August is National Relaxation Month, but the busy start of a new academic year can sometimes feel anything but relaxing. With new courses and responsibilities to navigate, managing your stress and carving out time to unwind are challenging.
But we’re here to tell you that taking a moment to relax can benefit your mental and physical health, as well as help you succeed in your courses this semester. Here are five simple ways you can limit your stress:
Exercise is a critical component of physical health, but it can also act as a major mood-booster. When you add movement to your day, your body releases endorphins that help you feel happier and less stressed. And it’s not necessary to travel to the gym or own fitness equipment to reap the rewards of exercising. Adding just thirty minutes of walking to your day or a 10-minute yoga routine when you wake up in the morning can make a difference in your mood.
Meditation might seem overwhelming for a beginner, but there are numerous techniques to get you started. The premise of meditation is simple: you focus on the present moment and let your worries about the future fade away by anchoring your thoughts to your breath. It’s a perfect way to relax in the midst of a busy day, no matter where you are.
If you’re interested in using meditation as a tool for relaxation and stress relief, BeWell Panthers has helpful guides for different meditation practices, including nurturing meditation and floating noting meditation. They also offer tips for creating the right space for meditation.
- Explore the outdoors.
Spending time in nature can have some serious benefits for your mental health. Studies show that individuals who get outside enjoy reduced heart rate, decreased depression and lowered tension and anxiety, to name just a few of the perks. You don’t have to travel far to enjoy the natural world – walking in a nearby park or spending time in a garden can work wonders for your stress level and help you unwind.
- Create something.
Art allows us to express emotions we can’t put into words, and the process of creating art can improve your mood and decrease your stress. There are many ways to get your creative juices flowing for a little relaxation. Try drawing, painting, knitting, spinning clay, dancing or making music. If you’re not feeling particularly creative, visit a local museum or theater for a little inspiration (appreciating art still counts).
- Get some sleep.
With a busy semester and a heavy workload, it can be tempting to skip out on sleep to stay on top of your assignments. But research demonstrates that deep, restful sleep is critical for learning and retaining information, meaning that staying up all night to study for an exam might actually inhibit your ability to recall what you’ve learned.
Additionally, sleep deprivation is linked to the body’s increased production of the stress hormone cortisol. Missing out on restful sleep not only creates more stress, but the heightened cortisol level can also make it harder for you to fall asleep.
The moral of the story? Getting a solid night’s sleep is critical for both your mental health and academic success.
For resources covering everything from stress management to nutrition to relationships, visit BeWellPanthers. And if you’re struggling with mental health this semester, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Counseling Center for help. Students can call 404-413-1640 to request assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and both on-campus and virtual appointments are available.