Three Low-Cost Ways for College Students to Relieve Stress

College is a stressful place. Students are under a constant stream of academic, financial, and personal pressures that can cause them to feel overwhelmed and tense.

For some, the reality that comes along with being away from home for the first time can leave them feeling homesick and anxious as they learn how to fend for themselves. For many, the struggle to find enough time for a part time job needed to cover expenses causes them to feel stretched thin. And all college students are familiar with the stress and pressure that comes along during exam weeks.

Regardless of the source of stress, many students aren’t aware of how to manage it. And while there are endless suggestions for ways to relieve stress, many are either expensive or simply out of reach for college students.

So, instead of stressing out about finding ways to get rid of stress, here are three easy (and inexpensive!) ideas on how to relax when it feels like you’re carrying the weight of the world.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

1. Get your heart rate going

Exercise may sound like a generic answer to help relieve stress, but it truly is one of the most effective methods. Exercise raises your endorphins (a.k.a. the happiness hormone), which in turn will help minimize your stress levels.

However, getting a gym membership or paying for fitness classes can be a pain in the wallet (not to mention other places!). But luckily many colleges have amazing gym facilities that offer tons of state of the art equipment and different types of group workout classes available throughout the entire day.

The best part about these on-campus gyms is that membership is almost always included with tuition payments at the beginning of the semester, leaving students free to use the space without having to worry about extra monthly payments.

At Chico State, the Wildcat Recreation Center (or WREC) is frequented by thousands of students looking to relieve stress and squeeze in a quick workout in between classes.

Talena Keltner, a junior at Chico State and frequent WREC-er, says the punching bags located upstairs in the gym are the best part.

“I typically will rent a pair of gloves from the front desk, go up to the bags and punch for about ten to fifteen minutes. It instantly makes me feel less overworked”, said Talena.

If punching isn’t your style, consider trying out the yoga or meditation classes as a way to relax. These are especially good options if you’re looking for something in between classes and don’t necessarily want to work up a sweat.

Whether you want to punch something (or someone), breathe your way to serenity, or anything in between, be sure to check out your campus gym and all it has to offer.

2. Two words: treat yourself

This idea may sound contradictory to the whole “cheap” theme we’ve got going here, but you don’t have to spend big to get the benefits of a little pick-me-up.

The best part about treating yourself is it can be anything that you enjoy, no matter how small. One easy and inexpensive way that I love to treat myself is with a facemask. I’ll usually buy one at the store for a few bucks; sometimes, I’ll even make them at home using a few items I already have in the kitchen (quick tip: some of them even double as a dip). Then I just slap it on and go about my business until it’s time to wash it off. Instant relaxation!

If quick at-home beauty tricks aren’t really your speed, try checking out some of the local events around your city. For instance, in Chico, there are Thursday and Saturday farmer’s markets that offer music, free offerings from tons of local businesses, and the simple ability to just walk around and unwind. The farmer’s markets are also completely free to attend!

3. Play with (all the) puppies

Dogs, more importantly puppies, are happy love bugs that are more than happy to cuddle and play with you when you need to take your mind off of things. So what better way to relieve stress than to curl up with one or go to a park and play fetch?

All it takes is just one hour of free time and it’s a completely free (and snuggly) stress reliever. In fact, studies have actually shown that taking some time to run around with and snuggle up to man’s best friend decreases stress levels.

However, if you’re like me and aren’t lucky enough to have your own four-legged best friend, or if your friends live too far away for you to borrow their pooch for the day, check out a local animal shelter and sign up to volunteer.

When I have some free time on the weekends, I like to go to the Butte Humane Society and hang out with all the dogs that are there. Once again, it’s totally free, a great way to kill some time or to take a break from studying. And, as an added plus, it gives me a little something extra to throw on my resume!

College can be a lot to take in. And when midterms and finals start to roll around, all of that work can make you ready to pull your hair out. Take some time to try out some of these stress relievers and see what works for you. That way you can take some weight off of your wallet, and more importantly off of yourself.


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