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  • Julianne Cairns

Exam season: 9 ways to De-stress on a Student Budget

1. Reading

The last thing a student wants to do after weeks of flipping through pages of textbooks is pick up another book by their own free will, however, studies show this may be exactly what they should do. Studies performed by neuropsychologist Dr. David Lewis and reported by The Telegraph, indicate that reading is one of the fastest ways to distract the mind and allow the heart and muscles to relax. Just over five minutes of reading can reduce stress levels by sixty-eight percent, making it one of the most efficient (and cheap) ways to de-stress.

2. Creative Outlets – Drawing, sketching, writing

Art therapy and other creative outlets such as drawing, sketching and writing only require a pencil and paper, making it one of the cheaper methods for students on a budget to relieve anxiety. Art therapy is a method used in schools and rehabilitation centres across the world and is a great method for allowing the mind to wander from the stresses of student life.

3. Music

For many students, music is already an integral part of their lives. For the purpose of relaxing, however, blasting trap music may not be key. “Soothing” music doesn’t have to be limited to classical music or lullabies, in fact, there is a song called “Weightless” by Marconi Union engineered to reduce anxiety, leading to a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure.

4. DIY Spa Day – Korean face masks and eye masks

Spas can be expensive, especially in Montreal. A thrifty, but effective alternative is turning to your own kitchen for the spa experience. Perhaps not as luxurious, however, many simple spa treatments can be replicated at home. If you’re feeling fancy, the Face Shop sells Korean face masks for under five dollars. To reduce the dark circles that form under your eyes after an all-nighter. Apply chilled cucumber slices and coconut oil regularly, avoiding contact with the eyes, to achieve the “only-slightly-sleep-deprived” look.

5. Scents, candles, incense and essential oils

Most things that appeal to the senses can aid in relaxation, and your sense of smell is no exception. Try dabbing a few drops of lavender, eucalyptus, jasmine, or peppermint oil on your pillow to instantly transform your room into the ultimate relaxation environment. Scented candles and incense are also great and inexpensive ways to use your sense of smell to de-stress.

6. Physical activity – Exercise, sports, and stretching

One of the many benefits of physical activity is that it can relieve stress. Physical activity leads to the release of chemicals in the brain called endorphins. The release of endorphins results in better sleep, which is essential for keeping stress levels low.

7. Meditation – Free apps

Quieting your mind is harder than it looks. Luckily, there is a range of free apps, like Headspace, that offer guided meditation, giving college students a chance to forget what an “R-score” is, even if only for a few moments.

8. Connection

Humans are social creatures. Social connections promote mental health and ease loneliness, which can also reduce anxiety. Amidst all the studying and exam prep, don’t forget to stop once in while and reach out to friends or family for some face-to-face interactions.

9. Health – Mental and Physical; Sleep and Nutrition

No matter how many relaxing playlists you listen to, or how many cucumbers you apply, if you aren’t getting a full night’s sleep and proper nutrition, your anxiety levels will inevitably be harder to regulate. Ensuring proper levels of mental and physical health is the first step to promoting a less stressful lifestyle. Proper nutrition and adequate sleep are the fundamentals of a healthy mind and body. Try to steer clear of the artificially flavoured ramen for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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