No one wants to think about it just yet, but that magical time of year is just around the corner. Final exams are close at hand. But while you’re attempting to cram all 40 chapters of a textbook, simultaneously drinking an entire pot of coffee and eating an ungodly amount of ramen noodles, it’s important to remember self-care.
Sometimes, you just need to pick your head up from your studies, clear your head and manage your stress levels. It can be – somewhat counter-intuitively – just as important to your academic success to de-stress than to doggedly study.
So how do you de-stress? Well, for starters, if you’ve noticed a pattern of stress that’s affecting your daily life, it’s wise to speak with a professional; it may be anxiety, in which case you’ll want a doctor to recommend options. However, if it’s that run-of-the-mill stress that peaks around final exams, the kind of panicked, heart-racing feeling of impending consequences, you may just need to unwind with an activity.
Here are seven activities to help take your mind off exams and manage your stress.
Go Axe Throwing
This relatively new rec sport, which essentially revolves around (you guessed it) throwing axes at a wooden target, has all the elements of a potent stress-reliever. Firstly, it’s physical activity, and any physical activity will go a long way toward mitigating stress. Second, it’s a social activity, often played in groups of competing friends, and socialization is great for taking your mind off stressors. Finally, there’s just something satisfying and cathartic about watching that axe splinter into wood – it’s a primal, elemental form of stress relief.
If you’re look for a fun group activity in Texas to take your mind off finals, try axe throwing.
Do a Yoga Class
Yoga, like meditation, is all about focusing on your breath – that repetitious, organic and essential mechanism inside of you. Practitioners of yoga swear by this simple focus and its ability to calm your thoughts. It doesn’t hurt either that, depending on the style of yoga, it can be fantastic exercise, which, as established above, is great for stress relief. Get all that good dopamine wherever you can, right?
Cook With Friends
There’s something soul satisfying about cooking, doubly so if you do it with friends. The act of cooking is both a Zen-like series of repetitious activities and a profound act of self-nourishment. And when you cook with friends, you introduce a social aspect. It can as simple as fixing up a quick plate of pasta, or as complicated as attempting a daylong brisket.
Pick Up an Instrument
You might be wondering – is final exam season really the time to learn something new? Well, if it helps take your mind off the stress then yes. The simple act of learning an instrument can help give shape to your emotions, providing an important outlet. It’s never good to bottle up your stress, and taking it out on a drum kit or electric guitar could be just what you need.
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
No, this doesn’t mean, “go nuts”. It means, quite literally, get outside and take a walk through nature. Texas has some fantastic natural scenery, hikes and walks. The fresh air from the trees might be all your stress-addled brain needs to calm down and carry on. The physical activity you get as a by-product is just the cherry on top.
Volunteer at an Animal Shelter
It’s been scientifically proven that our four-legged friends help keep us calm, cool and collected. Just 10 minutes of interaction with a cat or dog can reduce cortisol, the primary hormone responsible for stress. And if you don’t have a dog or cat lying around (many A&M students are away from home), don’t worry; you can always volunteer to help at a local animal shelter and reap the same benefits, all while doing some good.
Go Watch Some Live Comedy
As Groucho Marx once famously said, “a clown is like aspirin, only he works twice as fast”. Indeed, there is solid scientific evidence to back up the therapeutic benefits of laughter. You can do this by simply seeking out a funny movie on Netflix, or you can take it an extra step and go see some live comedy. In the latter case, you get the communal experience of laughter, which can further help distract you from your stresses.
This final exam season, remember to take care of yourself. Try one of the above activities!