Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Five stress-relieving activities you can do today

Back-to-school stress-relieving activities
(Collegian File Photo)
(Collegian File Photo)

Stress is a very common and normal response to the start of the school year, but sometimes it can become overwhelming. An intelligent counter would then be to find stress-relieving activities, but even searching for them can induce the emotion. Often, suggestions can be too difficult, time consuming, unclear or just unhelpful. Yoga is not appealing to everyone, meditation can be too intense and sex is not a readily available stress reduction technique for most. To avoid your opportunities becoming ordeals, here are five stress-relieving activities you can do today.


Eat regular, balanced meals

Although it may seem enticing to cut out your morning meal for some extra time in bed, this will only increase your morning anxiety. Eating well-rounded meals can help regulate your blood pressure, giving you a better mindset to start the day. The guidelines include a diet low in sodium, saturated fats, consuming low-fat dairy products, lots of fruit and vegetables and eating healthy unsaturated fats. Increases in blood pressure can cause a stress response by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. Preventing stress from snowballing immediately will allow you to plan and act more efficiently. You’re not you when you’re hungry.



One of the most irrational habits of our generation is staying up late glossing over our phones at the expense of the sleep we craved all day. The perpetuation of this behavior is baffling. Sleep is tied to so many benefits, not the least of which is feeling great. Others include reduced stress, more energy and less negative moods. Designing your schedule with sleep as the place to make cuts leads to an all-too-familiar misery. Lacking sleep will only facilitate poor cognitive performance. Go to bed earlier, sleep for longer and just try to get in the sleep you need (about eight hours is the most common number).


Fix your posture

“Stand up straight with your shoulders back.” Advice given by psychologist Jordan Peterson, as your posture is not just an aesthetic function. According to his book “12 Rules for Life,” posture and the neurotransmitter serotonin are related: open body language can lead to increased serotonin levels. Proper postures has been shown to increase positive emotions and give a more authoritative presence. Poor posture can show signs of weakness and encourage negative emotions. Keeping your posture in mind and correcting as needed can lead to self-fulfilling mood elevation.


Get sunlight

Perhaps in an almost plant-like requirement, humans need sunlight. The impact of sunlight can make you feel happier. Specifically, the brain produces more serotonin and vitamin D when you are exposed to sunlight. Deficiencies can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a feeling similar to depression commonly experienced in the winter months which is, at least partially, caused by lack of sunlight. One of its treatments is exposure to light. So open the blinds and let the sun in or make sure you fit an outdoor walk into your routine. You are almost guaranteed to feel better.



Yes, going to the gym can be an anxious experience. And yes, exercise can take a lot of time. But there are many ways to avoid the noisy, intimidating parts of the gym. After a little internet searching, you can find many quick workouts that will provide you with energy and a mood boost. In addition to that, you’ll probably feel better about yourself for exercising because of the physiological benefits such as reduced risk for several diseases like heart disease, hypertension and depression. A 20 to 30-minute routine can be fit into many schedules or be done spontaneously when negative emotions become too prevalent. Taking personal fitness seriously is one of the best health choices you can make.

Don’t let stress hamper your day any longer and start combatting it now. Following these recommendations can help, but progress can be slow and scheduling can be difficult to stick with. Don’t beat yourself up over a missed day at the gym; self-loathing doesn’t help. Perhaps start with minor inclusions into your schedule and gradually include more every week or two. Keep in mind that stress is manageable, but also inevitable. Events will happen throughout this year that will induce anxiety, regardless of how long you’ve stared at the sun. The right mindset is always the most essential part of anything you do, including stress management. You should get some more sleep though. Seriously, just sleep.

Ben Connolly can be reached at [email protected].

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