No matter your age or what school you attend, college involves a great deal of work. Long hours, strained eyes, and struggling to understand new concepts (*cough cough* especially in math, *cough cough*) can lead to stress, exhaustion, and burn out. Even for you nerds like me who love school, there comes a point when we all just need a little break. Taking time to rest and recharge is important not only for mental sanity but physical health as well! So here are my top tips for relaxing in college (all of which involve little to no cost for you, poor college student that you are).
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  1. Take a nap. I never napped before college, but I quickly mastered the art of the power nap my freshman year (thanks in part to my roommate – shout out to JQ!). According to science, a 20 minute nap is actually the best length for a quick recharge. (Read about nap benefits and nap tips.)
  2. Read a good book. I LOVE reading, but I rarely had time in college. If you can fit it in, more power to you. I suggest picking a book that’s an easy read with a captivating plot (think Nicholas Sparks, not Tolstoy). Reading during the school year helped me feel in control of my life, instead of like a robot mindlessly reading what was assigned (I should say though that I am an advocate for doing your homework, so don’t skew my words here people).
  3. Hang out with good friends. Relationships are so important at any phase of life. Make time for them, and also make sure you are surrounding yourself with people who will encourage and recharge your energy, not drain you of it. (Read this awesome article about the effect of positive relationships; it’s about teachers but applies to anyone.)
  4. Go to a park/museum/art exhibit (etc.). Get out of your room! The great outdoors is a wonderful place to find inspiration and feel refreshed. If that’s not your scene (or you live somewhere that regularly has negative wind chills for half the year), go to a museum, art exhibit, or something else you find interesting. Just do something different every once in a while.
  5. Watch a movie. Whether you go to a movie or watch one in your room, it can be a great escape for a few hours. (Note: there is no tip recommending binge watching Netflix or playing your favorite video game all night. As fun as those are, you’ll waste WAY too much time, and that’s not relaxing in the long run. Trust me, I know…)
  6. Listen to music. I don’t know anyone who flat out doesn’t like music. Find your jam (whether it’s classical or rap) and tune the world out for a bit. Listen while doing homework, as you’re falling asleep, or just find a quiet place to chill with your headphones.
  7. Enjoy an early coffee/tea/hot chocolate while campus is still quiet. The day must start at some point, but you can be in control of how it starts. Have a cup of your favorite morning drink, and sit in silence for a bit. This can help you center yourself and focus on the upcoming day.
  8. Workout. Working out is a fantastic stress reliever (again, according to science). While I encourage everyone to find time, I will say for it to be most relaxing it shouldn’t be a chore. You will feel best about it if you truly are enjoying it and want to do it. It can be an hour at the gym, or just a walk around campus. Find what you enjoy most, and try to do it a few times per week.
  9. Keep up with your hobbies. Knitting, playing an instrument, scrapbooking, going to concerts, sky diving, ultimate Frisbee, bird watching, magic tricks – whatever your hobby, make time for it! You may not be able to do it as much as you’d like, but don’t let it go altogether. Or, pick up a new hobby. If you’re in a state with more options for activities than you’re used to, join in. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to try, go for it!
  10. Call your parents or best friend. Nothing made me feel more rejuvenated than a great conversation with my mom or one of my BFFs. When I would start to feel homesick, or the stress of school became overwhelming, and all else failed, I would call up someone I knew would make me feel better. Find your person who will always be in your corner and won’t judge you while you vent…for an hour…while maybe crying…and eating ice cream…by the carton…or whatever, you know, just an example.
  11. Laugh. Laughter truly is the best medicine. Whether it’s with friends, at a movie/show, or a comedian on campus – find something to laugh about every day. Always be able to laugh at yourself and the situation (even if it’s a few days, or weeks, okay months, later). By keeping a positive attitude, you’ll find you can handle most anything life throws at you.

College is a unique experience that hopefully leaves you with more good memories than bad. Staying focused and doing well are important, but make sure you take time for yourself, too. When you start to feel like you’re just going through the motions, break the pattern and find something to help you relax and recharge!

Other tips for relaxing in college? What do/did you find most helpful? Comment below!