Healthy coping mechanisms when the stress becomes too much

Brianna Erdman, Managing Editor ​

     Being a college student in the twenty-first century is difficult. Between class, projects, homework, social media, family and friends, it is easy to get caught up in a busy schedule and become overwhelmed. Along with taxes and buying a home for the first time, coping is one important lesson that wasn’t taught to many students preparing to continue their education at a secondary institution. While many individuals focus on the physical health of college students and the many factors that negatively impact it, not enough time is spent considering the mental health of students. While it is easy for young adults to turn to unhealthy habits to feel better, there are several other ways to cope that are healthy and productive. While the list of ways to unwind is endless, it is important to consider doing tasks that are productive and will be beneficial not only to your mental health, but also for your future self.

Grab a coloring book

     Coloring is a great way to unplug from everything and take a break. It is a productive activity that also allows you to spend time being creative. You can color while listening to music or as a way to unwind before heading to bed. There are several online articles that describe the mental benefits of relaxing with adult coloring books. Some benefits of adult coloring include better problem solving skills and exploring artistic style which is sometimes lacking in everyday activities. This inexpensive pastime is a great stress reliever used by many college students to pass time. If you don’t have a coloring book or the means to purchase one, a close activity related to coloring that is also used as a way to unwind is doodling. This activity can be done during study breaks, while eating a snack, or in between classes. When things seem to feel overwhelming due to school or work, coloring is a great way to clear your mind and unwind.


Take a yoga class

     This stress reliever is also a great way to get in shape. Many college gyms provide yoga classes during the week. This is also a great way to unplug from school, your cellphone, and a great way to be productive. While you can do this once or twice a week, improving at this skill can have lifelong health benefits as well. If you’re not interested in doing yoga, many gyms provide Zumba, kick boxing, or cycling classes as well. Being physically active is a great way to get your blood circulating and release endorphins in your brain. By unplugging from school or work to burn some calories, you may find tasks easier to approach when returning to them. Exercise is not only a great way to get in shape, it is also a healthy alternative to get rid of stress and take a break from activities that may cause you anxiety.

Clean out your closet
     Decluttering is another great way to rid yourself of the unwanted stress. As you release things you no longer care for, you’re allowing yourself to create space for new things. This is also a great way to give back. Consider taking clothes you no longer desire to keep in your closet, consider decluttering other areas of your room. Empty waste baskets, update your white board, or clean out your class folders. Decluttering is a great organization activity that allows you to sort your physical items as well as your thoughts and ideas. Declutter your brain by making lists or writing down things you’ve been meaning to look up or research but haven’t.

Make lists

     Sometimes the best way to de-stress is to declutter your thoughts. One clever way to sort out your ideas is to make lists. Some ideas include a to do list, a reading list, a homework list, a goal list, or a grocery list. While it may seem list an insignificant way to chill out, organizing your thoughts is a smart way to create stability. Making lists is a great way to declutter your ideas throughout the day. Consider making a list of books you’d like to read over summer break, songs you’d like to add to a new play-list, or articles you’d like to read relating to a class.

Read a book

     Reading is a great way to use your imagination and creativity as an adult. As a college student, it can get easy to feel like we’re reading because it’s assigned to us by professors. Ask friend to recommend a good book to read simply because you want to. This is also a good way to catch up on school work. While you may not want to do work as a way to unwind, checking off things from your to-do list is a great way to de-stress. The physical act of crossing something of the list may allow you to discover a piece of mind knowing that is one less thing you’ll need to do later. If you don’t have any 

reading assignments, there are several must read book lists that can be found online. One fun activity you can do in order to use this activity as a way to de-stress is to discover a book store near year. While Barnes and Nobles hold every best seller, some hole-in-the-wall bookstores have interesting unknown works waiting to be found. Grab a book, a cup of tea, and a comfortable place to sit and lose yourself in a great book.


Explore your neighborhood


     Go for a walk around your neighborhood during the day time. Not only will you benefit from unplugging yourself from technology, walking is also a great way to get exercise. You may discover a closer laundromat, a new restaurant to order dinner from, or a new store just blocks away from your apartment. From exploring my neighborhood, I discovered a park, a camera store, and coffee shop. While exploring, you may end up finding your new favorite place to study. Another benefit from exploring your neighborhood is the ability to be familiar with your surroundings. Consider taking a new route when walking home, you may end up discovering a hidden gem in your neighborhood. While exploring, it is important to be safe and aware of your surroundings. Use this time to disconnect from work or school responsibilities and enjoy yourself. Allow your mind to wander as you do and enjoy the relaxation time while getting exercise.


Listen to music

     Listening to music is a great way to get you mind off things that may be causing stress in your life. Use this time to explore new bands and genres of music. You may also create a specific play-list to listen to during times you feel stressed, unmotivated, or overwhelmed with work. Phone applications such as Spotify and Pandora have pre-made stations with calming music that you can listen to on the go. Some places you could listen to music when you need to unwind include shower time, on your commute home from work, or while you’re cooking breakfast or dinner. Studies have shown the connection between listening to calming music and the physical relaxation of the human body. Listening to music for at least ten minutes a day can not only change your mood, but help you to unwind and relax as well.


     Some things to avoid when coping with stress are: sleeping all day which causes restlessness and creates the inability to be productive. Binge watching television shows is another bad habit to stay away from because it limits the opportunities to be productive unless done somewhere like the gym. And avoid emotional eating as best as you can because it is easy to distract yourself from stressful moments with food even when you are not actually hungry. It is also important to surround yourself with positive people that continue to motivate you and help you make healthy coping decisions. The next time you feel overwhelmed or have down time to focus on your mental health, consider performing one of these activities and allow yourself to unwind and relax.