Lectures. Essays. Lab reports. Group projects. Exams. Your social life is a distant memory. Clean clothes? Overrated. Juggling everything thrown at you whilst remaining calm and dealing with life in general can make it hard to relax and find balance.

Everything becomes frantic and time spent away from textbooks or your laptop seems impossible to justify. This is when relaxation is the key to sanity. When it seems like you don’t have time to take a day off, you actually have not time to not take time out.

Things can spiral out of control without you even noticing because there has been no time for reflection. To prevent this, take some time to let go of all the things that are stressing you out. Let’s take immediate action – take 3 breaths (or more if you like) with this rhythmic GIF. You’ll feel a difference immediately.

Cooking

Cooking or baking something with friends is a great way to occupy your mind. You don’t need to be a star chef to create something delicious – just find a recipe you’ve always wanted to try out, invite some friends and have fun. Follow the recipe (or Youtube video) step by step and you will certainly end up with something palatable. Alternatively, improvise freestyle and get all the neglected things out of your pantry! Either way, you’ll have a great day with friends. Bonus: no added stress from eating out and paying £4 for a tiny slice of cake.

Eating is a necessity. Cooking is an art.

Eating is a necessity. Cooking is an art.

Go explore

Scotland is blessed with beautiful landscapes – our campus is already pretty impressive. If you need a break from the Uni, go explore somewhere else – the trail around the Gowan Hill is a nice escape from everything and the red sandstone and plant life are proof that Scotland used to be in the tropics! If you want to get out of Stirling, spend a day exploring St. Andrews and have a look around the gorgeous coastal town. For a rainy day, visit a museum in Edinburgh or Glasgow and delve into another world or check out some of the amazing cosy coffee shops.

Watch a movie

Give yourself the permission to watch the movie that you have been wanting to watch for AGES or browse YouTube for interesting stuff (just don’t spend too long doing that), or a nature documentary exploring this beautiful planet. The storylines will guide your mind through another world were you just have to sit back and observe. If you need to get out of the house, come down to the Macrobert Arts Centre. The cinema in small and cosy and it offers fair student prices.

 

Arnie says 'chill'.

Arnie says ‘chill’.

Talk to someone

Being heard and understood by someone can be very soothing. Grab a coffee with a friend or call home – even if it’s just to get something off your chest. Alternatively, the professional UofS staff in our Counselling and Wellbeing team are a great contact point when things go over your head and you need someone to help you to get a fresh, clam outlook on everything that needs to be done.

Get plenty of sleep

Getting enough quality sleep is crucial to keeping a clear head. It can be difficult to say no to one more episode of your latest favourite series at 1:00 am or say goodnight to your flatmates when you are having a laughing marathon – but it’ll be worth it when you wake up rested and refreshed the next morning.

A good night’s sleep will help you stay focused through the day. Try not to look at bright screens just before you go to sleep and install apps like Flux on your device which will take out the blue light that’s keeping you awake. Lavender oil also has soothing properties and can help you fall asleep.

Naps are most acceptable – just don't overdo it.

Naps are acceptable – just don’t overdo it.

Do some exercise

Exercise. A scary word, I know.

The evidence supporting the stress-relieving properties of exercise cannot be ignored, though. The gym on campus is great for taking a study break and getting your mind off things. You can go along to any of the classes the gym offers or go for a relaxing swim.

If you don’t have a gym membership there are still plenty of options – take a walk around the loch or wander through the woods. On cold and grey days, you can once again turn to the internet. Your neighbours might not agree with you doing jumping jacks and burpees but there are many routines that you can do in the house that are quiet and don’t require a lot of space.

The power of getting your body moving should not be underestimated – it works wonders for a cluttered mind. If you’re scared of being too tired after exercise, make sure you refuel your body with something hearty that will give you lots of energy to continue your day.

 

Even a short burst of exercise can do you wonders.

Even a short burst of exercise can do you wonders.

Use specialist apps

There are loads of great free relaxation and meditation apps available. One such app we suggest is Stop Breathe Think, which can help you with mindfulness in a fun way and totally tailored to how your emotions are at that moment.

– Lefora Williams, Student Assistant