19 Ways to De-stress as a College Student

1. Don't overwhelm yourself with your to-do list.
You may have heard from a variety of sources that to-do lists are excellent destressing mechanisms. Checking tasks off your list is definitely a relaxant--plus a motivator--but making one too full of arduous tasks is counterproductive. Let's face it: there are, and always will be, some jobs you just have to do--like homework. Try to minimize other tasks that are optional--maybe add just one a day on top of things like homework, your job, et cetera.

2. Make a hot meal.
The other night I cooked spaghetti carbonara for dinner, and it surprised me at how much pushing onions and bacon around in a skillet relaxed me. Ideally, create one that's actual “comfort food,” like macaroni and cheese, a hot soup (I just got one off Pinterest that I made for dinner on Friday night--scrumptious), or spaghetti carbonara. It's not like there aren't ways to make these recipes healthier, either--just do some research and buy some better ingredients :)

3. Sew buttons back onto your blazers.
Unless you're one of those highly talented individuals (both in patience and in sewing), you're likely to get overly stressed even thinking about creating a whole new garment on top of all the other things you have to do in a day. But sometimes sitting in a rocking chair and sewing buttons onto your clothes, or mending rips in them, is an excellent way to de-stress.

4. Iron your clothes.
Like sewing, this is another occupation that moves in a slow, relaxing manner. Also, heat just relaxes the muscles in general. So grab a wrinkled shirt you're planning to wear tomorrow and make it look that much nicer!

5. Clean the house.
While this might be a stressful task to cross off on your to-do list, having cleaner surroundings definitely makes your brain more peaceful. Particularly if you're an organized person. In my opinion, you also sleep better if you have a clean bedroom. So if you're planning on having a very relaxing evening, you might want to make sure the house is clean first.

6. Read a chapter of a novel.
Ideally not a classic--they force you to think too much. Obviously I am not discouraging you from challenging your brain, but when you need a quick way to unwind, an easy contemporary novel without too much action--like Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson--is perfect. Although you can get lured into reading more than just one chapter if you're not careful. . . .

7. Write.
This is mainly for actual writers--if writing isn't an interest of yours, you can forgo this tip. But writing a scene of a story that's been in your head for a few days is a good brain relaxant.

8. Exercise.
This is the one we've all heard multiple times. Still, exercise not only relieves the flight-or-fight hormones, epinephrine and norepinephrine, but it also releases endorphins to make you happier. I believe that's what's called a win-win.

9. Go for a stroll and pray, think, or talk to yourself.
The prospect of exercising can be daunting at times, and if you're not in the mood, an amble through the streets or fields can be an excellent replacement, particularly if you want to spend time in prayer, if you want to act out a scene in your latest book idea, or if you plan to randomly think through all the things in the world. It relieves the pressure of having to focus on schoolwork constantly.

10. Read a Psalm.
The Book of Psalms is my favorite book in the Bible, maybe partially because you can make them into your own prayers. I love Psalm 94:17-18.

11. Journal.
If you're uncomfortable sharing with someone else how you're feeling, you can always use a journal. Prayer journals are wonderful inventions, and so are daily journals. Don't pressure yourself into writing daily if that makes you more stressed out.

12. Drink a cup of hot tea.
As my grandma says, “There's nothing like a good hot cup of tea.” In my perfect world I could say that I drink a cup of green tea every morning and a cup of chamomile tea every night, but that's not as true as I'd like it to be. If you're aiming to relax, I recommend a cup of chamomile because it is naturally a relaxant. You can sweeten it with honey if you like, which is supposed to aid with insomnia as well.

13. Take a hot bath or shower.
This is another one you've probably heard multiple times: Being clean is an excellent motivator. Well, feeling grungy is also a perfect stressor. If you prefer baths on a night when you've finished all your responsibilities, you can add lavender essential oil to your bubble bath. Epsom salts are also supposed to be good at detoxing.

14. Sleep in.
Maybe I should have retitled this “Turn off the alarm.” If you don't have any morning classes, or if you have all online classes, there's probably no need to get up at six o' clock in the morning unless you like to do that. The best aspect about not setting an alarm is that your body can wake up naturally and, if you practice this for a while, you may find yourself waking up well-rested at 6:30 a.m.

15. Massage your temples with diluted essential oils.
Haha, please do not use undiluted lavender or peppermint oil. I've done it before, and while it won't kill you, it does produce a temporary burning sensation. Use a little water to dilute a drop or two, dip your fingers in it, and massage it over your face. Massaging one's scalp and temples is very relaxing.

16. Watch an episode of your favorite TV show.
My favorites are Once Upon A Time, Gotham, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Forever.

17. Light a candle.
Oooh, I love lighting candles! Particularly when the house is clean. They smell beautiful, are relaxing, and, especially on a rainy autumn night, make the house feel sooo cozy.

18. Listen to a playlist of classical or classical-feel music while doing any of the above.
I like Yiruma's piano music--it's sweet, soft, and not distracting. Many classical playlists, while incredible, are very stressful, so make sure you choose the right composer. Claude Debussy created some very beautiful and relaxing pieces. Also, you can study to this music and it won't distract you--it might even help you focus :)

19. Do some homework!
The other night I was cranky and knew I had a ton of homework left to do. Surprisingly, once I sat down and focused and forced myself to work through a couple hours, I calmed down a lot. Procrastination is not just a stressor because at the last minute you have a ton of assignments. It's a stressor because you have that prospect nagging at you constantly.

What helps you relax?

See also How to Have a Healthy and Relaxing Evening.


  1. wonderful tips- and not just for college students. You know that I tend to stress over little things, and some of these are PERFECT! :) My favorites are 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 18, an 18. :)

    1. Thank you :) Yes, they can be applied to anyone, but I figured college students want to know how to de-stress more than a lot of us do. . . . Ha. I'm glad you liked it :)


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