. Over the summer, I took my first road trip by myself and I felt so good about it. Obviously, in order to use driving as a way to ease yourself, you have to be comfortable about your driving skills. When I do go out driving, I pick a nice playlist to listen to, depending on the weather I will roll down the windows, a good drink next to me, non-alcoholic of course, and I pick some where to go and take my time getting there. When I do this, I am not speeding, and if there is a yellow light, I am not trying to beat it, I slow down and come to a full complete stop calmly. Also, when you are listening to music, don't be afraid. There have been times when I am driving and a really awesome song comes on and all I do is let my freak flag fly, it feels so good because all of that negative and bad energy is just coming out of you.
Meditation- This could be as easy as, taking a deep breath the moment you wake up. If it is nice outside, grab a blanket or a towel, lay it out on the grass, sit down, close your eyes and do box breathing. If you don't know what box breathing is, it is inhale for 4 beats, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, then repeat steps 1-3 when you feel calmer and more centered. Another way to meditate, is you can go to YouTube and search for Headspace, or use the app, and find a video to listen to and follow. Being able to breathe and take at least a second out of the day for yourself is so helpful and so beneficial to not just your mental health but also your physical health. Breathing manually will help you control it when you are working out and help you save more. It also helps if you are having a panic or anxiety attack, you can try to remember to close your eyes and breathe in deep, hold it, then blow it all out. Think mind, body, and soul.
Journaling- Now it could just be me because I am studying to be a journalist, but keeping a journal is very helpful. Writing is a physical release where you can write down every single feeling that you have and at a later date, you can reread it. Or what I have done is I kept a journal during the COVID pandemic when I was finishing high school, and I wrote down how I was feeling after everyday. When I finished high school, I finished writing in the journal, now I keep it somewhere so when I finish college, I can read about everything I did to every feeling that I had. personally, that felt like more of a job than it was a hobby or a way to destress, but I did see improvement on my attitude and my everyday mood. I also use my major of journalism as a way to destress, sometimes when I write an article it is for a class assignment it was a bit stressful, but it felt amazing because the words just flow so easily, it also helps when you have a ton of information. Honestly, any type of writing is peaceful, even if the topic is violent, its the just the principle of writing and using your words to express your thoughts can be so powerful. Write a book if you have to, its fun! ;)
Cleaning- This is also not exactly a cheap idea, but stress cleaning can be so impactful, it will make you less crazy! When I started college, one of my first purchases was a Swiffer mop kit, it came with a mop, mop heads, and dry mop heads to sweep with. I also brought a hand held vacuum with me too. This year, I have found myself cleaning my floor, counter, desk, closet, and bed so often, but I can never actually keep my desk organized. When I clean I use an all natural multipurpose cleaner and old cloths that can be washed. I think using environmentally safe products helps me clean because I also feel like I am keeping the world clean, because afterwards, I recycle anything and everything that can. One of the favorite things I like to say to people that I live with, is that I come with a Swiffer and vacuum, I think it is funny to say. Cleaning can also go into personal hygiene, and taking care of you body. I know that a nice hot shower can help, but I think it helps more when you properly clean yourself. I see it as you are cleaning the stress off of your body and shampooing and conditioning the toxic thoughts out of your mind and then down the drain it goes. Even a nice skin and hair care routine afterwards is nice to know that you are thinking about healthy skin, healthy hair and a healthy mind.
Cooking- So this isn't a cheap idea either, but oh my gosh, I love cooking so much. This could also be baking too, but cooking is so fun! Being able to follow directions and a recipe to have a finished product that is so yummy is so fulfilling. Personally, I love cooking salmon and veggies. When I want to cook, I will search up recipes for a certain food like salmon, chicken, or a specific vegetable, and I will pick a recipe that seems interesting, challenging, and also good to eat, and I will make it for myself and also a family member, usually it is my parents. Cooking will help you with organization and take your mind off of what is going around you so you can focus on the food that is in front of you.
I hope that you all consider these and try them out because I have definitely seen a difference in myself after doing each of these on a stressful day. Keep your mind open and I hope you can even find a new outlet to put your stress and anxiety on.
~Stay groovy my dudes!