Stress is a serious problem for many people, especially in college. Whether you’re in the library panicking about tomorrow’s midterm or just overwhelmed by your crazy class schedule, these simple tips are a great way to relax no matter what situation you’re in.

Breathing exercises

Slowing your breathing is a great way to relieve stress or anxiety. Breathing slower can lower your heart rate and calm your body down. Here are a few exercises that you can do without anyone even noticing.

Square breaths

  1. Breathe in for four seconds
  2. Hold the breath for four seconds
  3. Breathe out for four seconds
  4. Hold for four seconds
  5. Repeat as needed

Count your breaths

  1. Breathe in and count to one
  2. Breathe out and count to two
  3. Repeat, with each breath being a new number until you reach five
  4. Repeat as needed

Lavender

You can buy a small bottle of lavender essential oil from your local health foods market and carry it around in your pocket or a purse. Each time you are feeling stressed, stir in one drop of the oil into a glass of water and drink it. You can also apply the oil directly to your skin and the soothing smell itself may be enough to relax you. Essential oils often come with instructions, so refer to your own oils for more specific usage details.  

Distract yourself

If you can find something to occupy your attention, you will be less focused on whatever is distracting you. For example, you can plan a hypothetical road trip. Where do you want to go? Think through all of your options. Once you decide on a destination, what do you need to pack? Write out all the items on your imaginary packing list. When you are no longer paying attention to whatever is causing you stress, the anxious feelings may subside.

Exercise

Every article about stress relief inevitably suggests exercising, but that’s because it really does work. Exercise releases endorphins into the brain and help you feel happy. Most of us may not like exercising, but it’s important for our mental and emotional well-being.

Comment your favorite stress relief tips in the comment section below!

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I am from Elon, NC and am a junior at the University of National Champions – I mean, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. When I’m not napping on any available flat surface on campus, I love reading, traveling and going to concerts. I’ve been lucky enough to go to Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, England, Barcelona, and more. My concert history ranges from Paul McCartney (he's still got it!), to Jack Gibbons playing Chopin, and even to Ludacris. I’ve spent my time at college working for The Daily Tar Heel and the majority of my writing career has involved my editors trying to prevent me from adding bad puns to my headlines. Whenever I’m not writing for Around Campus this summer, you can probably find me at Sup Dogs eating a tray of cheesy tots.

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