Now that the stress of exams is finally over, it’s time for life to get back to normal.
Here’s the thing, though: relaxing is not always as easy as is sounds. After a long period of sustained pressure, many people find it hard to simply switch off.
That’s why we’ve put together six great ways to help you chill out on a student budget.
It’s one of the best stress-relief activities out there. A winning combination of aerobic exercise, calming natural settings and the freedom to clear your mind for hours on end make hiking good for the mind, body and spirit.
Just make sure you have a First Aid Kit, water supply and a mobile phone with good reception before you set off. Being prepared for any eventuality is another great way to keep stress levels down.
Take up a new art or craft hobby
Art and craft encourages creativity and self-expression, which is known to minimise anxiety, reduce stress and improve self-esteem. The simple act of drawing or colouring allows us to wash away the stress and focus on the present moment. What’s more, the creation of something beautiful (even if you’re no Picasso) can be very soothing for the soul.
Take a hot bath
One of the simplest ways to soak away your stress is to take a hot bath. The heat initially raises your heart rate and temperature, which makes you perspire – allowing your body to rid itself of toxins. Then, as your blood vessels dilate and increase circulation, your blood pressure lowers and you feel more relaxed. No wonder they say a good bath cleanses both your body and spirit.
Go for a run outdoors
If you’re stressed, your body has to ramp up to deal with whatever triggered it. Over time, this can weaken your immune system. Arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and ageing can all be the result of chronic stress.
That’s where running comes in. Not only does it help you feel happier because you’re in better shape, running also releases feel-good endorphins. And when you add the psychological benefits of having time alone with your thoughts in the fresh air, it’s a no-brainer: running is one of the best ways to look after yourself.
Hang out or chit chat with friends
It’s not just about having a shoulder to cry on. Having friends is known to keep you healthier and help you deal with stress better. Friends are a much-needed support system to help relieve some of the pent-up feelings that lead to stress – such as frustration, anger and anxiety.
If you’re being social, you’re far more likely to be laughing, exercising or doing the things you enjoy. So if you’re feeling stressed, go hang out with your BFF!
Healthy body, healthy mind. When we’re stressed, we tend to reach for comfort foods that just make things worse. High in fat, they make us feel lethargic and less able to deal with stress. A low-fat, high fibre diet with plenty of fruit and veg will stimulate the brain to produce serotonin – a hormone that relaxes us – as well as provide plenty of stress-busting antioxidants.
Some of the best ‘superfoods’ for stress relief include leafy greens, oats, salmon, blueberries, seeds, cashew nuts, avocado and – you’ll like this – dark chocolate.
So go for a run with friends, enjoy a chat over a healthy lunch, then treat yourself to a hot bath and a chunk of dark chocolate. You’ll be feeling chilled in no time!