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How To De-Stress Without Digital Media 

By Brianna Ruffin

It’s hard to imagine the things digital media can’t do as a tool for college students, especially when you’re looking to unwind. It’s always there in a pinch with apps, streaming websites and social networks, allowing you to connect with other people and then relax after a long day. But digital media—and all the things you feel you need to keep up with—can also leave you feeling wound up, increasing your stress levels.

You already know the drill. Maybe you’ll watch hours of Netflix or Hulu instead of doing homework because you’re too stressed or overwhelmed to do anything else—which only, ultimately, increases the stress because you’re giving yourself less time. Or perhaps something on social media makes you feel bad—Have you ever seen a friend’s status and felt worse about your own place in life, as if your success or happiness can’t ever measure up to whatever great thing they’re going through? Many students forget that they are seeing a carefully curated image of other people on digital media, which may cause them to use these sites to push themselves to work harder, and increasing stress.

Whether this has happened to you or not, the fact is the stresses of college can easily wear on you. But a few alternative coping strategies that don’t necessarily involve a lot of swiping may help you get a different kind of handle on things. Whether you’re really in need of a break—or even in the midst of a power outage!—these eight alternative stress-busters are proven to even things out, without needing to charge anything.

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What songs do you most enjoy listening to when you’re stressed? Create a favorite playlist now for just when you’re in that kind of mood, turn on autoplay and then listen to the playlist while in a comfortable position. Is that playlist not doing the trick? If so, try a different genre of music and see how that affects the way you feel.


What is your favorite form of exercise? Do you enjoy jogging, yoga or swimming? Exercise works wonders for stress relief and can also help you feel better physically. Experiment and find whatever is right for you. Make sure it’s an activity that is easy to do and, in the case of activities that require special facilities, accessible whenever you’re feeling stressed, and wherever you are. You might also find it useful to download an app for different forms of exercise.


Even if it may not always seem like it, your classmates struggle with stress as well. Talking about these feelings helps you contribute to the kind of campus culture that encourages everyone to be open to any number of issues, whether academic or emotional. In addition, you may learn new coping strategies to practice. Talking to other people about common struggles can make you feel less alone—and less ashamed about feeling alone. Everyone goes through this, and you will get through it as well. 


Given how sleep-deprived you can get in college, making up for lost time in the middle of the day is a real boon. You can take one or two short naps, for about twenty minutes to an hour at a time, and really benefit; according to both the Mayo Clinic and the National Sleep Foundation, it helps improve mood, alertness and performance. After a little power nap, you should wake up feeling more refreshed and ready to tackle the day’s work from a new perspective.

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Writing in a journal—whether with pen and paper or on your laptop—is a surefire way to better understand your feelings, and even let lots of negativity go. Why exactly are you feeling stressed? Are you feeling overwhelmed with your workload or extracurricular activities? How long have you been feeling this way? Take a complete break from stress by either writing about your day or your feelings, or a completely different topic. You could even write a short story! This journal belongs to you and you alone, and odd as it may sometimes seem, it can be a great confidant.


We know…you have plenty of reading to do for class, but even if you’re reading for pleasure a bit at a time, it’s fun to get lost in something that takes you away from your workload. So go to the college library or download an e-book to read when you feel stressed. Choose your favorite book genre. Don’t feel pressured to choose books that you think you should be reading. Read any book you like—or reread a book you loved as a child. If you feel there’s no time, a favorite magazine will do the trick as well.


“Don’t judge me,” says Justin Bieber about one of his favorite stress-busting hobbies. Adult coloring books are taking the world by storm, and for good reason. Even as an adult, coloring can be relaxing. Go to a nearby store to find one with drawings that interest you, and pick up the colored pencils or crayon colors you wish. Take care to choose colors that you find especially pleasing to the eye. You can even hang your finished coloring pages on the wall of your dorm room as a decoration.


Do you constantly feel stressed? Are you depressed or unhappy most or all of the time? If so, it might be useful to consult a counselor. Contact your school’s counseling center for free or reduced services. If none are available, a school administrator may be able to direct you to counseling services nearby. You don’t have to suffer through college in order to do well academically. Your mental health is always more important than your grades.

It’s normal to feel stressed in college. Utilizing any or all of these eight strategies for dealing with stress without digital media should help you begin to cultivate healthy coping mechanisms, and better enjoy these exciting and inspiring years.


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