With final exams around the corner, now is the time of year that students are the most stressed. There seems to be no free time during exam season, and the little free time that you do have is spent studying in the library. There are some easy and fast ways to relax that will also destress you, which is perfect for exam season.
One easy way to relax that you can do in between studying, or even if you take a 10 minute break from studying is to create a pattern to draw all over a page. You pick one design (bubbels, diamonds, spirals, etc.) and you fill the page with it. This allows you to focus on one thing while you take a break from studying, so your brain is not swirling around thinking about everything else you have to do before the end of the year. It allows you to put all of your focus on this one task, which can be very relaxing because you are not stressing about anything else. This is also a great relaxation task because you don’t have to finish in one go. You can continue the doodle everytime you take a small study break.
Meditation is also a great way to relax and de-stress. It is a great way to clear your mind and to make your body less tense. Meditation can also be done during a study break, or it can be done in the morning when you wake up and at night right before you go to bed. This way you start and end your day relaxed and on a positive note. There are many ways to meditate and different ways work for different people. A popular tool is the mindfulness app, it is great for beginners and will walk you through many different medications. It also has meditations for different situations, like not being able to fall asleep.
We all know the phrase, “I’m stretching myself too thin.” As college students, it’s sometimes hard to comprehend all that we’re actually doing and accomplishing in a day while fully wrapped up in papers, studying, parties, clubs, interviews, applications, volunteering, office hours, and hey, um, don’t forget sleeping, eating, and breathing! Rinse. Repeat.
And I say, it’s about time that we “stretch ourselves whole” again.
So let’s chat about physical fitness for a minute. Ever since I came to college and am no longer a part of team sports like I was in high school, I’ve become very phase-y. First, there was the running phase. That wore out. Next was the strength training YouTube videos. That quickly ran its course as well. I’ll always have dancing and walking in my pocket because to me, I never feel like I consciously have to be aware that I’m “working out.” We are all different beings, though. So whatever your exercise plan is, you do you.
But one thing we should have in common is stretching. Stretching is in a category of its own. It’s like tea in physical form. It can warm your muscles and your central system, while relaxing you to a calm. The heat from the mug can sometimes be painful to touch, but the more you adapt to its fire, you find it comforting and embrace it. It’s good any time, morning, noon, night, when you’re sick, when you’re sad, when you’re cold, when you’re stressed, when you’re chill, when you’re in pain, when you’re bored, when you’re among friends.
Okay, enough of the tea metaphor, you get my point. I’m not even talking about hot vinyasa yoga, I’m talking basic gym class stretches. Taking a moment to rub out the kinks of the day, to drink in the quiet, to listen to how your body feels and connect mind to body. We force our body to work so hard through the day. Stretching is your way of giving back to it. It’s the best non-vocal way of saying, “Thanks” (which is probably better – because can the body actually hear itself talking to itself? Philosophers, physiologists? What’s your stance on this?)
Now, you’re probably thinking, “What does stretching have to do with art?” Stretching is a practice of stimulating both mind and body at the same time, just like painting, writing, acting, dance – only at a slower pace. The carpet or mat you stretch on is an open canvas where you can let your mind wander, explore your imagination and discover yourself. It’s active, just like all types of art. There’s no correct way of doing a stretch. You listen to your own limits, follow your own desires. It’s recommended to open the window, breathe in the fresh air, scratch the carpet, draw with your fingers as if you were carving imaginary loops into the ground below you, hum to yourself, transport yourself to a far-off sandy beach in your mind while traveling deep into your heart. The more senses you can engage while stretching, the better. Stretching is your time to be positive, to be graceful. Allow yourself to be surprised. In the time that you could watch a V-Sauce video, you could also generate waves of positivity and possibility within your body.
Trust me, even through this hippy-dippiness, begin and end your day with a quick stretch. You know how satisfied you feel after you sneeze or yawn? Stretching is like a slow-motion form of your body yawning. You will love how you feel and you will find that joy steeped throughout your day [okay, tea jokes are now done!]
Best wishes for this final exams week, everyone!
P.S. Here are some of my favorite stretching videos on the InterWeb (if you know any others, please share them in the Comments below!!!)
Iâ€™m at the point in my life/semester/being where Iâ€™m overwhelmed by living–itâ€™s just so damn exciting. I wake up and get to learn, get to work, get to work out, get to read, get to love, get to eat, get to dance (my knee is more or less healed), I get to be.
I get to listen to 2ne1â€™s new album and RuPaulâ€™s new album. AKA life is good.
Â Â Â Â Â Â
I find myself so excited, or so overwhelmed by emotion, or so confused, that I cannot breath. Akin to panic/anxiety attacks, this type of attack is, what Iâ€™ve learned, what it means for me (in this moment) to be alive. Itâ€™s like an eternal trill on pick-your-instrument. So exciting, so fast, so pretty, so alarming.
I finished (one of) my favorite book(s) yesterday. I got to jog two days in a row. I frolicked in the sun. I made an amazing meal. I met a friendâ€™s girlfriend. I spent much needed time with a semi-significant other. And, of course, bad things happened, but itâ€™s in this moment that I just need to celebrate the good stuff.
Tomorrow (after 4:30) marks the first inhalation of Spring Break and Iâ€™ll be holding my breath until it ends.
Itâ€™s like when you step into UMMA, wander upstairs, and see Monet *literally* just peeking at you. Itâ€™s like wandering into a club to see your friend DJ-ing. Itâ€™s like walking down the street and having someone across the intersection belting Beyonce. Itâ€™s like almost slipping on ice and then catching yourself in a bush. Pretty much the best thing ever.
So even if Iâ€™m utterly bored by still being in undergrad. Even if it surprised snowed at me after a Bio exam (#lol). Even if everyone is really a mess. Even if I will have never gone anywhere for Spring Break EVER.
I still have this one panicked breath. And that, really, is all I need.