De-stressing On A Time Budget
With exams and deadlines looming, this time of year can be very stressful and busy. April is Stress Awareness Month, and to help you take a step back from your studies and find some stillness this semester we’ve put together a list of some de-stressing ideas, especially for if you’re short on time. If you want to find out more about the signs of stress and how to deal with stress at university you can check out our blogs here – Part One: Signs of Stress, Part Two: Dealing with Stress. You can also find out more about stress on the NHS website.
If you have 5 minutes you could…
Meditate. Practicing meditation regularly has been shown to be an effective way to relieve stress. A body scan mindfulness meditation grounds us by bringing attention to our bodies and how they feel in that moment, and helps us get out of our heads a bit (especially useful if you’ve been studying at a desk or computer for ages!) Youtube has a lot of guided meditations, or you could download an app like Calm or Headspace. Here’s a 5 minute guided body scan you could try: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5OzLizZCrc
Do a breathing exercise. Again, you can find a wealth of these on the internet but the NHS has produced one specifically for stress – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/ways-relieve-stress/
Text a friend and tell them you’re struggling. This can be a tricky one, especially if you’re not someone who relies on others easily, but it’s so important to let the people who care about us know how we are and what’s going on. You don’t even necessarily need to ask for help – sometimes just knowing that you’re not alone in how you’re feeling can do wonders.
Have a quick dance recess. Expend some pent up energy and go wild on the dance* floor (*Living room)
List a couple of things that you’re thankful for or good things that have happened recently. It sounds cliche but practicing gratitutde and focusing on some recent positive memories can remind us that everything isn’t as bad as it seems.
Sign up for Blurt emails. Blurt are an excellent internet based social enterprise that promote good mental wellbeing through a mix of encouraging emails, blogs and resources. You can sign up for their emails and check out their resources here – https://www.blurtitout.org/resources/
Pet an animal (If there’s one nearby that’s happy to oblige!)
Make a to do list. Bring a touch of organisation to an otherwise chaotic mind and stop yourself from going over and over everything that needs to be done. Once it’s written down it can easier to think about a plan of action.
Do a grounding exercise. Name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. This is a great excercise if you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed or spaced out.
Find a meme that makes you happy and share it with a friend. Memes make everything better. Wholesome Memes on Facebook is a good place to start!
If you have 20 minutes you could…
Light a few candles and sit quietly with your thoughts. Let your thoughts pass through your mind without trying to control or analyse them.
Go for a walk. Walking in a green space is wonderful if possible, but even a short walk around the block could help get you out of the house and give your mind a chance to unwind.
Write down all of your worries. This is a good way to recognise any anxious or worried thoughts you might be having and also get them out of your head. Once you’ve written them down give them to God one by one, or visualise letting them go one at a time. Physically dispose of the paper as a symbol of you letting them go.
Make a nice tea or other hot beverage of your choice. Take 20 mins to enjoy a cuppa and just be.
Pray the Examen. The Examen is a “method of reviewing the day in the presence of God”; it’s rooted in mindfulness and reflection and is a really helpful way to take stockand give the day into God’s hands, then look forward to what’s to come and ask for God’s wisdom and blessing. You can find a helpful guide here: https://www.loyolapress.com/our-catholic-faith/ignatian-spirituality/examen-and-ignatian-prayer/how-can-i-pray-try-the-daily-examen and a prayer card to download here: https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/19076/examen-prayer-card
Listen to a calming playlist. We’ve created one for you! You can find it on Spotify – “Stress-Cancelling Movement” Playlist
Write a blog or diary post. Share it with someone or keep it personal, it’s up to you. Another good way to get your thoughts out of your head and stop them from becoming overwhelming.
Make a plan to go out and do something you enjoy. It’s important to make time for the things you enjoy whilst studying for exams or working on deadlines. Give yourself a well deserved break and something to look forward to!
Do one thing from your to do list. Wash up 5 items, make your bed, empty the bins; do something that is easy to achieve where you can see a real difference immediately. This will leave you feeling accomplished and motivated.
Read the Bible. You could follow a daily pattern like a Bible in One Year plan, or find a story you know and love to re-read.
If you have an hour you could…
Take a nice relaxing bath. Bubbles and candles are optional but highly encouraged!
Meet up with a friend to chat and have a coffee.
Do a craft activity like colouring or knitting. The repetitive nature of these crafts can be really soothing, and you also end up with a physical product which can help with feeling like you’ve achieved something.
Exercise. Any excercise is good and helpful for relieving stress, but for a more mindful session why not try pilates, yoga or swimming?
Cook a healthy balanced meal. This can be a tricky one to fit in, especially if you’re tired or low on cash but it’s really important to eat well as this can have a huge impact on how we feel.
Read a book. Not course related!
Research a new hobby. Join a choir or book group, or get involved with a new SU society.
Write a letter to a friend, family member, or just to yourself.
Go to the library, a museum, or Cathedral.
Sort through your clothes and give something away to a charity shop. Mindful, ethical and gives you more space in your wardrobe!
DISCLAIMER: These de-stressing ideas are primarily aimed at people who are experiencing mild symptoms of stress due to a specific reason, such as exams or university deadlines. If you’re struggling with chronic or severe stress, anxiety, depression or another mental or phyiscal health condition in relation to stress please contact your G.P. or talk to a friend or trusted family member. The Samaritans helpline is also available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for people who want to talk in confidence. Call 116 123 (free).
Check out our Stress Awareness Month series –
Part Two: Dealing with Stress.