Heading back to school is exciting, but also undeniably stressful. One day you’re lying on the beach worrying if you applied enough SPF, and the next you’re waking up at 8 a.m., worrying about getting to class on time, unpacking your suitcases, and buying new textbooks. It’s hard. Luckily, there are easy ways to make the transition a little less stressful. Here are a few of my favorite, scientifically-backed tips to help!
PHOTO: Kelly Rogowski
1—Add houseplants to your dorm
PHOTO: Anna Coke
Although most schools don’t allow pets, pet houseplants are fair game. They may not be as fun to cuddle with, but they will purify the air and induce your relaxation response. In one study, researchers found that stressed-out subjects who entered a room full of plants had a greater drop in blood pressure than those who entered a room without them. If houseplants don’t match your decor this year, simply taking a walk in a park can have a similar effect.
2—Create a positivity playlist
PHOTO: Kenia Viezcas
Studies have found that listening to classical music slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and even decreases levels of stress hormones; so if you’re a fan of classical music, you’re all set! Honestly though, listening to any genre of music you love will boost endorphins and help calm you down. I keep headphones on me and have a specific playlist of songs that make me smile (Adele’s heartbreakingly beautiful breakup songs get their own playlist) that I put on whenever I need a pick me up during the day.
3—Download a meditation app
PHOTO: Kelly Rowgowski
Everybody knows that meditating calms you down, yet many skip it when looking to de-stress since, well, how exactly do you do it? That’s where apps come in. Two great ones for beginners are Insight Timer and Aura, both of which are free to download. Insight Timer features over 4,000 guided meditations as well as a selection of calming, background sounds. Aura offers a daily, unique three-minute meditation, perfect for a short break between classes.
4— Eat a banana (or anything with potassium)
PHOTO: Lex Kelly
Don’t worry, if you hate bananas, any potassium-rich snack will work (avocado toast included). Potassium is a known regulator of blood pressure and low potassium levels have been associated with a greater risk for depression. One delicious way to get your potassium is to chop a peeled banana in half, spread almond butter on it, roll it in cacao nibs, stick a skewer in the bottom and freeze it overnight. Voilà: the perfect mood-boosting breakfast!
What tricks do you use to de-stress? Let me know in the comments below!