As midterms quickly approach, it is common to encounter college students in their most pathetic form: living in the library surrounded by textbooks, color-coordinated study guides, incomplete checklists, cold coffee, and—with nothing more to lose—dressed in their pajamas.
In the spring of 2009, The Associated Press and MTV conducted a survey from over 40 colleges throughout the United States on a college stress and mental health poll. At this time, it was reported that 85 percent of students feel stressed on a daily basis.
Rita Landino of PsychCentral says, “Stress is an individualized response to the demand for change. On a college campus, you are continually bombarded with demands to change—your behavior, academic performance, career or major choice and values.”
Since humans are so individualized in our likes, dislikes, habits and lifestyles, we all respond to and cope with stress differently. As long as our coping mechanism does not bring harm to the individual or others, who is really to judge whether or not it works?
The most common ways to de-stress include laughing, creatively making something and distracting oneself by doing an activity that requires one’s full attention. Everyone interprets these methods differently.
For example, Miranda Gue is part of the Northern Arizona University transfer program at Paradise Valley Community College and is majoring in special and elementary education. She relaxes by watching horror movies and crime TV shows. As she puts it, “At least my life isn’t as bad as what I’m watching on TV.”
Gue’s go-to horror movies include “Cabin in the Woods” (Joss Whedon, 2012), “Smiley” (Michael J. Gallagher, 2012) or if she is lacking time to watch full-length movies, she also likes the TV show, “Criminal Minds.”
“I remember asking my mom what helped her deal with stress in college when I first started college classes in 2010 and she said she read Stephen King books. I tried that, then moved on to watching the movie adaptations, then other horror which helped more. I [can]be fully immersed into the world,” Gue says.
It’s a common theme for stressed out individuals to want to detach from society and plug into something else that doesn’t require complicated thinking. Chris Culpepper is a current student at NAU majoring in supply chain management/logistics. His mode of transportation and method of relaxation involve riding his 2006 Suzuki sv650 motorcycle. This form of release has a thrill seeking approach which can force the individual to forget what they were worrying about in the first place.
“Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, especially in Arizona. So it forces me to clear my mind and focus on riding my motorcycle. By the time I am done with my ride, my mind is cleared and I’m able to tackle my school work without anything else getting in the way,” Culpepper says.
As a broadcast journalism major at Arizona State University, Alexis Kuhbander escapes from her college work by making trips to As You Wish, a pottery painting studio. Kuhbander has used As You Wish as a place of relaxation since her parents got a divorce and has continued to make a hobby out of painting pottery through college.
“I stress out about the time I have to do assignments. I look at my planner, talk to myself, and write out to-do lists more than twice a day just to keep track of the time that I have to put towards school. By painting pottery at As You Wish, I feel like the world [is]silenced and I am not on a time limit. Although the store closes at a certain time, the piece I’m completing doesn’t have directions or a set of rules…I can simply spend as much time decorating or doing whatever I want to the piece of pottery and not feel like I am doing a horrible job,” Kuhbander says.
In a poll, conducted by College Times, many students explained that they go for a run, hike or settle for some yoga poses when they are feeling anxious about college. But one unique student studying psychology at Phoenix College, Bryce Hustad, prefers to handle his stress with full force in the art of Brazilian jiu jitsu. This form of martial arts focuses on grappling and ground fighting while also emphasizing on building inner strength.
“Jiu jitsu [is]a very physical sport that requires a great amount mental focus as well. You have to think two, three and four moves ahead in order to be successful in the sport. You are focusing on your breathing, where your arms are in relation to danger…So you don’t have a whole lot of time to think about any other issues going on in your life…” Hustad says.
If these ideas don’t appeal to you, here are some science-backed and simple ways to ease your inner tension:
• Chew a piece of gum. It will make you breath better and physically gives you something to work your stress out on.
• Close your email. Scientists at the University of British Columbia have found that checking your email less frequently can reduce your stress levels.
• Naam yoga hand trick. Applying pressure to the space between your second and third knuckle (the joints at the base of your pointer and middle fingers) can help create a sense of instant calm, according to Sharon Melnick, author of “Success Under Stress.”
• See your best friend. But try not to talk about the anxiety in your lives creating a conversation of negativity.
It is imperative that college students find a relaxing outlet for when they are not working on their schoolwork. There is no “one size fits all” formula when it comes to relaxing. However you choose to cope with the intensity of college and everyday struggles that come with life, do so in a healthy way. It’s all about that R&R.